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ARM Working With Microsoft On "Processor Architectures"

The chairman and director of ARM Taiwan Limited, Philip Lu, has confirmed that the UK-based chip designer is collaborating with Microsoft to develop "processor architectures", a combination of two words that mean different things to different parties.

The report, which originated from a press conference in Taipei on March 22, came from Digitimes (opens in new tab), another news article by Channel News (opens in new tab) in Australia, says that the cooperation between the two parties also extends to "new hardware projects".

Xbitlabs (opens in new tab) argues that the two might work towards tailoring ARM chip designs for Windows 8, the Microsoft equivalent of Linaro, the not-for-profit organisation which works on "Linux-based open source software and tools" optimised for the ARM architecture and was launched last June.

Microsoft became an ARM licensee back in July 2010 and the agreement extends to ARM's full instruction set (including the architecture schematics) which means that, like Marvell and Qualcomm, Microsoft has the freedom to do pretty much what it wants with ARM's IP, including building its own system on chip.

Doing so would allow Microsoft to have absolute control over design, not unlike what Apple is doing with the A5 SoC which is based on the Cortex A9 but has some secret ingredients added to it.

Launching an ARM SoC would also allow Microsoft to spread risks associated with sticking to one platform only (x86in this case) and embrace by far the fastest growing architecture family.

During the same press conference, ARM confirmed that the Cortex A15 architecture has been licensed to a number of chip designers and vendors; Samsung Electronics, Texas Instruments, ST-Ericsson and Nvidia. Broadcom and Fujitsu have also been signed comprehensive license agreement with ARM over the A15 in February 2011.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.