SAN JOSE, Calif. Leveraging its homegrown ARM-based Sheeva CPU processors, Marvell Technology Group's co-founder and CEO has a clear vision: Enabling the next billion users of connected devices.
In today's electronics industry, Marvell is not alone in its quest. Nor is its idea necessarily new.
Both Nvidia and Freescale Semiconductor, for example, are betting big on netbooks that run Linux on an ARM processor. They hope to stir up competition for--if not an end--the current Windows-Intel dominance of the notebook PC market.
In the lead up to Taiwan's Computex show in June, Nvidia, with its Tegra SoC (based on ARM11), and Freescale, with its i.MX51 CPU (ARM Cortex-A8), are racing to pick up design wins from bigger computer OEMs and ODMs.
Meanwhile, Texas Instruments, which is pushing its ARM-based OMAP processors, is counting on cellphone and consumer electronics OEMs familiar with ARM to become a disruptive force in the notebook PC market.
Marvell, on the other hand, scoffs at netbooks. The company has set its sights on the non-PC, non-netbook markets.
Marvell CEO Sehat Sutardja said during a recent interview with EE Times: "A lot of people tell us, 'Oh, you are doing ARM because you want to replace PCs.' But they are wrong."
High-tech companies tend to chase existing markets like PCs, said Sutardja. "But why should we when the next billion [users] is much bigger than the PC market?"
The Marvell CEO stressed: "PCs will be always PCs," quickly adding: "You don't want to throw away the PC's legacy overnight." But next-generation Internet devices "shouldn't pretend to be a PC."
Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat, agreed. Companies developing "those devices that look, smell and act like a PC" will be "fighting an uphill battle against Intel and Microsoft," he said.
Marvell's mission is to insinuate its Sheeva CPU into a number of connected consumer devices. The company's strategy includes Sheevas designed into digital photo frames, used to upgrade feature phones into smart phones and powering set tops, Blu-ray recorders and other connected devices that "allow consumers to absorb content," according to Sutardja.