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June - 2008 - issue > In Conversation
Excitement in the Embedded space
Priya Pradeep
Saturday, May 31, 2008
NASDAQ:ARMH Founded:1990 Headquarters: Cambridge, England, U.K.
Revenues: $514.3 million in 2007
Worldwide Headcount:1707

ARM Holdings is a provider of semiconductor intellectual property (IP). It is at the heart of the development of digital electronic products from wireless, networking and consumer entertainment solutions to imaging, automotive, security and storage devices. Of the 13 billion microprocessor-based chips shipped in 2007, nearly three billion contained ARM processors.

1. ARM seems to be at the nexus of a disruption in semiconductors. How does ARM view itself in today’s world?

Mass production of the chips with new technology means the cost of the product gets lowered. This has given an enormous fillip to the growth of the consumer and home electronic appliance market, which use embedded technology. The result is a boosting of the bottom line of third party companies like ours, as demand for semiconductor IP increases.

2. What is your take on the future of mobile computing? Processor players like AMD and Intel want to get into that game. What then happens to IP companies going forward?

ARM has considerable advantage in the space it operates though competitors are raising their heads now. Our business model is different and set to take on challenges. There are 200 semiconductor companies worldwide and 20 operate exclusively in the fast growing mobile space. Hence there is immense opportunity for all IP players.
3. How strategic is India for you in terms of the market? What are some unique characteristics of this market that intrigues you?
India is too huge a market for us to ignore and it is similar to other markets—more specifically the emerging markets that presents an opportunity for ARM to expand. The domestic population is growing in numbers and wealth. The greater disposable incomes mean the populace would buy more electronic products to up their lifestyle. And these products are mostly embedded with the ARM silicon signature in them.

4. How is the envelope of work within the Bangalore Design center going to increase?
ARM has been in Bangalore from August 2004. At present the team here is 350 strong and work is being done on Graphic Processors; and making processors, which consume lower power than existing models. Incidentally ARM’s hallmark over competition is its low powered processors.

Currently the India team is also involved in simulation silicon. Earlier such processes would take six months to get the silicon in shape. Now with the $1 million investment in the Bangalore VLSI test lab, opened recently, the timeline has been reduced to just six weeks. The new lab will focus on silicon validation of ARM physical IP on which 160 engineers are working.
5. What’s one technology trend that you would like to see take off next year or within the next few years?
Happening gadgets like Smart Phones would deliver good scope for growth to us in the future. The face of silicon in the future, which I envision, is the presence of multiple companies on a single chip of silicon.
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