Out of the barn giant arm, Intel is the best auxiliary?

 Out of the barn giant arm, Intel is the best auxiliary?

More than 95% of smart phones and tablets in the world adopt arm architecture. Arm has designed a large number of RISC processors, related technologies and software with high cost performance and low energy consumption.

The origin of arm may have a little causal relationship with Intel.


On December 5, 1978, physicist Hermann Hauser and engineer Chris curry founded the Cambridge processing unit (CPU) in Cambridge, UK. Its main business is to supply electronic equipment for the local market.

In 1981, the BBC planned to broadcast a program to improve the popularity of computers throughout the UK. They hoped that acorn would produce a computer to match it. At first, acorn planned to use Motorolas 16 bit chip, but found it too slow and expensive, costing nearly a fifth of the cost of a computer. They turned to Intel for information on the design of the 80286 chip, but they were refused and were forced to develop their own.

Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber, computer scientists from Cambridge University, are responsible for designing a microprocessor for acorns own 32-bit processor, which is a great task. However, the company is short of resources, so the design must be refined and concise. Sophie is responsible for the instruction set development of arm1, and Steve is responsible for the chip design. The first arm design is based on 808 lines of basic code.

The development project of arm (acorn rismachine) started some time in late 1983 or early 1984, which is also the origin of arm. The first chip was submitted to acorn on April 26, 1985. Acorn Archimedes was the first home computer based on reduced instruction set (RISC). RISC supports simple instructions, so it has low power consumption and low price, which is especially suitable for mobile devices. In the early stage, the typical device using ARM chip is Apples Newton PDA.

The birth of arm and IP business model

On November 27, 1990, acorn company was officially reorganized into arm computer company, fully known as advanced RIS computers Ltd. Apple contributed 1.5 million pounds, VLSI chip manufacturer 250 thousand pounds, and acorn itself invested 1.5 million pounds in intellectual property rights and 12 engineers. The companys office is very humble, a barn in Cambridge.

Around 1991, Robin saxoby, who provided chips for CPU companies, came to arm as CEO. He introduced the IP business model to save companies that were short of funds and had poor business. Arm licenses chip designs to many semiconductor companies, charging licensing fees and royalties for later production of silicon wafers.

Specifically, arm has three authorization methods: processor, pop and architecture authorization.

Processor licensing refers to authorizing the cooperative manufacturer to use the processor designed by arm. The other party can not change the original design, but can adjust the frequency and power consumption of products according to their own needs.

Pop (processor Optimization Pack) authorization is an advanced form of processor authorization. Arm sells optimized processors to authorized partners to facilitate them to design and produce processors with guaranteed performance under specific processes.

Architecture authorization is that arm will authorize partners to use their own architecture, so that they can design processors according to their own needs.

It is this model that eventually makes arm chips blossom everywhere, and arm has established mutually beneficial partnership with these companies. In 1993, arm licensed the products to cirrus logic and Texas Instruments (TI). The cooperation with Texas Instruments has brought an important breakthrough to arm. Moreover, it also established a reputation for arm company and confirmed the feasibility of the authorization model.

In 1994, Nokia was recommended to apply tis arm based system design to the upcoming GSM mobile phone. Considering the memory space, Nokia opposes the use of arm because the overall system cost of production is limited. So arm develops a 16 bit custom instruction set, which reduces the memory space. The design is licensed by Ti and sold to Nokia. Nokia 6110 is the first GSM mobile phone with ARM processor, which has been a great success since it came into the market. ARM7 became arms flagship mobile design and has since been licensed to more than 165 companies. Since 1994, these companies have produced more than 10 billion chips.

Mobile chip market leader

There are two reasons for listing on both sides. First, when technology stocks were in the bubble stage, the headquarters was mainly outside the US, and ARM believed that a reasonable valuation could be obtained through the Nasdaq market. Second, arms two major shareholders are American company and British company, and arm hopes to retain acorns existing British shareholders.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the whole industry suffered a collapse, and the overall stock price on the stock market decreased by nearly 89%, which led to a sharp decline in arms revenue. However, compared with other companies, arm still achieved its profit target, and there was no debt or bad financial situation. Arm has entered a new era of non quarterly development. It has carefully planned the road map of the enterprise in the next five years and started to implement the long-term plan.

In 2001, Warren East was appointed CEO of arm, and Robin saxoby took over the chairmanship of arm. The vision of becoming a standard processor architecture is being realized.

Microprocessors have become so small that they take up only a small area of the chip, so the problem that follows is how to build a software based system on a single chip or system on chip (SOC) solution, despite the huge investment and cost of ownership associated with the maintenance of proprietary processor architectures. Most companies lack design teams that can build their own microprocessors, or the tools needed to make microprocessors run efficiently. This is one of the main reasons why microprocessors take the lead in using IP license model. Arm products are therefore applied to more and more SOC, especially in the fast-growing mobile phone market. Arm has gradually become the de facto standard.

In 2007, with the advent of iPhone and the rapid rise of app store, global mobile applications are completely bound to arm instruction set. Then, in 2008, Google launched Android, which is also based on ARM instruction set. So far, smart phones have entered a stage of rapid development, and arm has thus established its dominant position in the smartphone market. In the same year, the shipment of arm chips reached 10 billion.

In 2011, Microsoft announced that the next version of windows will officially support arm processor, which is a major event in the history of computer industry development, marking that the dominant position of x86 processor has been shaken.

The success of arm has occasional opportunities, of course, also lies in the rare IP business model at that time, which explains the true meaning of the concept of win-win cooperation. This is not the same road as Intel, but also out of the same glory.

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