March 16, 2017
By Peter Clarke, EETimes Europe
Since its formation in 1990 processor IP licensor ARM Ltd. (Cambridge, England) has continually added layers of engineering activity to its primary business of circuit design licensing.
However, Moore's Law and the passage of time drives change as does corporate success, and for ARM the speed of layering up of technical activity appears to be accelerating. ARM is now a subsidiary of Japan's Softbank Group and one of the reasons Softbank made its $32 billion acquisition of ARM in 2016 was because it liked the company's active and comprehensive position on the Internet of Things (IoT). ARM is now a solutions company according to Ian Smythe, senior director of marketing programs at ARM; and that would also seem to reflect that things are changing.
Time was when ARM defined itself as a means by which the semiconductor industry could avoid repeatedly re-inventing the processor. Or looked at another way, ARM was akin to an outsourced processor R&D group for industry players. As a result, ARM designed processor cores and licensed them to multiple semiconductor companies – and that was it. The semiconductor companies saved money and ARM made a little.
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