It's still an open question how the industry will pay for the increasing complexity of making chips, said Segars in a nod to the need for multi-patterned lithography at 20nm and beyond:
At 20nm, scaling isn’t what it was historically, thus the price per transistor hasn’t been on the same curve as it was in the past decade so somewhere along the supply chain someone will pay for it. I think we will see the number people adopting 20nm will be low compared to past nodes.
More people will stay on 28nm and innovate more in design. Foundries will have more variants of 28nm, and there is a big investment in next generation transistor technology to give more benefits for the cost. I think we are in a transition period in which the industry is interested in getting to FinFETs as soon as possible.
Ultimately, high-end devices may get more expensive, but there also will be more volume on more mature 28nm processes and the net of that is TBD.
Segars also talked about the importance of industry standards for the Internet of Things on the heels of ARM's participation in the Thread Group that is defining a new home automation protocol. In the quarter, ARM signed 20 new licenses for its Cortex-M microcontroller-class designs and reported its customers shipped 900 million Cortex-M units:
Fragmentation in IoT is clearly a risk. The easiest thing to do is build a closed system, and we think that’s a bad outcome. So we are looking at all kinds of standardization for how products work with one another. Thread is one of those. We are looking at standards around security and encryption and the role of government -- It's very early days for IoT.
ARM expects the first servers using its cores will ship late this year, although it counts 2015 is the really beginning of this new market. By 2018, it expects to have a 10% to 15% share of the server market and a 2% share of the total PC market of which servers are a part.
ARM has a total of 16 server licensees. AMD, Applied Micro, and Cavium announced 64-bit ARM server SoCs so far this year.
Sales of a billion entry-level devices should expand smartphones sales to 1.9 billion by 2018, ARM predicts.
— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times