ARM Gets Boost From Smartphones While PCs Hurt Intel, AMD
ARM officials said they are well-positioned to deal with the slumping PC market, noting, for example, that shipments of ARM-based storage chips—for flash and solid-state drives—more than made up for the decline the company saw in PC hard disk drive controllers. At the same time, the company is not putting its entire future in the mobile phone space. Pointing to the microcontroller space, ARM officials noted that while that part of the industry grew at 20 percent in the quarter, ARM’s revenues there were up 40 percent. East said that “five of the 10 billion or more chips we are going to ship this year will be unrelated to mobile phones.” ARM also continues to position itself to expand deeper into the data center in areas such as low-power servers and networking gear. Already some ARM partners, such as Calxeda and Marvell Technologies, are leveraging ARM’s 32-bit designs to build servers. However, the real push will be when systems using ARM’s upcoming ARMv8 architecture—which includes such key server capabilities as 64-bit support and greater memory—start hitting the market next year. East said the company already is seeing partners licensing the ARMv8 architecture for use in mobile devices and computers. At the same time, he noted that Marvell already is deploying some ARM-based servers with Baidu, China's largest search engine company. In addition, top-tier server vendors like Hewlett-Packard and Dell are looking to use ARM chips in some low-power servers aimed at cloud computing and Web 2.0 environments, while AMD has said it will make ARM-based server chips to complement its own x86 Opteron processors. Intel is developing a family of Atom processors aimed at the microserver space. While HP officials made headlines in November 2011 when it announced its low-power Project Moonshot systems will include ARM-based chips, the company’s first option was Intel’s Atom “Centerton” chips. Intel also is readying the next-generation “Avoton” processors, which will be available later this year.
HP officials said earlier this month that they also will leverage ARM-based chips from Calxeda, Marvell and Texas Instruments in Moonshot servers, as well as Xeon chips from Intel and processors from AMD.