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ARM: Intel has tough road into mobile market

Sharon Gaudin, Computerworld | May 20, 2011
Intel may have made a big splash this week announcing it's going to focus on the mobile market, but its rival in the space says the chip maker has an uphill climb ahead of it.

Unlike Intel, which designs and manufacturers its own chips, ARM Limited licenses the ARM chip architecture to manufacturers. Many different vendors, including Apple, Samsung and Qualcomm, make ARM chips.

Instead of one company, it's a community.

And while analysts say there can be some bickering and sniping inside that ARM community, Bruce said there's a big advantage in having a broad ecosystem.

"The key thing to keep in mind is that the mobile market is not a monolithic market with one solution fits all," he said. "ARM's partners are delivering many different chips at many different price points and capabilities that allow the ARM ecosystem to address the entire mobile market...."

He also said he doesn't see how Intel can handle the entire smartphone market from a $70 price point to a $500 price point.

"This is a complex market," Bruce added. "This market isn't about selling processors, but about selling almost a complete mobile phone on one chip - graphics, processor, video and the 3G or 4G modem. It's not going to be easy for Intel to come in to this market."

If the competition between the ARM ecosystem and Intel seems heated now, it's only go to grow more so as ARM Limited looks to move into the PC and server space.

Bruce noted that Nvidia already has licensed the ARM architecture for PC chips, and he expects to see ARM chips moving into the server market in the next three years.

 

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