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ARM Holdings

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ARM Holdings

ARM Holdings plc
Type Public limited company
Industry Semiconductors
Founded 1990 (Cambridge)
Founders Robin Saxby, Jamie Urquhart, Mike Muller, Tudor Brown, Lee Smith, John Biggs, Harry Oldham, Dave Howard, Pete Harrod, Harry Meekings, Al Thomas, Andy Merritt, David Seal[1]
Headquarters Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
Key people Stuart Chambers (Chairman)
Simon Segars (CEO)
Products Microprocessor designs and graphics processing unit (GPU) designs
Revenue £714.6 million (2013)[2]
Operating income £153.5 million (2013)[2]
Net income £104.8 million (2013)[2]
Employees Circa 2,000 (2012)[3]
Website .comarm
The entrance to ARM1, one of the buildings on ARM campus in Cambridge, England ()
The ARM I building at Peterhouse Technology Park, Cambridge. The building is a work by architects Barber – Casanovas – Ruffles .[4]

ARM Holdings plc (ARM) is a British multinational semiconductor and software design company with its head office in Cambridge, England. Its largest business is designing processors (CPU) bearing the ARM name, although it also designs software development tools under the DS-5, RealView and Keil brands, systems and platforms, system-on-a-chip (SoC) infrastructure and software. It is considered to be market dominant in the field of processors for mobile phones (smartphones or otherwise) and tablet computers and is arguably the best-known of the 'Silicon Fen' companies.[5]

Processors based on designs licensed from ARM, or designed by licensees of one of the ARM instruction set architectures, are used in all classes of computing devices from microcontrollers in embedded systems – including real-time safety systems (cars' ABS),[6] smartTVs (Google TV) and all modern smartwatches (such as Qualcomm Toq) – up to smartphones (such as all Apple's iPhones), tablets (such as all Apple's iPads), laptops (some Chromebook versions), desktops[7][8] (first use was in the Acorn Archimedes), servers[9] and supercomputers/HPC.[10][11][12]

ARM's Mali line of graphics processing units (GPU) are used in laptops (some Chromebook versions), Android tablets (over 50% market share[13]) and smartphones (such as some versions of Samsung's products up to the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 tablet and Samsung Galaxy S 5 smartphone) and smartwatches (Samsung Galaxy Gear). It is third most popular in mobile devices.[14]

Systems, including iPhone smartphones, frequently include many chips, from many different providers, that include one or more licensed ARM cores, in addition to those in the main (ARM-based) processor;[15] Chips for all common network related technologies: Bluetooth, WiFi and broadband[16] (and non-network related functions such as with Apple M7) in smartphones, in addition to corresponding equipments such as Bluetooth headsets,[17] up to newest 802.11ac routers[18] and provider's cellular LTE.[19]

ARM's main CPU competitors include Intel (Atom), Imagination Technologies (MIPS) and AMD (that will also sell 64-bit server processors[20]), and its GPU competitors include Imagination Technologies (PowerVR), Qualcomm (Adreno) and increasingly Nvidia and Intel. Qualcomm and Nvidia combine their GPUs with an ARM licensed CPU while Intel doesn't.

ARM has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It has a secondary listing on NASDAQ.



The acronym ARM, first used in 1983, originally stood for "Acorn RISC Machine", the processor from Acorn Computers, its first RISC processor used in the original Acorn Archimedes and one of the first RISC processors. However, when the company was incorporated in 1990, the acronym was changed to stand for "Advanced RISC Machines" in the company name "Advanced RISC Machines Ltd." Then, at the time of the IPO in 1998, the company name was changed to "ARM Holdings",[21] often just called ARM just as the processors.


The company was founded in November 1990 as Advanced RISC Machines Ltd and structured as a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and VLSI Technology.[22][23][24] The new company intended to further the development of the Acorn RISC Machine processor, which was originally used in the Acorn Archimedes and had been selected by Apple for their Newton project. Its first profitable year was 1993. The company's Silicon Valley and Tokyo offices were opened in 1994. In 1997, ARM invested in Palmchip Corporation to provide a system on chip platforms and to enter into the disk drive market.[25][26] In 1998 the Company changed its name from Advanced RISC Machines Ltd to ARM Ltd.[27] The Company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange and NASDAQ in 1998.[28] Apple's shareholding had fallen to 14.8% by February 1999.[29]

In 2010, ARM joined with Not For Profit Open Source engineering company, Linaro.[30]



  • Micrologic Solutions, a software consulting company based in Cambridge[31]


  • Allant Software, a developer of debugging software[32]
  • Infinite Designs, a design company based in Sheffield[33]
  • EuroMIPS a smart card design house in Sophia Antipolis, France[34]


  • The engineering team of Noral Micrologics, a debug hardware and software company based in Blackburn, UK[35]


  • Adelante Technologies of Belgium, creating its OptimoDE data engines business, a form of lightweight DSP engine[36]





  • Obsidian Software Inc., a privately held company that creates processor verification products[42]
  • Prolific, a developer of automated layout optimisation software tools, and the Prolific team will join the ARM physical IP team[43]


  • Internet of Things startup Sensinode[44]
  • Cadence’s PANTA family of high-resolution display processor and scaling coprocessor IP cores[45]



Business model

Unlike most traditional microprocessor suppliers, such as: Intel, Freescale (the former semiconductor division of Motorola) and Renesas (a former joint venture between Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric),[47] ARM only creates and licenses its technology as intellectual property (IP), rather than manufacturing and selling its own physical CPUs, GPUs, SoCs or microcontrollers. This model is similar to fellow British design houses: ARC International, and Imagination Technologies who have similarly been designing and licensing GPUs, CPUs, and SoCs, along with supplying tooling and various design and support services to their licensees.


The company has offices and design centres across the world, including San Jose, California, Austin, Texas, and Olympia, Washington in the United States; Bangalore in India; Trondheim in Norway; Lund in Sweden; Sophia Antipolis in France; Munich in Germany; Yokohama in Japan; China, Taiwan, Slovenia and Hungary.[48]

An ARM processor in a Hewlett-Packard PSC-1315 printer.


A characteristic feature of ARM processors is their low electric power consumption, which makes them particularly suitable for use in portable devices.[49] In fact, almost all modern mobile phones and personal digital assistants contain ARM CPUs, making them the most widely used 32-bit microprocessor family in the world. Today ARMs account for over 75% of all 32-bit embedded CPUs.[50]

ARM processors are used as the main CPU for most mobile phones, including those manufactured by Apple, HTC, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung;[51] many PDAs and handhelds, like the Apple iPod and iPad,[52][53] Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, Game Park GP32 and GamePark Holdings GP2X; as well as many other applications, including GPS navigation devices, digital cameras, digital televisions, network devices and storage.[54] The WLAN processor of Sony's PlayStation Portable is an older ARM9.[55]


ARM offers several microprocessor core designs that have been "publicly licensed" 830 times including 117 times for their newer "application processors" (non-microcontroller) used in such applications as smartphones and tablets.[56] Six of those companies have a licence for the their most powerful processor core, the 64-bit Cortex-A57 (some including ARM's other 64-bit core the Cortex-A53) and four have a licence to their most powerful 32-bit core, the Cortex-A15.

Cores for 32-bit architectures include Cortex-A15, Cortex-A12, Cortex-A17, Cortex-A9, Cortex-A8, Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A5, and older "Classic ARM Processors", as well as variant architectures for microcontrollers that include these cores: ARM Cortex-R7, ARM Cortex-R5, ARM Cortex-R4, ARM Cortex-M4, ARM Cortex-M3, ARM Cortex-M1, ARM Cortex-M0+, and ARM Cortex-M0 for licencing; the three most popular licensing models are the "Perpetual (Implementation) License", "Term License" and "Per Use License".[57]

Companies often license these designs from ARM to manufacture and integrate into their own System on chip (SoC) with other components such as GPUs (sometimes ARM's Mali) or radio basebands (for mobile phones).

In addition to licenses for their core designs, ARM offers an "architectural licence" for their instruction sets, allowing the licensees to design their own cores that implement one of those instruction sets. An ARM architectural licence is more costly than a regular ARM core licence,[58] and also requires the necessary engineering power to design a CPU based on the instruction set.

Processors believed to be designed independently from ARM: include Apple's (architecture license from March 2008[59]) A6, A6X, and A7[60] (used in iPhone 5, iPad and iPhone 5S), and Qualcomm's Snapdragon[61] (used in smartphones such as the US version of the Samsung Galaxy S4). There are around 15 architectural licensees at 2013,[62] including: Marvell, Apple, Qualcomm,[58] Broadcom[63] and some other.

ARM core licensees

Companies that are current licensees of the 64-bit ARMv8-A core designs include: AMD,[64] AppliedMicro (X-Gene),[65] Broadcom,[64] Calxeda,[64] HiSilicon,[64] Rockchip,[66] Samsung,[64] and STMicroelectronics.[64]

Companies that are current or former licensees of 32-bit ARM core designs include AMD,[67] Broadcom,[68] Freescale,[69][70] Huawei (HiSilicon division),[71] IBM,[72] Infineon Technologies (Infineon XMC 32-bit MCU families),[73] Intel (older "ARM11 MPCore"), LG,[74][75] NXP Semiconductors,[76] Renesas,[77] Rockchip,[66] Samsung,[78][79] STMicroelectronics,[80] and Texas Instruments.[81]

ARM architectural licensees

There are around 15 architectural licensees at 2013, but the full list is not public.[58][62]

Companies with a 64-bit ARMv8-A architectural licence include: Applied Micro,[82][83] Broadcom,[63][84] Cavium,[85] Huawei,[86][87] Nvidia,[88][89] AMD,[90][91] Samsung,[92] Apple[58]

Companies with a 32-bit ARM architectural licence include: Broadcom (ARMv7),[84] Faraday Technology (ARMv4, ARMv5),[93] Marvell Technology Group,[94] Microsoft,[95] Qualcomm,[96][97] Intel,[98] Apple.[58]

Mali licensees

Companies that are current licensees of the Mali GPU designs include: Rockchip,[66] Allwinner,[99] Samsung (Exynos).

Sales and market share

ARM-based CPU market share in 2010: over 95% in smartphone market; 10% in mobile computers; 35% in digital TVs and set-top boxes; however, ARM did not have any market share in servers and desktop PCs.[100]

As of 2014, over 50 billion chips with ARM cores inside have been produced, 10 billion of which were produced in 2013,.[101]

In the fourth quarter of 2010, 1.8 billion chips based on an ARM design were manufactured.[102]

With Microsoft's ARM-based Windows 8 OS, market research firm IHS predicted that in 2015 23% of all the PCs in the world will use ARM processors.[103]

In May 2012, Dell announced the Copper platform, a server based on Marvell’s ARM powered devices.[104] In October 2012, ARM announced the first set of early licensees of the 64-bit-capable Cortex-A57 processor.[64]

ARM's goal is by 2015 to have ARM-based processors in more than half of all tablets, mini-notebooks and other mobile PCs sold.[105]

Sales of chips containing ARM cores[106][107]
Year Billion units
2013 10
2012 8.7
2011 7.9
2010 6.1
2009 3.9
2008 4.0
2007 2.9
2006 2.4
2005 1.662
2004 1.272
2003 0.782
2002 0.456
2001 0.420
2000 0.367
1999 0.175
1998 0.051
1997 0.009
Total 51.094



At 2011 CES, Microsoft revealed that Windows 8 operating system will run on ARM architecture platforms.[108] Following this, Microsoft demonstrated Internet Explorer 10. For around 30 seconds of the 90-minute talk, they mentioned that some of the demos were running on an ARM computer.[109] During Microsoft's presentation of Windows 8 on 1 June 2011, a handful of the company's hardware partners showed off tablets and notebooks running the OS, including ARM instead of Intel or AMD.[110]

University of Michigan

In 2011, ARM renewed a five-year, $5 million research partnership with University of Michigan, which extended their existing research partnership to 2015. This partnership will focus on ultra-low energy and sustainable computing.[111][112]

Senior management

Warren East was appointed Chief Executive Officer of ARM Holdings in October 2001. In the 2011 financial year, East received a total compensation of £1,187,500 from ARM, comprising a salary of £475,000 and a bonus of £712,500.[113][114] East said in March 2013 that he would retire from ARM in May, with president Simon Segars taking over as CEO.[115] In March 2014, former Rexam chairman Stuart Chambers succeeded John Buchanan as chairman. Chambers, a non-executive director of Tesco and former chief executive of Nippon Sheet Glass Group, had previously worked at Mars and Royal Dutch Shell.[116]

See also


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External links

  • Official website

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