SANTA CLARA, Calif. – ARM CEO Warren East said Internet of Things
applications could double the company's market size, he wouldn't
"bet against" Nokia and his company is envisioning future technology
evolution by building internal platforms.
In a wide-ranging interview at ARM TechCon, EE Times asked East
about how the company is adapting to better serve its increasing
domain breadth that now ranges from servers, through mobile clients
and down to the Internet of Things (IoT).
"The Internet of Things for us is about the sale of
microcontrollers. We think it is likely to follow a similar path to
East explained that the first microprocessors in cell phones were
32-bit devices that were required to spend most their time running
the cellular communications protocol. The processor clock cycles
that became available when the phone was not being used for a call
were put to uses running early games on tiny displays. Now we are
used to multiple processor cores on an SOC, and multiple processor
chips in a mobile phone; a modem chip, an application processor, a
So East expects a move to multiple cores in MCUs. "That alone would
double the market size for ARM," he said.
Toward 20 percent
The market is running at about 8 billion MCUs shipped per year
across all applications, said East. In 2010 the ARM architecture had
penetrated about 10 percent of the MCU market and in 2011 about 15
percent, he said. "2012 is looking like another good year. I think I
would be disappointed if it wasn't up around 20 percent."
But will ARM expand its intellectual property remit into
mixed-signal, wireless, MEMS and other IP, which are needed in
wireless sensor networks? Or will ARM stick to the digital focus
that has been its hallmark across its first 22 years of existence?
"A number of technology pieces are needed. And thinking holistically
is vital to make things take off. Maybe we need to get involved at
the technology level. But more important is to make standards
happen," said East, clearly referring back to the announcement that
ARM was becoming a leading member of the Weightless Special Interest
The Weightless group is looking to drive standardization in the
intelligent re-use of spectrum allocated to broadcast services to
open up dedicated radio channels for machine-to-machine
communications and the Internet of Things.
When specifically asked about mixed-signal IP, East said: "We're not
a mixed-signal company," said East.
On the other hand it must be remembered that ARM wasn't a graphics
company until it bought Falanx Microsystems in June 2006.