ARM is 20 years old today

Posted by – November 27, 2010

ARM was founded on November 27th 1990 in a converted barn outside Cambridge to exploit Acorn’s single greatest asset, the intellectual property bound up in its home-grown Acorn – now Advanced – Risc Machine processors. 20 Billion ARM processors have been shipped these past 20 years. 100 Billion are expected for the next 10 years.

The initial investment was $275 Thousand from VLSI and $1.5 Million from Apple.

ARM’s first task was to design a processor chip for the Apple Newton handheld, which for some reason commercially flopped. Could the reason have been its $800 price? Ironically, $800 is the same price consumers are paying for an unlocked iPhone today.

ARM’s first profitable year was 1993. The Company’s Silicon Valley and Tokyo offices were opened in 1994. The company now has offices and design centres across the world, including San Jose California, Austin Texas, Olympia Washington, Trondheim Norway, Sophia Antipolis Grenoble and Paris France, Grasbrunn Germany, Taipei Taiwan, Kfar Saba Israel, Seoul South Korea, Lund Sweden, Yokohama Japan, Shanghai Beijing and Shenzhen China, Bangalore India and Sentjernej Slovenia.

The founders of ARM consisted of 12 engineers led by Sir Robin Saxby who gave the company its global vision and the innovative licensing model under which it sold not physical silicon but designs for other companies to manufacture.

The introduction of the Nokia 6110 in 1998 was crucial to place ARM as the standard for powering mobile phones. Today, more than 5 billion people on this planet use mobile phones, 100% of which have an average of 2 and a half ARM Processors in them. (one as the main processor, one to control antennas and one for power management? etc). Smart phones have 4 or 5 ARM Processors inside them. (adding WiFi, touch screen controller?)

1998 was also the year ARM went public, it changed its name to ARM Holdings and freed itself of the differing agendas of its backers allowing it to present its products as a neutral platform for licensees who were competing among themselves. The years that followed and until now, demand for the ARM Architecture has exploded, and today chip providers ship more than 5 billion ARM Processors every year.

Now that ARM Cortex processors are proving themselves to be perfect for powering larger screens as in Tablets, it’s only a matter of time, maybe weeks or months until multi-core ARM processors break into the Laptop, Desktop and Server markets.

The ARM Cortex-A9 Powered Chrome OS “NexusBooks” that could run 40 hours on a battery using a Pixel Qi screen, that could be sold below $199 within weeks or months from now, that product is the single biggest threat to Intel.

To ARM from ARMdevices.net, Happy Birthday! May the next year bring your designs of Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 with Mali-400, then Tri-Core and Quad-Core, then ARM Cortex-A15 and Mali-T604 with help from the amazing software from Silicon Valley’s Google, Apple, even Microsoft, create massive disruption of the old business models of the old PC/Desktop/Laptop/Server markets of the old Silicon Valley of Intel.

Read the excellent ARM birthday article which inspired most of this one over at: theinquirer.net

Here’s a photo of the 12 founders of ARM, from left to right, Harry Meekings, John Biggs, the actual CTO Mike Muller, Jamie Urquhart, Robin Saxby, David Seal, Larry Oldham, Lee Smith, the actual President Tudor Brown (yellow tie), Pete Harrod, Dave Howard and Andy Merrit, many came from Acorn Computers (check out BBC’s Micro Men (2009) an entertaining 84mn TV movie about the 1978-1980s Acorn vs Sinclair)

New smart refrigerator based on ARM

Posted by – November 26, 2010

The brazilian subsidiary of Electrolux, together with ProFUSION Embedded Systems, have developed a new smart refrigerator called Infinity I-Kitchen that runs on a Freescale i.MX25 processor and was developed using Linux and the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries.

Here are features that could be provided in these intelligent fridges:
1. One-click wirelessly add missing ingredients to your Android device’s shopping list. Could also automatically place order for refill or for new ingredients with remote groceries delivery service.
2. It should somehow know what you have in the fridge. Preferably RFID would be used, but since that is not yet available. Somehow it should know. Maybe a built-in camera could figure from normal bar codes scanning, or manual input can be simplified.
3. Generate suggested recipes based on ingredients available, based on perrumption dates, based on calculating a healthy varied diet for each member of the house hold.

More info here, with links to screenshots and a virtual reality demo.

The technical reason TV Networks can block Google TV (for now..)

Posted by – November 25, 2010

I don’t have Google TV yet, I’m waiting for ARM Powered version of it, and they haven’t yet released it world wide. But I like to speculate about how it works as I am sure Google TV will revolutionize TV, and the Trillion-dollar/year TV industry.

The probable technical reason TV networks are able to currently block Google TV from accessing their online web tv offerings is probably flash.

The Chrome browser in Google TV can be set to User Agent: Generic (by default though it is set as User Agent: Google TV), thus making it impossible for websites to detect that the user visiting the website is using a set-top-box or a computer/laptop/tablet or other device.

The probable only way for them to detect the set-top-box, can only be the flash plugin. As Adobe probably doesn’t want to irritate the TV networks, due to them all using Flash, they probably also don’t want to allow Google to switch over the flash player in Google TV to User Agent: Generic.

Google probably also prefers to try as hard as possible to make some deals with the content providers instead of forcing Adobe into setting up Flash to be undetectable. As Google wants all these content partners also to allow their content be distributed on YouTube.

In any ways, if Google and the TV Networks don’t reach an agreement soon, I am sure Google will eventually ask Adobe to provide Flash in a totally undetectable fashion. And if that happens, the TV networks will only be able to decide if they want to have any “legal” streaming of their shows online or none at all. And if they decide to remove online flash streaming, the most popular application on Google TV boxes will most likely then be BitTorrent.

ARM enables better distribution of profits among supply chain participants

Posted by – November 25, 2010

In a Q&A on Digitimes, ARM President Tudor Brown said following:

We all know Taiwan-based manufacturers are capable of commercializing products pretty well, and they have dominated the global production of PCs. However, they have failed to keep the related profits in their pockets.

Tablet PC’s open platform will allow profits to be distributed more evenly among supply chain participants, unlike the current model in which CPU and OS giants take most of the earnings. An Android tablet, for example, is a final product with all essential components including software development and integration.

Acer, Asus, MSI are Taiwanese PC brands that have been expanding their market share in the last 10 years, they did this to keep more of the profits to themselves instead of only manufacturing all the laptops and PCs for mostly US and some European brands. The thing is, even while removing the branding intermediary, by having to compete on costs, selling Intel and Microsoft powered products is not leaving the Acer, Asus, MSI a lot of profits to keep for themselves. Still today, in the Intel x86 industry, most of the profits go to Intel and Microsoft.

It is still too early to determine how the tablet PC market will perform in 2011, with no historical context or sense to examine. Personally, I believe the market for tablet computers will likely generate between US$30 billion and US$60 billion next year. There will be more than a dozen players dividing up the pie, not just one or two. [Intel and Microsoft]

Ergo, the whole interest around the ARM Powered devices such as the tablets, smart phones, laptops, e-readers, it’s not only a case in ARM technology providing better value, lower cost, lower power consumption, sufficient performance (for web browsing) in lesser amounts of components and more compact form factors. It is not just about the ARM ecosystems unique abilities to foster increased innovation by industry wide collaboration and differentiation. The main benefit of ARM’s business model, is that by collaborating on software such as the free Android/Chrome OS/Google TV software OS and on other common solutions, the supply chain participants can keep more of the profits to themselves all the while still lower the cost to the consumer.

Despite more contenders, ARM-designed processors are still expected to remain the dominant technology for tablet PCs for three contributing factors: ARM’s well-established network of silicon partners allowing downstream players to diversify their solution providers, our energy-saving features, and software support around the chip architecture. We work with an increasing number of software providers targeting applications for mobile devices.

You can read the complete Q&A at: digitimes.com

My Top-12 videos filmed at the ARM Techcon 2010

Posted by – November 19, 2010

I had a lot of fun video-blogging 30 videos from the ARM Technology Conference in Santa Clara California from November 9th to November 11th. Because it can be a lot of work for you to navigate through all these videos, here is my list of top-12 videos that I filmed during this event. If you have other favorites, please post them in the comments.

1. Simon Segars, Executive VP and General Manager ARM Physical IP Division, interview with one of the board members of ARM, I try to ask some questions about how the company was founded and where the industry is going.

2. Marvell Armada XP Quad-core ARM Powered Servers, here’s an insight into how ARM Powered servers could power most of the cloud much more efficiently.

3. Gary Smith EDA on the future of Chip Design, an insight into software development, chip design, ARM, EDA and how the industry works.

4. ARM Mali-T604, the next generation GPU for ARM Powered devices, this is the big announcement from ARM during the conference. It’s the next generation GPU to go with the next-generation ARM Cortex-A15 processor, designs becoming available next year, and it takes at least a year or two for chip makers to implement those next-generation designs.

5. Linaro Graphics Group, an interview about how graphics acceleration is important in the open source Linux for ARM developments. I also interviewed George Grey the Linaro CEO.

6. John Bruggeman of Cadence on EDA360, some interesting talk about how the industry needs to collaborate on some points to better innovate on other points more efficiently.

7. Nufront ARM Cortex-A9 can run at 2Ghz for Desktop and Laptop usage, this Chinese chip maker is preparing upward 2Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 processor to power Desktops, Laptops, Thin Clients. They want the price to be below $200 to the end consumer, this is awesome.

8. PandaBoard, Texas Instruments ARM Cortex-A9, a first look at the next-generation Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor in the PandaBoard.org development kit. Will full speed web browsing be optimized using Neon acceleration and other hardware acceleration?

9. Nvidia Tegra2 ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core performance for web browsing, it’s interesting to see how the second core in ARM Cortex-A9 chips allow for faster web browsing in Android.

10. Samsung Orion ARM Cortex-A9 and Mali-400 shown for the first time, so far my most popular video from the conference. This chip will probably power the next generation Samsung Galaxy S/Tab devices, including also possibly Samsung’s Google TV and some of Samsung’s future laptop and netbook products. I also filmed some 3D games demonstrated running on this Orion processor.

11. ST Ericsson U8500 ARM Cortex-A9, they are also doing some interesting implementation of ARM Cortex-A9, presenting their demo with Meego developed in combination with the help from the Linaro project.

12. Freescale Kinetis Tower System now sampling, the Freescale Tower Systems look to be some fun development kits.

Backstage at Leo Laporte’s Twit Cottage

Posted by – November 19, 2010

A few days ago, I visited Leo Laporte’s Twit Cottage to bring him some Archos tablets (featured thus far in This Week In Google 69 and MacBreak Weekly 221) and I filmed these few seconds back stage as they were finishing the recording of the quite funny This Week In Tech episode 274. This has got to be one of the most advanced, most successful and most famous live and on-demand video podcasting studios in the world at the moment. They are expanding the Twit Network and moving into even larger studios soon.

ARM Powered Google TV coming

Posted by – November 19, 2010

I already guessed it (2, 3, 4), logically, Google is working with ARM to prepare the ARM Powered Google TV boxes to come probably around early next year, by the same time Google TV OS is open sourced. This will allow for cheaper Google TV, probably down towards the $99 price point, depending on some versions of Google TV excluding the HDMI input and IR Blasters features. Here are my guesses for what good value ARM Powered Google TV should be sold at early next year:

Google TV on ARM Cortex-A9, full 1080p playback support, including high bitrates, high profile, h264 in MKV and other containers.

Output only version: $99

Input/Output + IR version: $149

“We are talking to Google, but we have nothing to announce right now,” said Tudor Brown, president of ARM, at a technology conference in Taipei on Thursday.

Brown said ARM’s latest processors are less expensive and require less power than Intel’s Atom processor. “If Google TV is to be mainstream, it must be built on a lower power system, …on lower cost technology,” he said.

This way, all HDTV’s shipping with ARM Cortex-A9 will be able to include the full Google TV features for just the additional cost of $25 or a bit more for making each HDTV Smart as Marvell’s CEO Dr. Sehat Sutardja explained in his keynote from ARM Techcon.

Source: IDG News PC World
Found via: techmeme.com

Archos 70 Internet Tablet on Leo Laporte’s This Week In Google episode 69

Posted by – November 19, 2010

As I told you in yesterday’s MacBreak weekly 221 post, last Sunday as I was in the Silicon Valley to video blog the ARM Technology Conference for my http://ARMdevices.net site, I had fun traveling up to Petaluma and bring Leo Laporte some of the Archos Gen8 tablets (70, 43 and 32) so he could test them out and let his Twit gang also play with them. So that they could compare those with Apple and Samsung tablets. The time code in this “This Week In Google” episode 69 where they start talking about Archos is around the 5th minute.

You can discuss this video in the forum: http://forum.archosfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=40903

I want a Bluetooth remote on my watch for my tablets, yes 50€ Sony Ericsson LiveView is here

Posted by – November 19, 2010

It’s out now on Amazon.de for 50€, I want something like this. This could be perfect with my Archos 70 Internet Tablet and my $48 Sony DR-BT100CX Bluetooth Stereo Headset. The idea is to answer VOIP calls on the wrist watch and use the Bluetooth headset without having to take out the Android Tablet from the pocket.

Tudor Brown, President of ARM, keynote at ARM Techcon 2010

Posted by – November 18, 2010

Tudor Brown announces Mali-T604 and explains the status of the ARM industry. I will link to the full length video once I find the link.