If history repeats itself, UK-based ARM Holdings is hoping that the rise of the tablets will help grow its business substantially and catapult them to the mobile PC market dominance by 2015. MacWorld UK quoted their president Tudor Brown who said during a presser at the Computex trade show in Taipei:
Today we have about 10 percent market share [in mobile PCs]. By the end of 2011 we believe we will have about 15 percent of that market share as tablets grow. By 2015, we expect that to be over 50 percent of the mobile PC market.
The quote is interesting because we’ve learned for the first time about ARM’s market share in the greater mobile PC market, which is comprised of tablets, netbooks and other mobile PCs. Even though ARM’s tablet market share is much higher (their CPU designs power Apple’s iPad as well as Motorola’s Xoom and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab), it drops when you add Intel-powered netbooks and other mobile PCs into the picture. Intel, which has so far failed to woe handset makers, is expected to announce a new smartphone chip later this week code-named Medfield. Meanwhile, new chips based on ARM’s Cortex A15 architecture, pictured above, will arrive by next year. In order to rival Intel – which has high hopes for its latest tri-gate transistor technology – ARM has partnered with IBM for a 14 nanometer production process.
The rumors has it that Apple is prototyping an ARM-based MacBook Air. Apple isn’t alone as Microsoft confirmed that Windows 8 will run, for the first time ever, on both Intel’s x86 and ARM architectures. Nvidia even wants to build desktop processors that will marry its graphics cores to ARM’s CPU designs. No wonder Intel is cozying up to Apple lately, saying it would love to help design and manufacture future iPhone processors.
ARM is a fabless semiconductor company whose mobile CPU designs are hugely popular in mobile devices where low-power requirements and performance are paramount. They license silicon blueprints to chip makers such as Texas Instruments, Samsung and Nvidia who incorporate them into end solutions that typically combine the CPU cores, the graphics unit, RAM, the memory controller and other neccessary components on a single piece of silicon, the so-called system-on-a-chip (SoC). ARM’s Cortex-branded CPU designs have proved a big hit with handset vendors and are found in the vast majority of smartphones today.