UK chip designer, ARM, is due to take its leading-edge low-powered processors dual core next year, with quad core soon after. Plus ARM harbours ambitions to take its low power chip technology - honed in the power-stingy world of mobile telephony - well beyond the phone. By Ian Scales.
The Cambridge-based company, which entered the mobile phone chip market in 1997, is now a major world force in processor design. Last year,ARM's silicon partners shipped just over 3 billion units into mobile phones alone.
In terms of growth areas, Rob Coombs, ARM's Director of Mobile Solutions, says the digital home has become important with its digital TV's and settop boxes. "The lastest generation of digital TVs are getting thinner and thinner, and that means you need lots of power-efficient performance," he tells TelecomTV's Ian Scales in an Executive Insight interview. "You can't have a lot of heat because.. ..nobody wants a fan in their digital TV.
So our whole model of power efficiency comes into play."
"We did 4 billion units last year," he continued, "and that means one billion didn't go into phones, so we're already doing a lot of things... it's an enormous range."
Of course smartphones are a huge opportunity as well. The company provided chips to just under 200 million units last year but expects to be providing 500 million units a year in three years' time.
"That's a massive opportunity because in a smartphone we might get five ARM chips," says Coombs.
Next year ARM expects to introduce dual core and then, eventually quad core devices, says Coombs.
"That enables us to scale the performance even further very rapidly for very little silicon cost and that gives us a big double jump in performance."
Last month ARM said it expected mobile phone makers to deliver the first models using more than one processor core next year.
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