EETimes (12/11/2009 12:31 PM EST)
PARIS — As recently as five years ago, ARM's competitors included a host of IP processor companies such as MIPS, ARC and Tensilica. Now, like it or not, the field of serious processor competition has dramatically narrowed to, well, ARM vs. Intel Corp.
ARM has also substantially expanded its processor core design sockets -- both to high-end and low-end markets. On one hand, the company has bravely marched into the multi-core future, and has relentlessly rolled out a series of Mali graphics processor units and video engines.
On the other hand, ARM this year made a genuinely strong foray into the microcontroller market. ARM took the first step by offering initial seed funding to Luminary Micro. Then earlier this year, Texas Instruments -- by acquiring Luminary Micro -- turned ARM into a household name in the microcontroller market.
Ninety ARM processors are shipped every second -- more than any other 32-bit processor IP supplier, the company's Web site claims.
So far, everything you hear about ARM sounds peachy. You're impressed.
But then, ask yourself: If you were running ARM's processor division, what's your biggest worry right now?
The answer is "plenty."
Not least among ARM's headaches is the serious competition posed by a gargantuan microprocessor company (Intel). You might lose sleep over how best to help your licensees navigate uncharted shoals of multi-core and multi-threaded CPUs. You might also be concerned about whether graphics companies like Nvidia, AMD or Imagination will become serious rivals as you move forward with your Mali GPU.
Most of all, you worry that you could be overstretching yourself.
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