Freescale Semiconductor

Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. was an American multinational corporation headquartered in Austin, Texas, with design, research and development, manufacturing and sales operations in more than 75 locations in 19 countries. The company employed 17,000 people worldwide.

Freescale Semiconductor Inc.
FateAcquired by NXP Semiconductors
Founded1948 (1948) as Motorola subsidiary
Spun-off in 2004
DefunctDecember 7, 2015 (December 7, 2015)
Key people
Gregg Lowe (CEO)
Geoff Lees (Microcontrollers)
RevenueUS$4.634 billion (2014)
US$765 million (2014)
US$251 million (2014)
Number of employees
17,300 (2013)[1]
ParentNXP Semiconductors
(Redirects to

The company formed in 2004 as a spin-off from Motorola's semiconductor division. On December 7, 2015, NXP Semiconductors completed its merger with Freescale[2] for about $11.8 billion in cash and stock. Freescale shareholders received $6.25 billion in cash and 0.3521 of an NXP share for each Freescale common share. Including the assumption of Freescale's debt, the purchase price is about $16.7 billion.


Freescale was one of the first semiconductor companies in the world, having started as a division of Motorola in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1948[3] and then becoming autonomous by the divestiture of the Semiconductor Products Sector of Motorola in 2004. In 1955, a Motorola transistor for car radios was the world's first commercial high-power transistor. It was also Motorola's first mass-produced semiconductor device.

In the 1960s, one of the U.S. space program's goals was to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. In 1968, NASA began manned Apollo flights that led to the first lunar landing in July 1969. The Apollo program was particularly significant for hundreds of employees involved in designing, testing and producing its electronics. The division of Motorola which would eventually become Freescale Semiconductor, supplied thousands of semiconductor devices, ground-based tracking and checkout equipment, and 12 on-board tracking and communications units. An "up-data link" in the Apollo's command module received signals from Earth to relay to other on-board systems. A transponder received and transmitted voice and television signals and scientific data.[4]

In 1962, Motorola's technologies were used to introduce the first two-way mobile radio with a fully transistorized power supply and receiver for cars.[5][6]

Motorola has continued its growth in the networking and communications sector in later years, providing the tools behind the radio transponder, and going on to develop the first prototype of the first analog mobile phone in 1973.[7]

The company's first microprocessor (MC6800 8-bit) was introduced in 1974, and was used in automotive, computing and video game applications.[8]

Motorola's next generation 32-bit microprocessor, the MC68000, led the wave of technologies that spurred the computing revolution in 1984, powering devices from companies such as Apple, Commodore, Atari, Sega, Sun, and Hewlett-Packard.[9]

In the 1990s, Motorola's technology was the driving force behind intelligent power switches for anti-lock brake systems, one of the first microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) inertial sensor for automotive airbags, and Motorola's MPC5200 microprocessor deployed telematic systems for General Motors' OnStar systems.[10]

Since then, Freescale continued to provide the technology behind consumer, medical, networking and automotive products from microprocessors for the world's first tubing-free wireless insulin pump,[11] to and automotive microcontrollers for efficient engine design. Freescale's motion-sensing accelerometer powers the interactivity of the Guitar Hero video games.[12] The number one provider of eReader processors worldwide was Freescale.[13] In 2009, Freescale demonstrated the world's lowest startup voltage single inductor DC/DC converter for use in solar and thermoelectric energy harvesting applications.[14]

In 2011, the company launched the industry's first multimode wireless base station processor family that scales from small to large cells – integrating DSP and communications processor technologies to realize a true "base station-on-chip".[15] In addition, a recent ABI Research market study report states that Freescale owns 60% share of the radio frequency (RF) semiconductor device market.

Also in 2011, Freescale announced the company's first magnetometer for location tracking in smart mobile devices.[16] With the partnership of McLaren Electronic Systems, they helped the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series vehicles convert from carburetors to fuel injection starting in 2012.[17][18][19]

On March 8, 2014, Freescale announced that 20 of its employees were passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. That plane, carrying the Freescale employees, was lost,[20] with only small parts of it found over a year later.

In March 2015, a merger agreement was announced through which Freescale Semiconductor would be acquired by NXP Semiconductors and that the companies would be merged to form a US$40 (equivalent to $42.28 in 2018) billion company.[21][22] The acquisition closed on December 7, 2015.


On February 26, 2013, Freescale Semiconductor announced the creation of the world's physically smallest ARM-powered chip. The Kinetis KL02 measures 1.9 by 2 millimeters and is a full microcontroller unit (MCU), means that the chip supports a processor, RAM, ROM, clock and I/O control unit. The chip competes with the Atmel M0+ offerings, which are the low-power leaders in the industry.[23] One application that Freescale says the chips could be used for is swallowable computers. Freescale already works with a variety of health and wellness customers. Both the Fitbit and OmniPod insulin pump use Freescale chips. The new chip was on display at 'Embedded World' in Nuremberg, Germany, from February 26–28, 2013.[24]

Up to now devices with leading letter codes L, E, M, W containing ARM Cortex-M0+ cores and letter code K or KW containing ARM Cortex-M4 cores are known (see also the related section in the List of Freescale products).


QorIQ is a brand of ARM-, PowerPC-, and Power ISA-based communications microprocessors from NXP Semiconductors (formerly Freescale). The QorIQ brand and the P1, P2 and P4 product families were announced in June 2008. Details of P3 and P5 products were announced in 2010. QorIQ Layerscape product families were announced in 2013, based on Cortex A7, Cortex A9, A15, A53 and A72 cores upon the ISA agnostic Layerscape architecture.


In August 2014, Freescale Semiconductor introduced a range of fully programmable wireless charging chip and reference designs for consumer and automotive applications. The new chipset is certified to work with both the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi wireless standard and the Power Matters Alliances charging specifications.[25]

Freescale focused primarily on automotive applications and is second in market share in automotive applications to Renesas Electronics. Due to this focus and exposure it is expected that car-sharing applications like Zipcar will have a significant negative impact on future Freescale revenues.[26]


Motorola announced that their semiconductor division would be divested on October 6, 2003, to create Freescale. Freescale completed its IPO on July 16, 2004.

On September 15, 2006, Freescale agreed to a $17.6 billion buyout by a consortium led by Blackstone Group and its co-investors, Carlyle Group, TPG Capital, and Permira.[27] The buyout offer was accepted on November 13, 2006, following a vote by company shareholders. The purchase, which closed on December 1, 2006, was the largest private buyout of a technology company until the Dell buyout of 2013 and is one of the ten largest buyouts of all time.[28]

Freescale filed to go public on February 11, 2011, and completed its IPO on May 26, 2011. Freescale is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol FSL. At the time of the IPO, the company had $7.6 billion in outstanding debt on its books,[29] and the company is being investigated for misconduct related to this IPO.[30]


Freescale was sued by Marvell Semiconductor for infringing seven patents. The case was settled in 2015.[31]

Freescale lost a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Tessera Corporation and was forced to pay an undisclosed amount as part of the settlement.[32]


Freescale competed with a host of other silicon vendors, including Marvell Semiconductor, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Intel, AMD, Toshiba, STMicroelectronics, Infineon, NEC Corporation, Nvidia, Microchip Technology, Renesas, VIA Technologies, and Samsung Electronics.[33]

Zune bug

Clock driver software written by Freescale was responsible for the 2008 Zune leap year bug.[34][35]

See also


  1. "2013 Form 10-K, Freescale Semiconductor". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  2. NXP Semiconductors And Freescale Semiconductor Close Merger RTTNews. Retrieved on December 13, 2015.
  3. Freescale Connected Intelligence. Retrieved on December 8, 2013.
  4. 1969: First Words from the Moon
  5. "Motorola: 75 Years of Intelligent Thinking", 2003, page 31
  6. 1962: Motorola HT200 Portable Two-Way Radio
  7. 1973: World's First Portable Cellular Demonstration
  8. "Motorola: 75 Years of Intelligent Thinking", 2003, page 42
  9. "Motorola - A Journey Through Time & Technology" pages 75–79
  10. Press Release: Freescale Named a General Motors Supplier of the Year, 2006
  11. "Insulin Pumps - Insulin Pump Therapy - OmniPod Insulin Management System". Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  12. Video: Freescale FTF 08 Guitar Hero Facebook on YouTube
  13. Press Release: Freescale Powers Into 2011 as the Market Share Leader in eReaders, 2010
  14. "Freescale Semiconductor harvests energy from each solar cell".
  15. "Press Release: Freescale Introduces Industry's First Multimode Wireless Base Station Processor Family That Scales From Small to Large Cells". Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  16. Press Release: Freescale Introduces the First Magnetometer in its Xtrinsic Sensor Portfolio, 2011
  17. NASCAR sets fuel injection for '12 but keeping restrictor plates at USA Today
  18. "NASCAR Moves to Fuel Injection, Bosch First Approved Supplier" at Auto Service World
  19. "Bosch Named Exclusive NASCAR Performance Partner, Oxygen Sensor Supplier For NASCAR Fuel Injected Engines"
  20. Team Register (March 9, 2014). "20 Freescale staff on vanished Malaysia Airlines flight MH370". The Register. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  21. "Media Center-NXP". Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  22. "NXP and Freescale Announce $40 Billion Merger". Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  24. Maly, Tim (February 26, 2013). "Freescale's Insanely Tiny ARM Chip Will Put the Internet of Things Inside Your Body". Retrieved December 8, 2013.
  25. By Lucas Mearian, ComputerWorld. "Freescale introduces multi-standard, programmable wireless charging chips." August 27, 2014. September 18, 2014.
  26. Ackerman, Elise (December 11, 2014). "Freescale Talks About Its Sweet Spot: The Growing Market For Connected Cars". Forbes. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  27. SORKIN, ANDREW ROSS and FLYNN, LAURIE J. "Blackstone Alliance to Buy Chip Maker for $17.6 Billion". New York Times, September 16, 2006
  28. Matt Andrejczak (September 15, 2006). "Freescale Talks About Its Sweet Spot: The Growing Market For Connected Cars". MarketWatch. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  29. "Freescale Debt".
  30. Freescale Investigation"Holzer Holzer & Fistel, LLC Announces Investigation into Freescale Semiconductor Holdings I, LTD" (Press release). Reuters. October 5, 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  31. "Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. et. al. v. Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. patent lawsuit". Unified Patents portal. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  32. Tessera and Freescale Settle Litigation. Business Wire (August 27, 2013). Retrieved on 2019-04-26.
  33. "Yahoo Finance - competitors of FSL".
  34. Why The Zune Croaked, Exactly (MSFT) - Business Insider. Business Insider (January 2, 2009). Retrieved on 2013-12-08.
  35. Cause of ZUNE leapyear problem – Freescale date routine | MAKE. Retrieved on December 8, 2013.
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