LONDON – Mali graphics technology from IP licensor ARM Holdings plc shipped in tens of millions of partners' chips in 2011, and will do even better in 2012, particularly in digital televisions, according to CEO Warren East.
East expects ARM to beat its rival graphics IP licensor Imagination Technologies Group plc in digital television in 2012 to achieve 70 percent market share of those televisions with embedded graphics capability.
The Mali product line was formed by ARM around the acquisition of Norwegian graphics cores developer Falanx Microsystems AS in 2006. East and other ARM executives often talk about a four year period that it can take to get from license to revenue for its cores, so achieving sales revenue in 2011 and competing with Imagination was important to ARM.
"Mali graphics is now generating royalty. We said 2011 was going to be the year of tens of millions of units of Mali graphics. It was indeed a year of tens of millions of units of Mali graphics. We're going to see that trend continue in 2012, particularly with the digital TVs," East said to financial analysts assembled to discuss ARM's 4Q11 financial results on Tuesday (Jan. 31).
East added that Mali graphics processors are well positioned in the television space where the chip providers are choosing to license in GPUs. "We expect that of the TVs that ship in 2012, certainly more than 50 million of them will have embedded graphics, and we would expect to have about 70 percent of the market share in graphics in digital TVs in 2012," East said.
"We did tens of millions of units of Mali in 2011 with many more tens of millions to come in 2012," East said "It could be three digits but probably high-end tens of millions," he added.
Imagination is the market leader in licensed GPUs and reckoned 230 million units shipped containing its IP, predominantly graphics, in the year to Oct. 31, 2011. It is also the incumbent in many smartphone and tablet computer applications; a situation ARM may find it hard to shift Imagination from.
Various examples of Mali are reported to be designed in to Samsung Exynos processors and the 45-nm NovaThor U9500 application processor from ST-Ericsson. However, both Samsung and ST-Ericsson also work closely with Imagination and ST-Ericsson has switched back to an Imagination PowerVR Series 6 GPU for the 28-nm NovaThor A9600.
Fabless chip company MStar Semiconductor Inc. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) is one of the companies that could help to drive ARM success in television. It was revealed earlier this week to have been shipping Mali-400 GPU based chips for televisions for some time. Intriguingly it appears that the Mali-400 is lining up alongside a MIPS main processor inside the MStar chips.
East emphasized that ARM now has an extensive pipeline filled with Mali license deals. The company added five licenses in the last quarter of 2011 to bring the total to 58 deals and its also announced two cores in development under the codenames Skryrim and Tyr.
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