Tag: arm

Chips with built in security go postal

smartphones-genericABI Research believes that by the end of this year processors including embedded security technology will reach the billion mark.

Vendors are building in the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) will reach 366 million as part of that figure.

The shipments are driven by governments, financial service companies and other enterprises largely to ensure secure ID and payments.

The market for TEE devices is still in its early stages, said ABI.  But shipments are bound to increase for them and for Host Card Emulation (HCE).

ARM is integrating TruZeone architecture into every Cortex-A family processor it licenses to vendors.

Unlike TEE devices, HCE depends on the cloud and lets banks introduce mobile NFC products without relying on smartphone SIMs.  ABI said that HCE support in smartphones is growing exponentially, and will account for shipments of 252 million by the end of the year.

Players in the game include ARM, Nok Nok Labs, NXP Semi, Infineon, Trustonic and Obertur Technologies.

AMD, Intel in tablet spat

tweedledummBitter semiconductor rivals Intel and AMD are set to up the stakes in 2015 with a fresh assault on the tablet market.

Both companies are often seen as the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of the chip market, continually foraying into battles where no one actually gets hurt.

But Digitimes, which is privy to both companies’ future roadmaps, said that they’ll foray out once more in an attempt to capture some slice of the tablet pie – estimated to represent 200 million units in 2015.

Intel has been forced to provide subsidies to companies in an attempt to bolster its rather feeble market share in the tablet and mobile markets.

It will kick off the show by releasing a system-on-a-chip (SoC) device codenamed Cherry Trail, which will be built using a 14 nanometre process and may be with the world as early as March next year.  The chip will have lower power consumption and support Windows and Android operating systems, said the wire.

But AMD is not going to stand still after receiving that SoC on the jaw.  It will introduce an X86 device dubbed Nolan, and an ARM device called Amur in the second half of next year.

ARM fails to dent X86 server market

intel_log_reversedBeancounters at mighty chip behemoth Intel can stop playing with their worry beads as it looks as though servers based on ARM technology are failing to dent X86 server business.

A report in Taiwanese wire Digitimes said that ARM has made serious attempts to invade the server business but hasn’t succeeding in storming the Intel fortress.

And with Intel having an 80 percent share in the PC market, shareholders in the chip giant believe that despite its appalling performance in the mobile space, it will continue to make high margins from its server chip offerings.

AMD is waiting in the wings but doesn’t have a great deal of traction in the server business,  the report claims.

Both ARM and Intel hope to make vast profits by being in the vanguard in offering products that will leverage the expected boom in the “internet of things”.

Intel and ARM are relying on cloud based apps to make everything work together.  These things are only a tiny fraction of the internet of things, however, and it’s hard to see either company having much of a share in the expected bonanza.

Intel to carry on subsidising tablets

Internet of ThingsThe attempt by Intel to penetrate the tablet market has cost it dear in subsidies over the last two years.

But it appears that the chip giant hasn’t given up the ghost on such a plan and, according to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, is likely to pour more cash into the venture.

Intel’s problem is that it has faced overwhelming competition on price from companies that use microprocessors from Mediatek and Qualcomm, based on designs from British chip designer ARM.

Even though Intel has several ARM licences, it declines to use those to compete and wants the market to realise the important part it plays in the mobile arena.  Or, to put it differently, Intel is a proud company and doesn’t want to lose face.

The subsidies to vendors have been aimed at tablets with screen dimensions of 10 inches and below, but Digitimes now says it may well extend those subsidies to tablets 12 inches and below.

Intel cannot afford not to be in the tablet business because it wants to be a key player in the so called Internet of Things.  Last week the chip giant said it was going to merge its mobile and comms businesses with its PC business, which will effectively disguise the hole in its profit and loss statements in the future.

Intel expects Chinese small chipmaker rebellion

1900-intl-forces-including-us-marines-enter-beijing-to-put-down-boxer-rebellion-which-was-aimed-at-ridding-china-of-foreigners-Intel boss Brian Krzanich has been consulting his i Ching and expects ARM to be a spent force in China within a few years.

He claims that new semiconductor partners in China will migrate to Intel and give up on ARM technology more widely used in smartphones and tablets.

Intel this year signed deals with Rockchip and Spreadtrum Communications to use Intel’s technology to make chips for low-cost smartphones and tablets aimed at China’s fast-growing consumer market.

Spreadtrum and Rockchip specialise in smartphone and tablet platforms that are easy for manufacturers to use. At the moment they use ARM technology.

Intel has been writing agreements with the Chinese chipmakers which still allow them to make ARM-based chips, but Krzanich thinks that in a couple of years they will not see the point.

With Qualcomm offering high-end chips based on ARM and Taiwan’s MediaTek attacking the Chinese market with inexpensive chips also designed using ARM, adopting Intel’s architecture is the only way that anyone can offer a way to differentiate with better performance and features.

The only way for small manufacturers to compete is by going to Intel, he reasons.

Intel and Rockchip are working on an Intel-branded tablet SoC, with Rockchip contributing expertise on connectivity, graphics and its experience in China’s domestic market. Spreadtrum, is working with Intel on SoCs expected out next year.

Since both outfits are small, they lack the resources to make separate chips based on Intel and ARM technology over the long term.

Krzanich said Intel might collaborate with more companies there.

ARM claims new Mali will be smoking

Bob_Marley__Smoking_Blighty chip designer ARM claims that its new Mali chips will offer both higher performance and higher energy efficiency. The top-end Mali-T860, for instance, supports 4K graphics and beyond while “being 45 percent more energy efficient across a wide range of content” compared to ARM’s current offerings.

The new GPUs include the high-end Mali-T860 GPU, the Mali-T830 GPU, and the Mali-T820 GPU. ARM is also introducing the Mali-V550 video processor and the Mali-DP550 display processor chip, which a coprocessor interface and support for 7 layer composition.

ARM said that the Mali-T860 is 45 percent more energy efficient across a wide range of content. It can support 4K graphics and beyond. Each processor is tuned to a different mobile submarket.

ARM claims its silicon will make it from drawing board to device far faster than before and there will be lots of them ranging from low end to high spec chips.

Currently, ARM Mali GPU designs are used by 60 partners and there were more than 400 million Mali GPUs shipping in 2013 alone.

HP intros ARM into datacentres

HPIn a sign that things wont be what they were in the past, HP said it has announced two servers based on ARM architecture, rather than the old fashioned Intel stuff.

The two enterprise class servers use 64-bit ARM microprocessors which it said “offer value choice in their compute strategy”.  Translated out of marketing speak, this means ARM based chips are much cheaper than Intel X86 chips.

HP is also offering a production platform letting software developers create, test and port applications to the ARM server.

The servers belong to HP’s Proliant Moonshot family –  the company claims that they will let companies scale to any workload, and are specifically aimed at datacentres.

The HP Proliant m400 server is part of a strategy the company has developed over some years to fit high engineering standards.

“ARM technology will change the dynamics of how enterprises build IT solutions to quickly address customer challenges,” said Antonio Neri, senior vice president and general manager, Servers and Networking, HP. “HP’s history, culture of innovation and proven leadership in server technology position us as the most qualified player to empower customers with greater choice in the server marketplace.”

The servers will support Ubuntu, Metal as a Service (MAAS) software preinstalled, and also offers IBM Informix.

HP customers already include Sandia National Labs, the University of Utah and Paypal.  The servers are available today.

Nvidia wrestles with ARM connections

arm-wrestlingARM Holdings Chief Executive Officer Simon Segars defended his smartphone graphics technology which Nvidia claims it invented.

Nvidia is currently taking Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm to court for using the technology in its phones and accusing both companies of infringing its property patents on graphics chip technology.

Nvidia said Samsung devices made with graphics technology from ARM, Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies illegally use its intellectual property, or IP.

Segars said that the company stood behind its IP and will work with its partners when something like this happened.

Nvidia is not suing ARM or Imagination yet but it did say it would ask the US International Trade Commission to prevent shipments of Samsung devices containing ARM’s Mali or Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architectures, as well as Qualcomm’s graphics technology.

Nvidia has to play this carefully. Nvidia depends on ARM’s technology to make its Tegra chips for tablets and cars.

Segars said that it did “create a bit of a curious situation… But we do a lot of business with a lot of people.”

Data centres face revolution

server-racksFour disruptive forces are set to change the face of the data centre by 2016.

That’s according to market research firm Gartner, which estimates that although the data centre market seems poised for growth, existing assumptions will be challenged.

Vendors like the 50 percent or more gross margins in storage and networking hardware and software but  one vendor might decide to slash its margins, so forcing a price war in the data centre industry.

Traditional data centre firms will also face disruption from cloud computing which will reduce the demand of for total amount of compute to total workload.  And Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Baidu are offering platform as a service, with the existing companies failing to offer something equally compelling.

Thirdly, economic warfare between the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will largely increase competition in the data centre infrastructure market.

Last, Gartner thinks that buyers will come to regard multinational providers as untrustworthy. Also there is an increase in small white box assemblers.

Gartner believes that while Intel, AMD, Western Digital and Seagate will sit pretty for the next fee years, the first two will see erosion from ARM and other architectures.  Storage will shift to flash.

Next year’s server wars may be cancelled

soldiers-2The major battle in the server space planned for next year may be only a minor skirmish with the usual suspects winning.

Intel needs to see off the expected competition from ARM and is going to chuck a lot more cash in the area to keep its position as market leader. What we are seeing from the Intel Developer Forum is that its answer will be a a new Xeon D family of chips.

Xeon D chips will be the first server chips based on the Broadwell architecture, and will go into dense servers starting next year. But these are not your normal server chips, they are effectively systems on a chip which means that they will be deliberately targeting anything “low level and power efficient” that ARM is expected to come up with.

It means that Intel does not think that its Xeon E3 and Atom chips code-named Avoton will be up to the task of taking on ARM. The Xeon D chip will be faster, but more power hungry than Avoton, which is based on an architecture called Silvermont used in mobile chips.

But Intel thinks that the Xeon D will provide more performance-per-watt, which punters will find attractive.

Intel does have some other advantages in any coming server war. Intel’s chips already go into more than 90 percent of servers, and server makers like Dell have said that the chances for success of ARM servers are diminishing due to product delays. Intel also has a head-start on software development over ARM.

ARM’s server chips are based on the ARMv8 architecture, and have integrated networking, storage and I/O controllers. Its key weapon against Intel is still lower power consumption, something Chipzilla is fast catching up on.

A variety of companies had indicated interest in making server processors based on blueprints from ARM,  but so far ARM 64-bit server processors have not been made available commercially.

Chip makers like Applied Micro and Advanced Micro Devices have delayed shipment of ARM-based chips.

Dell is offering prototype ARM servers for benchmarking and application development. Hewlett-Packard announced plans to use ARM processors in its Moonshot “dense” server, which uses x86 chips, but hasn’t announced a definitive release date for the ARM edition.

The other player in any coming war AMD is also expanding its low-power server processor lines,  which could also will hurt adoption of ARM servers.

The other big hurdle for ARM is the fact that most firms already have software and hardware based around x86. To adopt ARM-based servers, companies will not only have to invest in new servers and components, but also port applications to the architecture.

This could make a switch to ARM very expensive in terms of capital and final cost of ownership. Then there are some licensing issues surrounding the adoption of ARM servers, as companies will have to pay more for software per core used in them, Norrod said.

ARM is also finding its allies thin on the ground. ARM server pioneer Calxeda folded operations and earlier this year Nvidia scrapped server chip plans. Samsung has also abandoned ARM server chip development.

Nvidia sues Qualcomm and Samsung

nvidia-gangnam-style-330pxNvidia has sued Qualcomm and Samsung for infringing its patents on graphics processing technology.

Nvidia said Qualcomm and Samsung had used Nvidia’s patented technologies without a licence in Samsung’s mobile devices and the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge.

Nvidia said Samsung devices made with graphics technology from Qualcomm, Britain’s ARM and Imagination Technologies infringed on its patents.

Nvidia Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said that the pair were using Nvidia technology free and were shipping an enormous number of devices.

Nvidia did not say it is suing Imagination – part owned by Apple –  or ARM  – started by Apple really, but it did say it is asking the US International Trade Commission to prevent shipments of Samsung devices containing ARM’s Mali or Imagination’s PowerVR graphics architectures, as well as Qualcomm’s graphics technology.

However, since Imagination technology is also found under the bonnet of Apple’s iPhones, it could be that Nvidia plans to sue Apple.

It is clear that Apple was not a legal cage that Nvidia wanted to rattle yet. Huang said he was focused on Samsung and Qualcomm, and continues to have “productive conversations” with many other companies out there.

In other words the cunning plan is to take out Qualcomm and Samsung and the others will pay a lot of money to make Nvidia lawyers go away.

Samsung has said it will fight Nvidia, while the others have not made a comment.

Intel re-ARMing

rearm 2It seems that Intel has decided that in the long term its rival ARM has the right idea. We revealed that in the Eye a couple of weeks back.

Intel’s Brian Krzanich told the Citi Global Technology Conference that while ten years down the road the company will continue to get a bulk of its revenue from PCs and servers, a significant part of its revenue will come from mobile, Internet-of-Things and other emerging market segments.

To do that it will need to come up with some ultra-low-cost devices that will still need computing and communications capabilities.

That will mean working out a way to “take our silicon leadership and our architecture down into we talk about parts that may only cost $0.50 and have comms, CPU, everything down there and can run on small batteries.”

Although this is the normal “internet of things” style talk, it is the first time that Chipzilla has given the world its coming vision. In this case it is a super small chip which can run an entire computer’s services for less than 50 cents.

Intel has stayed out of the cheap chips market because the margins are incredibly small, but it is starting to look like it has realised that the Internet of Things will mean low-margin, micro-controllers and other low-cost chips. This will make it difficult for Intel to maintain its traditional 60 percent mark up.

Krzanich said that in a decade, Intel is definitely going to be a broader company across the much broader spectrum of computing. He is also not predicting the death of the PC or the server any time soon.

 

ARM ups 64-bit hype

arm_chipChip licensing company ARM said it has signed its 50th licensing agreement for the v8-A processing technology and said 27 firms have signed up for the show.

Although it did not specify the names of the 27 companies they include the usual suspects like Samsung and we know that Intel is now a big ARM customer too.

Noel Hurley, who runs the processor division of ARM claimed that tablets and smartphones are replacing PCs for many taks and the new 64-bit tech in the v8-A series is backwards compatible with 32-bit technology too.

That means the new tech will completely support the million plus 32-bit apps that already exist for the technology.

The number 50 is important for ARM in another way too, claimed Hurley, because the company said there are now 50 billion processors using its tech.

It won’t be long until there are 100 billion processors licensing its technology, according to ARM.

ARM and Intel are as bad as each other

tweddle dee and tweedle dumFor years, ARM and Intel have been snarling at each other that each other’s chips are more power efficient. ARM has claimed that the reason it was more power efficient thanks to fundamental differences in the ISA (instruction set architecture).

As we reported earlier this week, however, Intel is one of ARM’s biggest fans.

ARM uses RISC and Intel’s x86 uses CISC.  ARM says that makes a big difference. However a team from the University of Wisconsin has been looking at the two architectures RISC and CISC and thinks that ARM might be wrong and that ISA is less important.

Their new research paper, which was reviewed in detail by Extreme Tech examines these claims using a variety of ARM cores as well as a Loongson MIPS microprocessor, Intel’s Atom and Sandy Bridge microarchitectures, and AMD’s Bobcat.

The report suggests that ISA can matter in certain, extremely specific cases where die sizes must be 1-2mm2 or power consumption is specced to sub-milliwatt levels.  At those rare times, RISC microcontrollers can still have an advantage over their CISC brethren.

But the report suggests that those who claim RISC still has enormous benefits over x86 at higher performance levels are ignoring the fact that RISC and CISC describe design strategies and which fixed technological limitations of years ago and are not important today.

The report said that in the good old days RISC chips could run at significantly higher clocks than their CISC counterparts thanks to reduced complexity, but that’s no longer true.

Now it is process technology controls clock speed, not one’s choice of RISC vs. CISC. Today a Core i7 and Cortex-A57 have far more in common due to decades of experience have led designers to adopt strategies and structures that work, even if the underlying ISA is different.

They concluded that the RISC vs. CISC argument should be cast into the dustbin of history even if it still has some relevance in the microcontroller realm. Basically an x86 chip can be more power efficient than an ARM processor, or vice versa but it has nothing to do with the instruction set.

Intel falls into ARM’s arms

Intel-logoIn one of those strange twists of fate that dog the semiconductor industry, it appears X86 giant Intel is now one of the biggest licensees of ARM tech on the planet, now it is a foundry business. ARM, of course, offers an advantage over X86 servers in terms of both functionality and heat. Intel is considerably boosting ARM revenues, according to well informed sources close to the facts.

Actually, INTC has always had a lot of foundry business. It was forced by American authorities to guarantee that production of DEC’s Alpha microprocessor continued until the end of the decade, as we reported earlier at the INQster and the Rogister years back. Intel also had and probably still has a StrongARM licence – an opportunity Chipzilla signally missed back in the days.

It also still makes HP chips. Perhaps that is because of the peculiar nature of the partnership between Intel and HP.

Intel reacted very badly to the news.

Anna Cheng, the UK spinner for Intel, sent a snottogram to the Eyes saying that the world+dog knew it made ARM chips. She said that she objected to the fact that the Eyes blank carbon copied other people at Intel – including Chuck Mulloy – asking for clarification. She scolded the Eyes for not going through proper channels.

We responded by saying that we had in our possession many Intel “confidential” emails describing me – in no uncertain terms – as an old buffer.

ARM refused to comment, but it is quids in because of Intel’s decision to fab up the unique British designs…