ARM VP: Partners Are Essential To Our Success

We met with an exhausted but very happy Ian Drew earlier today; the executive vice president of Marketing at ARM came from an earlier event, where he witnessed first hand how rapidly the British company had transitioned from being a little-known brand outside the tech market to one which is currently bathing in the limelight of success.

That event was the Microsoft Partners Preview meetup at Computex in Taipei. One of the highlights of the presentation was when Mike Angulo, Corporate VP of Windows Planning Hardware & PC Ecosystems at Microsoft, pulled out an ultra thin laptop running on an ARM-based quad-core Kal-el system on chip from Nvidia, followed by a tablet running of the same chip, just six months after its dual core little brother was launched at CES.

ARM's current level of success, Drew pointed out, can be attributed to the commitment and investment of its galaxy of partners, more than 220 of them, both in hardware and in software.

He reminded us that all but one of the world's biggest semiconductor manufacturers are ARM licensees with Microchip (rather than Intel) being the odd one out.

He was also bullish about ARM's chances when pitted against Intel, his former employer. He said, "If you had done a poll three years ago about whether ARM would have succeeded against Intel, probably more than 90 per cent would have backed Intel but that's no longer the case."

Manufacturers at Computex for example, have voted massively for ARM by delivering a glut of tablets based around its partners' hardware solutions. Intel, on the other hand, only achieved limited success even with tier-one manufacturers like Asus, Gigabyte and MSI.

Drew added that ARM is particularly keen to crack the server market. Datacenters, he noted, consume an inordinate amount of electricity for the jobs they do, and ARM partners are working hard to deliver products to slash that consumption.

On the next generation Cortex A15, he added that the first SoC based on the architecture would be sampled towards the end of the year (ed : TI and ST-Ericsson have confirmed that) with actual products being shipped in the second half of 2011.

On the red hot subject of Heterogeneous computing, Drew strenuously denied that there will be any strategic partnership between ARM and AMD and that Jem Davies, ARM Fellow, VP of Technology, Media Processing Division at ARM, would only speak about graphics at AMD's forthcoming Fusion Developer Summit in two weeks time (ed : more about Mr Davies' keynote here).

Towards the close of our catchup, Ian paid tribute to the vibrant computer manufacturer community in Taipei saying that, like ARM, they believe in a single continuum of products rather than siloed product categories. This is what, he added, makes Taiwan and Computex such an interesting technological hub.