ARM has been ruling the roost where mobile technology is concerned. The mobile chipmaker has grown stronger over the years, owing to the boost in the sales and shipments of smartphones and tablets. ARM works with various partners in India and the Indian arms of global companies too. In fact, its second biggest design centre is located in India. We spoke to Guru Ganesan, Managing Director, ARM India to find out about the design centre and the company's plans for the India market. He tells us about the contribution of ARM India Center, increasing adoption of connected devices, new mobile developments at ARM and more.
What kind of work is done at the ARM India Center?
ARM India is the company’s second biggest design center in the world after Cambridge. Key activities for our Indian team include Physical IP for all the fabs across all nodes, Processor Architecture Validation, Device Validation, System Level Validation, System IP Development, Benchmarking and Device Driver Development.
How ARM's India Design Centre contributes to new technologies?
We work with multiple India partners and Indian arms of global companies. However, our focus for India is more on enabling our global operations and R&D and not so much as sales growth in the country.
How big is the team at the ARM India Center?
ARM India is an important facility for ARM with over 350 personnel focusing on important areas of the business for ARM that includes processor core development, software development and our Physical IP business. These are all areas of technology where new frontiers are constantly being pushed. ARM India staff are part of that journey.
What is ARM's strategy to stay ahead of the competition?
We will continue to do more of what we already do. Our mantra has been to continuously innovate and deliver business value to our customers and the larger ecosystem. ARM’s business model is based on licensing the core technology to different partners, allowing them to differentiate and add value. In today’s world of more devices with computing and connectivity trying to share data on a variety of networks, we believe we are in the right place at the right time.
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What are the next major developments in the mobile computing space?
The world has become increasingly mobile. Consumers today want convenience; they want seamless connectivity and access, anywhere and all the time. A focus on constantly improving user experience will continue to drive the next era of mobile computing. From a technology investment standpoint, a focus on efficient low power designs will continue to be key. We strongly believe our big.LITTLE design will be a game-changer. ARM big.LITTLE processing is an energy saving technology where the highest performance ARM CPUs are combined with the most efficient ARM CPUs and allows the system’s software to seamlessly and dynamically switch between the two, depending on energy requirements. For instance, a big ARM Cortex-A15 processor is paired with a LITTLE Cortex-A7 processor and this combination has improved battery life by 70 per cent. One of our partners, MediaTek recently introduced a new quad-core, ARM-based System-on-a-Chip (SoC) for tablets featuring ARM's big.LITTLE processing subsystem for heterogeneous multi-processing.
Can you give us an insight of some of the new designs that ARM's working on?
ARM launched the new Cortex A-12 processor optimised for smartphones in June this year. The new processor would deliver 40 percent more performance than its predecessor, the Cortex A-9, using a similar amount of energy. We expect devices using Cortex A-12s to hit the market by mid-2014.
What about ARM-based PC market. Not much growth here?
We have always focused on high-performance but energy efficient designs and will continue to collaborate with our partners to find the best solution for them and their customers. We are confident in our IP technology and also in our business model. The ARM ecosystem is extremely dynamic and enables tremendous differentiation and competition across all technology.
How do you envision the future of personal computing? Do you believe we are nearing the end of the desktop era?
The latest Gartner report states that global shipments of PCs slumped 10.9 percent in the second quarter, the fifth straight quarterly decline. And according to IDC, global shipments of smart connected devices (PCs, tablets, and smartphones) are expected to surpass 1.7 billion units by 2014 with smartphones and tablets driving most of this growth. It is safe to say that these devices have successfully established themselves as a strong second screen but it is still too early to write off the PC completely. Workplaces continue to use PCs. We are definitely not in a post-PC era, but with growing workplace and mobile trends such as ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) and the increasing adoption of connected devices, the PC era is fast winding up. The next generation of computing is coming and ARM-based technology is playing a central role in this evolution.
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What is ARM’s role in the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things describes a world in which actual ‘things’ such as devices, data and locations are all interconnected with applications and users over the internet. It is set to transform how people and systems control, interact with and experience the world around them, sparking new products, services and job opportunities. From mobile devices to tiny microprocessors in sensors, to networking and mobile infrastructure, to servers and it’s an extremely exciting new market that has been predicted to grow to 30 billion devices by 2020.
ARM’s business model is based on licensing the core technology to different partners, allowing them to differentiate and add value. Multiple suppliers for each form factor ensure competition, competition spurs innovation and differentiation, which exemplifies the fact that diversity is what the Internet of Things (IoT) is all about. Besides the ability to address different markets, to explore new ones, and the ability to scale from small to large, the ecosystem for the IoT will have to be more diverse than we have for the mobile Internet today. Enabling ecosystems that drive innovation is a critical part of what ARM does with its partnership-based business model.ARM has just announced the acquisition of Sensinode Oy, a Finland-based startup that develops internet-of-things software. ARM is dedicated to enabling a standards-based IoT where billions of devices of all types and capabilities are connected through interoperable Internet Protocols and Web Services.
Beyond the usual smartphones and tablets, where are we likely to see ARM-based devices in our daily lives?
ARM technology is in use in approximately 95% of smartphones, 80% of digital cameras, and 35% of all electronic devices. From Blu-rays and DVDs to digital Set Top Boxes (STB); from digital TVs to gaming devices; from Flash cards to smart cards - we are constantly touching and improving human lives.