Microsoft Licenses ARM Chip Technology, Could Lead To New Microprocessors

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News Posted: Sat, Jul 24 2010 3:43 PM
If you're just a casual bystander to the technology world, this holy union may not mean much to you. But for insiders and enthusiasts, this a huge announcement. ARM is responsible for a huge amount of chips used in mobile devices. From smartphones to MIDs to UMPCs to smartbooks, there's a great chance that an ARM chip is powering something within. The company has made a fortune off of their ability to create low-power, inexpensive processors for mobile devices, and few other companies have bothered to compete.

ARM isn't a very sexy name. You rarely hear of their involvement. But if you use a portable device, there's a good chance you use an ARM chip. Apple's new A4 chip is one of the best examples of how powerful ARM is. Recently, Apple was granted the ability to create their own ARM-based chips, and the result was the A4. In the iPad, we found it to be one of the most powerful chips in any portable device, and it really raised the bar in terms of speed expectations. Only a few companies have this great ability, with Qualcomm, Marvell and Infineon amongst the few. Now, Microsoft is joining that group.

The two companies are keeping the details under wraps, but there's no doubt that the ramifications here could be significant. If Microsoft begins to create their own ARM-based microprocessors, the sky really is the limit. Could Microsoft create their own Windows Phone 7 device? Surely. Could they create their own Windows-based slate PC? Yes. And that's just the start of it. We'll be keeping a close eye on Microsoft over the coming months and years, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the software giant enter into the chip business in a big way. Intel and Apple could certainly use the competition.

Microsoft Licenses ARM Architecture

ARM and Microsoft continue relationship with closer access to ARM IP

CAMBRIDGE, UK – July 23, 2010 – ARM and Microsoft Corp. today announced that they have signed a new licensing agreement for the ARM® architecture. The agreement extends the collaborative relationship between the two companies. Since 1997 Microsoft and ARM have worked together on software and devices across the embedded, consumer and mobile spaces, enabling many companies to deliver user experiences on a broad portfolio of ARM-based products.

“Microsoft is an important member of the ARM ecosystem, and has been for many years,” said Mike Muller, CTO ARM. “With this architecture license, Microsoft will be at the forefront of applying and working with ARM technology in concert with a broad range of businesses addressing multiple application areas.”

“ARM is an important partner for Microsoft and we deliver multiple operating systems on the company’s architecture, most notably Windows Embedded and Windows Phone,” said KD Hallman, general manager, Microsoft. “With closer access to the ARM technology we will be able to enhance our research and development activities for ARM-based products.”

ARM licenses processor IP under a flexible licensing model, enabling highly integrated solutions for a variety of applications ranging from mobile devices to home electronics and industrial products. ARM customers can license the ARM architecture or specific processor implementations.

 Details of the agreement will remain confidential.

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acarzt replied on Sat, Jul 24 2010 6:11 PM

I think the primary intention of this was so MS can make their own hardware for their new WP7 os.

But I can see this leading to a whole slew of other products.

Very curious to see what direction this goes.

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Jul 24 2010 10:09 PM

I'm happy for ARM, but I don't foresee MS doing anything too radical with this.

They'll probably put out a platform that only accepts developer apps compiled as .Net IL. Otherwise, they might accidentally encourage developers to create cross-architecture/platform code.

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M-ManLA replied on Mon, Jul 26 2010 1:38 AM

I don't see ARM competing with Intel in the Desktop area, or notebook for that case. But Phones and Tablets/Slates can be a different story.

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acarzt replied on Mon, Jul 26 2010 6:51 AM

Arm has been competing in the phone market for quite some time.

I think microsoft is just trying to piggy-back off that experience and attempt to add their own touch too it... which isn't always a good thing.

Time will tell.

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AKwyn replied on Tue, Jul 27 2010 3:50 PM

I feel the same way acarzt, I feel like Microsoft is more of a software company then a hardware company. I mean they tried their best with their keyboards and mouses (excluding the SideWinder) but I just don't think they were cut for the job (save for a few innovative items).


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acarzt replied on Tue, Jul 27 2010 6:44 PM

Well, they did a pretty good job with the Xbox(except for a few, lol, RRODs)

And I like their keyboards and mice. And the 360 Controller is the best controller!

They also make good webcams.

The Zune has some great hardware in it too. It's just not as popular as the iPod.

They might be able to pull off a good cell phone. I'd like to see what they come up with.

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