The market for ever lower-powered technologies is heating up (or should that be cooling down?) with the news that Oracle may be eyeing up low-powered chip specialist ARM (or several other processor specialists) while Qualcomm is prepping an ultra-low-powered short range wireless technology. By Ian Scales.
Oracle’s Larry Ellison only said “you could see us buying chip companies” at an analysts’ meeting this week, but those few words from the great one were enough to spark a scramble for shares in ARM, AMD, and NVIDIA.
ARM shares shot up by 6 per cent even though ARM has already spent the last year appreciating in value as investors joined the dots between low-powered chips, smartphone growth and the probability that low-powered multi-core designs, like those produced by ARM, will play an important part in servers as power conservation in data centres comes to the fore. With Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, Oracle is now a big player in servers and low power is one of the server market’s top drivers.
The analysts who patrol the processor sector, however, have mostly been pouring scorn on the idea that Oracle could or should buy ARM: pointing out that the UK-based company is a technology licencer, not a manufacturer, and that its business only enjoys its current rude health because of its independence.
Slap ARM inside Oracle and its big customers, like Qualcomm and perhaps even Apple, would probably eventually walk, they say
Speaking of Qualcomm, the radio specialist is reported to be working on an ultra-low-powered wireless project it’s calling Peanut. Qualcomm claims that the technology will occupy the area currently covered by Bluetooth, but will do the job at much lower power requirement meaning new applications involving long-life batteries (or perhaps solar power) in the monitoring and machine to machine area might become viable.
Peanut involves very short distances (across a room at the max) and very low power (fractions of a single milliwatt) and Qualcomm is using the phrase ‘body area network’ to indicate that one of its functions will be to link personal devices when they’re adjacent to each other (in different pockets perhaps). The ‘few megabits per second’ technology has been under development by Qualcomm for four years and is said, by Qualcomm, to be ready for launch in about another year
In addition to the personal device applications, the technology is expected to turn up performing so-called machine-to-machine functions such as industrial control and health monitoring.
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