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The world’s largest design IP supplier: ARM Holdings (ARMH)-delisting (1990)

ARM Holdings plc (or: ARM company, ARM holdings) ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMH, LSE: ARM) was founded in 1990, formerly known as Advanced RISC Machines Holdings Limited, and changed to its current name in March 1998. Headquarters Located in Cambridge, England, with 4064 full-time employees, it is the world’s largest design IP (intellectual property) supplier, and its main business is RISC microprocessors.

Update: On September 5, 2016, Softbank completed a $31 billion acquisition of Amou Holdings, and the latter’s stock was delisted.

ARM Holdings Logo

ARM Holdings (ARMH):

ARM is an intellectual property (IP) supplier, specializing in the design and development of chips based on RISC technology. As an intellectual property supplier, it does not directly engage in chip production. The cooperative company produces unique chips by transferring design licenses. Large semiconductor manufacturers buy their designed ARM microprocessor cores from ARM, and add appropriate peripheral circuits according to their different application fields, thereby forming their own ARM microprocessor chips to enter the market.

ARM has used this win-win partnership to quickly become the creator of the global RISC microprocessor standard. This mode also brings huge benefits to users, because users only master one ARM core structure and its development methods, and can use the same ARM core chips from multiple companies.

At present, more than 100 companies have signed technology license agreements with ARM, including large companies such as Intel , IBM , LG, NEC , SONY , NXP and NS. As for the partners of the software system, they include a series of well-known companies such as Microsoft , Sun Sun and MRI.

ARM is a joint venture of Apple , Acorn, VLSI, Technology and other companies. ARM licenses its technology to many famous semiconductor, software and OEM manufacturers in the world, and each manufacturer gets a unique set of ARM-related technologies and services. Using this partnership, ARM quickly became the creator of many global RISC standards. At present, a total of 30 semiconductor companies have signed hardware technology license agreements with ARM, including Atmel , Broadcom , Cirrus Logic , Freescale ( independent from Motorola in 2004 ), Qualcomm , Fujitsu , Intel (through the mediation of complaints with Digital) ), IBM, Infineon Technologies , Nintendo , NXP Semiconductors ( independent from Philips in 2006 ), OKI Electrical Industries, Samsung Electronics , Sharp , STMicroelectronics , Texas Instruments and VLSI and many of these companies have various forms of ARM Authorization. A single customer product containing a basic ARM core may require a license fee of up to US$200,000.

ARM Holdings (ARMH) brands under ARM Holdings (ARMH):

ARM itself does not rely on its own design to manufacture or sell CPUs, but licenses the processor architecture to interested manufacturers. ARM provides a variety of licensing terms, including items such as price and dissemination. For the licensor, ARM provides an integrated hardware description of the ARM core, including complete software development tools (compiler, debugger, SDK), and the right to sell silicon chips containing ARM CPUs. For fabless licensors, they hope to integrate the ARM core into their self-developed chip design, usually only for obtaining a production-ready intellectual property core technology (IP Core) certification. For these customers, ARM will release the gate circuit diagram of the selected ARM core, together with abstract simulation models and test programs to assist in design integration and verification. Customers who demand more, including integrated component manufacturers (IDM) and wafer manufacturers, choose a synthesizable RTL (register transfer level, such as Verilog) form to obtain the intellectual property (IP) of the processor. With the help of integrable RTL, customers have the ability to optimize and strengthen the architecture. This method allows the designer to complete additional design goals (such as high oscillation frequency, low energy consumption, instruction set extension, etc.) without being limited by circuit diagrams that cannot be changed. Although ARM does not grant the authorized party to resell the ARM architecture itself, the authorized party can sell products (such as chip components, evaluation boards, complete systems, etc.) at will. Commercial fabs are a special example, because they not only grant the ability to sell finished silicon wafers containing ARM cores, but for other customers, they usually also reserve the right to remake ARM cores. Like most IP vendors, ARM determines the price of IP based on the value of use.

In terms of architecture, lower performance ARM cores have lower licensing fees than higher performance cores. In terms of silicon chip implementation, an integrated core is more expensive than a hardware macro (black box) core. In terms of more complex price issues, commercial fabs that hold ARM authorizations (such as South Korea’s Samsung and Japan’s Fujitsu) can provide lower authorized prices to their fab customers. Through the fab’s own design technology, customers can obtain ARM cores with lower or free ARM prepaid licensing fees. Compared with specialized semiconductor fabs that do not have its own design technology (such as TSMC and UMC), Fujitsu/Samsung charges two to three times more for each wafer. For small and medium-sized applications, fabs with design departments provide lower overall prices (subsidized by licensing fees). For mass production, due to long-term cost reduction, lower wafer prices can be used to reduce ARM’s NRE costs, making specialized wafer fabs a better choice.

ARM Holdings (ARMH) History:

  • ARM’s predecessor was Icon Computer, which was founded in Cambridge, England in 1978.
  • In the late 1980s, Apple Computer began to cooperate with Icon Computer to develop a new version of the ARM core.
  • In 1985, Acorn Computer developed a new processor with reduced instruction set, named ARM (Acorn RISC Machine), also known as ARM 1.
  • On November 27, 1990, it received funding from Apple and VLSI Technology to split ARM and become an independent subsidiary engaged in the development of low-cost, low-power, high-performance chips.
  • In 1991, ARM licensed its products to the British GEC Plessey Semiconductor Company.
  • In 1993, ARM licensed its products to Cirrus Logic and Texas Instruments. At that time, TI had already made high achievements in the DSP field, but was not familiar with the CPU field. ARM cooperated with Nokia and TI to develop a 16-bit Thumb instruction set, creating an ARM/Thumb SoC business model.
  • In 1995, DEC began to develop StrongARM.
  • On February 5, 1996, DEC officially released the SA110 processor. In the same year, Olivetti, which suffered a financial crisis, sold 14.7% of its Acorn shares to Lehman Brothers .
  • The ARM8 core was released in 1996, and the performance was doubled, but it was unable to compete with StrongARM.
  • In 1997, DEC released the second StrongARM chip, SA1100. Intel acquired DEC’s Hudson factory, and Intel named StrongARM XScale.
  • ARM9 was released in 1997. ARM9 no longer uses the Princeton structure, but switched to the Harvard structure. The original 3-level instruction pipeline was increased to 5-level, and the highest clock frequency reached 220MHz.
  • The ARM10 core was officially launched in 1998, using a 6-stage pipeline structure, improving Cache Memory, optimizing multiplication instructions, and adding floating-point operations, but due to XScale, ARM10 did not achieve great success. XScale processor The maximum operating frequency of Intel has reached 1.25GHz. Intel sold its XScale processor business to Marvell due to a huge loss.
  • On April 17, 1998, ARM was listed on the London Stock Exchange in the UK and Nasdaq in the US. In the early days, Apple invested $3 million and owned 43% of ARM’s shares . In 1998, after ARM was listed in the UK and the US, Apple gradually sold these shares.
  • By the end of 2007, the total shipment of ARM core chips had exceeded 10 billion.
  • In mid-June 2010, Apple expressed its intention to acquire ARM for US$8 billion, but was rejected.
  • On December 13, 2013, ARM announced the acquisition of Geomerics, a well-known light engine technology company. Geomerics has very leading technology in the field of light and shadow computing. The acquisition will expand ARM’s leading position in the graphics technology industry.
  • On July 18, 2016, Japan’s SoftBank agreed to acquire Anmou Company for 24.3 billion pounds (approximately US$30.9 billion) in cash.

ARM Holdings (ARMH) ARM Holdings (ARMH) investment:

Update: On September 5, 2016, Softbank completed a $31 billion acquisition of Amou Holdings, and the latter’s stock was delisted.

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