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ARM: Softbank could not pinch future

via:博客园     time:2016/7/21 18:30:39     readed:2925

Earlier Softbank (Softbank) after the proposed price to acquire ARM, this looks like behind the scenes manipulation, control of more than $ 400 billion smartphone market & ldquo; & rdquo ;, black hand suddenly surfaced. However, we suddenly find that the mysterious beings, suddenly there is a variety of conjecture:

  • Some people thinkApple's chip design has been grabbed his neck Softbank, Softbank future if Apple authorized stopped, then Apple's development will be greatly affected;
  • Some analysts refer toI think apple grabbed the throat, so Apple should first ARM are only the first step;
  • Some media thinkIts contested ARM, ARM alternatives than to buy MIPS;

Why ARM in the smartphone plays such an important role? According to the company ARMIn September 2015 the InformationAnd more than 95% of smart phones using ARM processors, penetration on the plate is also more than 85%.

Briefly: ARM has monopolized the mobile chip market.

How important is the ARM processor?

This represents any one company to buy ARM, Apple will be able to grabbed the neck? Or Apple buy ARM, Samsung will be able to cause of death?

Forget it.

Why? Let's first look at the importance of ARM in the mobile phone.

ARMARM share

Fan love child with talk about over History of ARM, in fact, is & ldquo; decades of technology architecture battle & rdquo ;, the key to the dispute is & ldquo; instruction set & rdquo; (instruction set): It is the key to the processor they are able to operate, it is not less the application developers can rely on the phone based execution.

Really replace the mobile processor, the impact of how much?

If you have read "Jobs Biography" will remember Microsoft's Bill. Gates (Bill Gates) do not admire a variety of jobs, but that is the only admire from the use of the Apple Macintosh PowerPC (RISC instruction set) chip to Intel (CISC instruction set) chip issue:

If you say, well, we are going to replace the micro-processor of the chip, but can not drop a shot, it sounds impossible, but they basically did.

Ye Hao Apple, Samsung or, if you really want to switch to Intel's x86 and ARM abandoned, then the extent of impact? Fan love child in the previous& Ldquo; x86 phone's dead & rdquo;The article pointed out, the application compatibility with ARM, x86 is an important factor in the success of the phone difficult:

However, Intel is committed on a smartphone force on the occasion, in fact, been taken into account Android compatibility issues in cooperation with the Android launch optimization. They told the Inquirer that Intel's x86 chips compatible mobile phones 95% of Android applications; however, generally only a small virtual machine application, of course, no problem, but when running native applications will become very troublesome. Many developers have pointed out: when running native applications, not the developer to take the initiative to support x86, x86 to sacrifice performance is to convert code compatible, as they are the results in the development of & ldquo; & rdquo ;. perceptibly

Ye Hao, whether Apple, Samsung or, they just can not abandon ARM, but the cost is huge.

Processor is how to excel?

In these days of intensive media coverage, everyone should know: ARM is not going to produce their own processors, but directly to the ARM chip technology licensed to manufacturers directly, so that they produce their own use ARM processor instruction set. (The following figure)


In general, as long as the ARM instruction set architecture of the processor, we will call the ARM processor. But despite the use of plant ARM instruction set, but the design is a specialized processor chip technology live, so when authorizing ARM instruction set architecture, will provide technical ── processor chip that is designed processor architecture (architecture).

Then, the chip maker will put various other functions, such as image processing unit (Graphic Process Unit, GPU), memory (RAM) and a baseband chip (Baseband), etc., all packaged in the same chip, the phone would become soul: SoC (system-on-the-chips, SoC). Then handed over to the production of specialized chips and semiconductor fabs (Foundry) production. Then the quality of mobile processor chip, which is by the fab process, also known as process (Wafer Fabrication) is determined.


The entire structure is: instruction set architecture ── ── ── integration process. The ARM technology licensing concentrates on processor architecture and instruction set, is the core part of the SoC, because of the importance of ARM understood how much.

Because it is too important, so important

Since ARM has such a significant impact on mobile processor, why Apple Softbank be seated with the $ 32 billion acquisition of ARM? Why Samsung does not kill Apple to buy ARM? $ 32 billion although the absolute high price; but for the rich as Apple, hardly what it is about, and for Samsung, Apple spent 30 billion rob the hands of that huge market, but also very reasonable thing.

However, because ARM is too important, so make ARM unimportant.

To know that the Microsoft monopoly on the PC operating system market, Google search engine and controls the mobile phone operating system, you get into a tangled series of antitrust authorities. In fact, Microsoft and Google accounts for only entrance to the market, competitive opponent in a vulnerable environment; by contrast, ARM control more than 95% of the mobile phone market, its monopoly than Microsoft or Google surpasses it and, so ARM's every move, can not escape the love of States antitrust authorities.


Not to mention the ability to refuse to authorize the company to buy the phone after ARM, even if any cell phone company wants to buy ARM, may not be able to get the approval of antitrust authorities ── If the buyer is not Softbank, the sale was a success ARM problem. Plus, ARM long ago and a lot of phone companies have signed a licensing agreement, Apple Ye Hao, Ye Hao Samsung, all of a sudden not be able to stop the authorization; not to mention the intervention of antitrust authorities, even if the phone company to buy any ARM, may also need commitment to open license agreement.

However, even though the buyer can not be authorized to suppress opponents through denial, but ARM technology still valuable, right?

ARM's influence, did not you imagine the deadly

Just when the rise of smart phones, ARM has been firmly in control refers to the smartphone chip instruction set and architecture. In 2009, Apple introduced the iPhone 3Gs, for example, he used the system-on-chip for the Samsung S5PC100, in addition to using ARM instruction set addition, also used the ARM design (or so-called & ldquo; public version of & rdquo;) of Cortex -A8 (ARMv7 architecture).

But in 2010, mobile processors began to appear significant changes: Apple and Qualcomm (Qualcomm) have abandoned the inherent architecture of ARM processor architecture to design their own. In the debut of the first generation iPad Apple A4 (Hummingbird), as well as the first generation of Google Nexus used Qualcomm Xiaolong (Scorpion) QSD8250, are not the public version of the ARM architecture. Although, when Apple and Qualcomm ARM basically take the public version of the minor changes made by the ARM technology is still a great impact on nature.

iPhoneiPhone 5s benchmark

But in 2013, Samsung and Apple again to the ARM architecture well plate were two bomb dropped. First Samsung Mid-2013 announced, Next-generation processors will use its own schema. Apple in September the same year the iPhone 5s launch, suddenly launched the world's first 64-bit ARM processor Apple A7 (Cyclone) ── chip company was not able to catch and production of the public version of 64 yuan Cortex- A57, but is designed to use its own Apple, yet peer throw an era.

Until 2016, Samsung launched Exynos 8 Octa 8890, started with the independent processor architecture, but after a failed Qualcomm Xiaolong 810, a new generation of Snapdragon 820 also return to the autonomous structure. The results of the three overseas mobile processor manufacturers: Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung, at the same time abandon the ARM architecture; currently left with Huawei Hass, with the core Datang, violet Spreadtrum and MediaTek of Taiwan, still left on the public version of the ARM architecture.

ARM technology, as though a great influence, but we have not imagined fatal.

Mobile phones market, intelligent threat

Other than mobile phones on the battlefield and how? according toInformation previously mentionedThere are currently more than 95% of the car infotainment system (Infotainment), more than 60% of the wireless router, more than 55% of consumer electronics (Consumer Electronics), are using ARM processors. Visible, networking and intelligent cars, will be the key to the future ARM market.

ARMARM share 2

In the current project two popular consumer electronics market: VR and UAVs is, ARM has also long been in the layout,Analysts have long expressed ARM Mali graphics processing unit of its own, in the VR market will be an important rival AMD and Nvidia; and STMicroelectronics (STMicroelectronics) of its STM32 processor, almost the majority of UAV standard.

However, ARM mainstream position in the market outside of the phone, not because ARM is very strong or very low power consumption, but & hellip; & hellip; because it is cheaper. When consumer electronics products did not enter yet intelligent generation, they do not require high computing power, just want a low-cost embedded processor as the main chip.

But intelligent generations, the situation is completely different: STM32 can cope with UAV flight control algorithm, but enter the smart UAV generations to follow to deal with visual, binocular visual obstacle avoidance computer needs this cheap ARM processor becomes inadequate.

Become masters Chip

Therefore, a new generation of UAVs Dajiang Phantom 4, using the STM32 chip except for the master, as an extra added to the FPGA visual computing hardware. The Nvidia also display at CES Car ComputerNvidia Drive PX 2Using its powerful image processing capabilities to handle the needs of driverless cars, the 12-core ARM processor, but is a supporting role.

In fact, things Ye Hao, Ye Hao car networking, VR or, UAVs or, these new smart phone hardware due to a large volume of far more, the battery capacity is greater, and some do not have to worry about endurance, and its development the key has been the master of low-cost chip, the sensor becomes efficient and rapid response networks.


To Intel, for example, they Realsense 5G network technology and computer vision, intelligent hardware market quickly to advance.Fan love child previously reportedIntel China president and vice president of global Yang Xu expressed: & ldquo; What do Intel? We are taking your digital platform. & Rdquo;

Even still using ARM instruction set of Qualcomm's custom feigongban architecture: Xiaolong 801 (UAV platform) and Xiaolong 602A (chariotest platform) are integrated in the SoC in a large number of sensor technology.

Although the future will be a lot of things may still use the ARM processor, but the sensor, as well as independent computing unit for the sensor, and its influence may have exceeded ARM processor.

Softbank could not pinch future

ARM sell $ 32 billion, instead of $ 400 billion; Apple, Samsung does not like a madman and Softbank buying ARM── It is not without reason.

ARM is still very bright future,Fan love child has pointed out previously: They Q1 2016 earnings exceeded market expectations, profit rose 14% to $ 198 million, on its main chip license revenue grew 24%, according to IDC statistics show that, over the same period smartphone shipments grew only 0.2% , showing that they are still & ldquo; & rdquo ;. Unlimited Money

But if the Japanese group through mergers and acquisitions, the scientific community can be grabbed in the future, it would be too despise the Silicon Valley elite.

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