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ARM CEO Warren East.  (Source: ARM)
ARM's Race: Deal with Microsoft to power next-gen PCs will continue to propel chip designer.

After beating year-end profit forecasts, thanks in part to iPhone and iPad sales, shares of ARM Holdings hit a 10-year high yesterday, The Telegraph reports.

ARM, chip designer for most of the world's mobile devices, has been at the center of take-over speculation. This speculation helped the company's shares close at 547 1/2p, the highest since the dotcom bubble 10 years ago, according to The Telegraph.

"It's hard to see what could have been better in this set of results. We've had a record in terms of earnings, and a record backlog up 75 percent [compared with last year]," ARM CEO Warren East told The Telegraph. "We are exposed to areas of strong structural growth. Just about everything is being connected to the internet, all of these are opportunities for ARM technology." 

ARM reported a 73-percent increase in pre-tax profits to £167.4 million in 2010. Year-end revenue was up 33 percent, to £406.6 million.

The company is poised for continued success. At CES last month, ARM announced a partnership with Microsoft to power the next generation of Windows PCs -- traditionally Intel territory. Many took the partnership as a sign that Microsoft felt Intel couldn't compete against ARM's power-savvy architecture. Intel countered, claiming that because it would take Microsoft so long to ready its next OS, Intel would have designs ready by then that could take on ARM.  

"Windows will always run best on Intel," an Intel spokesman was quoted saying. "Porting Windows to a new architecture, where chips are generally incompatible with each other and require sizable investment in millions of other software code, applications and middleware will be complex and costly."

As East admitted, ARM would not begin to profit from the Microsoft deal for at least four years, because the new products have to be designed and built. "Clearly the Microsoft announcement is a massive deal," East told The Telegraph. "It's all a question of when [ARM will begin to power desktop computers]. I don't expect a massive share in PCs in the short term but I certainly do from tablets."

While some analysts predict that ARM could one day power half of the world's PCs, the company's true threat to Intel -- especially in the present tense -- remains modest.

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Simple really
By Ammohunt on 2/2/2011 1:52:46 PM , Rating: 2
Its really not a bad gamble the fact is cisc is very long in the tooth and a new viable processor architecture is way past due. Seamless software integration between smart phones, tablets and PC’s would be wonderful.

RE: Simple really
By 91TTZ on 2/2/2011 2:13:38 PM , Rating: 3
Modern CISC processors are only CISC externally. Internally they're RISC.

It's been this way since the AMD K5 as far as I know, there may have been an earlier chip that did it (NexGen?)

RE: Simple really
By Ammohunt on 2/2/2011 5:24:48 PM , Rating: 2
I understand you still have the overhead of converting back and forth.

RE: Simple really
By kenyee on 2/2/2011 6:35:09 PM , Rating: 2
commands are decomposed in the pipeline. All the logic to decompose this stuff is a bit complicated so that makes the die larger than an arm core though, but the rest of it is simpler because the decomposed instructions are simpler to handle in hardware.

I worked for NexGen for a while way back before AMD bought it...the die at the time was smaller than the Intel equivalent..

RE: Simple really
By Laereom on 2/2/2011 9:16:03 PM , Rating: 3
Well, there's not 'back and forth', really, it's one way.
For context, it takes up less than 1% of the die area of even the smallest x86 chips.

Furthermore, it's all done in the, effectively, it delays instructions by 1 or 2 clock cycles (ie, a few nanoseconds) but doesn't at all reduce the rate at which they are processed (which is much more important).

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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