Microprocessor designers ARM sold for £24.3bn

Softbank acquires ARM infographic

If you start to count how many devices in your home are powered by an ARM-designed processor, you might be surprised by the result…especially if you have a smart home or lots of devices connected to the ‘Internet of Things’.

The most obvious devices are your smartphones and tablets. Apple iPhones and iPads, even though the processor is branded as Apple, all use technology designed by ARM, as do many Android devices. Yet, chances are that your smart TV, your Blu-ray player, even your humble washing machine all contain an ARM-designed processor.

The ARM story began with the Acorn, the manufacturers of the incredibly popular BBC Micro back in the early ’80s. Acorn went on to develop one of the first home computers based on RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) principles…that is have fewer instructions that the processor understands but execute those instructions much much faster than the more common (at the time) CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) processors. They became ‘Advanced RISC Machines Ltd’ and ultimately ‘ARM’.

Where ARM got their competitive advantage is that processors using their designs used very little power compared to their competitors. This made them ideal for battery-powered devices since it meant that a battery/charge would last longer. ARM don’t manufacture the processors themselves, they design them and then licence the design to other companies (eg Apple and Samsung) who do the manufacturing. ARM take a relatively small licence fee, but they are sold in such huge volumes that it is a very profitable business.

The proposed new owner of ARM, SoftBank (subject to shareholder approval) has ambitious plans to grow the company over the next five years and has made assurances that it will maintain a strong UK presence.

How many ARM powered devices have you got at home?

Posted by
on 18 Jul 2016
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