Sunday, October 5, 2008

ARM Targets Mobile Internet Devices with New Platforms

Despite of lackluster welcome by the market, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) are projected to become relatively popular going forward, which is why companies like Intel Corp. are actively developing Atom microprocessors and platforms for such products. But this does not mean that traditional players on the market of mobile electronics are standing still: ARM Holdings also expects its micro-architecture to power MIDs next year.

“We have also launched our high performance, low power consumption Cortex-A8 and A9 platforms for MID (Mobile Internet Device) products. We have strong confidence in the MID market and look forward to seeing ARM-based MID products hit the market in 2009,” said Warren East, chief executive officer of ARM, in an interview with DigiTimes web-site.

In fact, Texas Instruments OMAP (Open Multimedia Application Platform) microprocessors with ARM architecture and PowerVR graphics cores already power Nokia’s N770, N800 and N810 Internet tablets, which can easily be considered as mobile Internet devices. In addition, ARM chips are used inside Apple iPhone as well as plethora of smartphones. Meanwhile, there are no commercially available MIDs based on Intel Atom at the moment.

Nevertheless, it is projected that going forward Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices and Via Technologies will be able to push x86 micro-architecture not only into MIDs, but also inside handsets, which is a reason to worry for ARM.

But there are reasons to worry for x86 CPU makers too. Currently ARM powers about 98% of mobile phones sold worldwide, however, with the trend towards low-power computers and consumer electronics, ARM microprocessors can compete against Intel’s x86 chips on their territory, said chief exec of ARM Holdings, an IP company, earlier this year.

According to market research firm ABI Research, the number of ultra-mobile PCs, netbooks and mobile Internet devices, are expected to exceed 200 million units in 2013, while revenues are projected to achieve $27 billion. The unit share of MIDs among shipments of those ultra-mobile Internet devices is projected to be 68%.

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