Arm Holdings primary business is designing Arm processors (CPUs). They also design other chips, software development tools under the DS-5, RealView and Keil brands, systems and platforms, system-on-a-chip (SoC) infrastructure and software. With a broad portfolio of solutions, the company is offering various solutions for different segments, and its prominence in the industry is growing in leaps and bounds. Read further to learn about the world’s most successful chip architecture design and its growing relevance in the hardware industry. With more than 160 billion chips made for various devices based on designs from Arm, the company dominates the market for processors in mobile phones (smartphones or otherwise), tablet computers and chips in smart TVs.
Index of contents
- What is RISC?
- Arm big.LITTLE
- Arm Foundry
- Final words
Arm Holdings was founded in 1981 in Cambridge, UK and was initially named Acorn Computers and specialized in a Motorola 6502 based microcomputer used in Commodore 64 and Apple II, among others. Later, when the company was officially incorporated in 1990, the acronym was changed to Advanced RISC Machines, and the company logo is now “arm“, all in lowercase.
What is RISC?
RISC is the acronym for Reduced Instruction Set Computer. This type of microprocessor architecture uses a small set of instructions of uniform length. These chips are simple to design and inexpensive, and perform simple operations. In addition, instructions take up less space in the logic blocks, allowing the operating frequencies to be higher. Basically, instructions tell the processors what to do with the data input they receive.
On the downside, RISC processors are less powerful than CISC (Complex Instructions Set Computer) processors by Intel and AMD CPUs when there is a need for mathematical capabilities in simulations, video and signal processing. Another disadvantage is the program size, which is bigger than CISC, as the RISC instructions require more lines.
These disadvantages are taken care of in the Arm big.LITTLE architecture. Read further to get to know the revolutionary architecture by arm, storming the smartphone segment.
Arm’s big.LITTLE is a heterogeneous architecture that combines the functions of both RISC and CISC processors by combining the low-power cores with power cores. Low power cores, also called “LITTLE”, stay active all the time and handle the low load, while power cores called “big” are activated only when high computing power is needed.
The most important advantage of this architecture is energy-saving, which is critical in smart gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, and others. Other than this, the benefits of this architecture are low heat generation during workloads and space-saving.
Arm Holdings as a company does not produce any chips but licenses its processor designs to third party manufacturers allowing them to modify them to their needs. However, they agree between themselves and several foundries for chip production, which enables the foundries to have multiple chip products available.
Currently, Arm Holdings is expanding into other segments such as Datacenters, servers, automotive and desktops, working on the development of chips for these areas. It is closely working with Apple to develop Apple’s own processors for its laptop and desktops. The company is also in talks for being taken over by technology giant NVIDIA for 40billion dollars.