The time is almost upon again for another amazing show of wonderful (and some wacky) devices powered by our favourite processor architecture ARM, as well as our MIPS and x86 based competitors. This show promises to be one of the most amazing yet. Last year, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that its next generation desktop Operating System would run natively on ARM. So what could possibly match that?
Below is a quick summary of what you can all expect:
1) we have GoogleTV2 being announced on ARM
2) we have the latest OLPC XO-3 (one laptop per child) being announced on ARM
3) we have Qualcomm showcasing their Krait processors using Windows 8
4) we have NVIDIA showing the power of their Tegra3 processors
5) Texas Instruments will be showing what their OMAP 4 processors can make of Google’s latest Android OS (Ice Cream Sandwich)
6) Marvell will be showing off their upcoming quad core processor architecture (so we’ve been told)
7) And of course Intel will be pushing Ultrabooks to the masses as the next best thing – assuming you have plenty of cash and don’t want all day computing
We also hope to hear something from Microsoft about Window 8 and their plans for the ARM architecture. There has been plenty spoken about this on the media, and we don’t agree with most of it. Microsoft will release the full version of Windows 8 including the desktop for ARM and x86. We hope that we will be proved right on this one!
We won’t be in attendance, but we’ll keep you posted with some of the big stories that are bound to come out of CES.
The moment that many of us have been waiting for has finally happened. ARM Holdings has officially announced their move to a 64-bit instruction set. Ever since the arrival of the ARM10, ARM has made noises about moving to 64-bit, but nothing concrete was ever disclosed. But today, the ARMv8 architecture has officially been announced.
ARM’s official press release does not go into key performance indicators that may give us a clue to the increase to performance and power consumption that is required by moving to 64-bit processing. It does however, state that the all technical details are available to partners under license.
The ARMv8 architecture will include the current 32-bit architecture as well as the newly introduced 64-bit architecture. They are named as AArch32 and AArch64 respectively. The current key features of the current ARMv7 architecture, including TrustZone, virtualization and NEON™ advanced SIMD, are maintained or extended in the ARMv8 architecture which finally see it move into enterprise market where larger access to data is required.
Unfortunately, no new processors based on the ARMv8 architecture were announced, but it is certain that a new high-end Cortex-A series processor will be announced during 2012. ARM also state that consumer and enterprise prototype systems are expected in 2014 which means that end-products or systems based on the ARMv8 architecture will be available until 2016 at the very earliest.
Major partners in the ARM ecosystem such as Microsoft and Nvidia congratulated the move to 64-bit and recognised the magnitude of the transition of bringing the energy-efficient ARM to new high-end servers and computing as well as offering backwards compatibility.
We believe this could be the most significant announcement ARM has ever made. The move to 64-bit finally allows ARM and their partners to move into new territories that were closed to them. We are incredibly excited at the prospect of ARM continuing to move up the value chain into high-end servers and super-computers.
ARM’s share price on NASDAQ is currently up 9.13% to $30.25 after this announcement.
ARM Holdings announced an impressive set of Q2 results yesterday morning easily surpassing the markets expectations.
Pre-tax profits for the quarter was £54.2M, up from £43.5M (25% increase) in the same quarter in 2010. Revenue was $190.2M, up from $150.3M (27% increase). Pre-tax profits for the half year was £104.9M, up from £81.1M (29% increase) in the same half in 2010. Revenue was $375.7M, up from $293.6M (28% increase).
“In the first half of 2011, we have seen strong license revenues driven by an increase in design activity around ARM technology across a broad range of end applications. Major semiconductor vendors and consumer electronics companies are making long-term commitments to using ARM technology in their future product developments, underpinning growth in ARM’s long-term royalty revenues.”
Some Points of Interest
- 1.1 billion processor shipped in Q2
- Next generation Operating System will work natively on ARM; Windows 8, Google Chrome OS
- Mali GPU now shipping in high volumes, which in turn is helping drive the Mali Development ecosystem
- 29 licenses signed in Q2; 68 in H1
- Two Additional licensee of the Cortex-A15 processor. Current announced licensees are; Broadcom, Fujitsu, LG, Samsung, ST Ericsson & Texas Instruments
- ARM continues to grow faster than the Semiconductor Industry in all target markets
- Processor IP at different node levels progress; 32nm in production, 28nm delivered to lead partners, and 14nm in development
- New Cortex-A series processor on 2011 roadmap for smartphones and Digital TV
- An interim dividend of 1.39 pence per share, an increase of 20% over the 2010 interim dividend of 1.16 pence per share. This interim dividend will be paid on 5 October 2011 to shareholders on the register on 9 September 2011.
We have been quiet for the past month or two, but tomorrow we will provide you with the key points from ARM Holdings Q2 results. We have already had results from Apple, Intel and Microsoft, so it will be interesting to see how our favourite Chip designer is performing. Although we often talk at length about the Cortex-A series of processors, these only make a fraction of ARM’s revenues. Tomorrow’s half-yearly may shine some light on the inventory levels at Semiconductor companies and if they are impacting ARM quarterly revenues.
We’ll see you then.
Yesterday, Nvidia announced its acquisition of Icera, a UK based company that specialises in Baseband processors. It has been agreed by both companies for a very impressive $367 million, although it is not expected to complete for another 30 days.
Nvidia gains access to some of the world’s most impressive hardware and software Baseband technology around. Many analysts believe that Icera’s technology will gain a significant gain in marketshare in the upcoming 4G revolution, and the acquisition by Nvidia only strengthens its position.
Nvidia, once just a GPU company, is now transforming itself into a clone of Qualcomm. It now has its own ARM architecture license, it’s own mobile GPU technology and now its own Baseband technology. This acquisition is a very smart move by Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, as it will enable it to offer a complete mobile processor solution for their prospective clients.
Back in September 2010, Intel announced their acquisition of Infineon Wireless Division that develops their own Baseband solutions. However, Intel paid a whopping $1.4 billion for their respective technology, which incidentally is based on an ARM processor.
Very little has been said about this news item considering how important it really is. This isn’t just an acquisition; this is a game changing acquisition for Nvidia. In the future they will be able to offer a complete ARM solution to their customers. Qualcomm and its Board of Directors will be worried about this, but it will not have come as a surprise to them. It was well known in the industry that Nvidia was looking to acquire this technology.
For us, this news just backs up everything we know to be true in the consumer electronics industry today; everything must be integrated into a small and most power-efficient processor. If you can’t provide an integrated solution, then you’re not providing a required solution.
Apple currently uses an Infineon Baseband processor for its current range of gadgets such as the iPad2 and iPhone 4. It remains to be seen if they decide to switch to another companies design or actually acquire their own technology. We are sure we will find out later in 2011.
AMD, the x86 and GPU expert has no such technology at their disposal and looks like it could be on the road to nowhere if it doesn’t soon realise that everything is going mobile. 2012 could be a really tough year for them if ARM continues to march into x86 territory. Exciting times.
In yet another major coup for ARM, the South Korean Electronics giant LG announced that it has signed a new licensing agreement that allows them access to ARM’s high performance Cortex-A series processors and Mali GPUs. This includes the now popular Cortex-A9 processor as well as the upcoming Cortex-A15 processor and Mali-T604 GPU.
LG has been an ARM licensee since 1995, but this new level of commitment will see LG use its technology across a far wider range of devices such as STB’s, TV’s as well as smartphones and tablets.
This is great news for ARM and consumers. It shows how ARM technology is now ubiquitous in high-performance and low-power devices. Back in 2009, Intel proudly announced LG as a smartphone partner before the product was shelved. Then came the Nokia partnership which again crumbled to dust when they announced their partnership with Microsoft to use Windows Phone 7 as the basis for all future phones.
We see the adoption of ARM technology by a wide range of companies as a way of ensuring innovation. We shouldn’t have to rely on one company for improvements. The ARM business model may not be a multi-billion dollar money-maker (for ARM), but it helps companies produce cost-effective products that allows them to innovate using their own patents and ideas.
We don’t often comment on articles written by staff members at our favourite technology company, but its latest article piqued our interest. It explains the relevance of the Open Source V8 Codec and how the contributions made by ARM and many other companies and individuals have led to significant improvements in performance.
We know that ARM processors are improving at a phenomenal pace, but what we often forget is the impact of the software they run. The article highlights how the latest V8 codec is many times faster than the version available just 12 months ago. Using the same hardware platform, the benchmarks highlight an improvement of up to 500% – impressive. The jump from a single-core Cortex-A8 to a dual-core Cortex-A9 is an approximate 2x gain in performance. Any software gain in software will seem like even more.
The author points out that the current V8 Codec will not be available in products until sometime in H2 2011, and goes on to tease us with even more optimisations in the pipeline for the upcoming Cortex-A15 super-processor. Well worth a read.