Stellar year for ARM

ARM ended the year on a high note with royalty revenues up 32%, revenues up 15%, profit up 24%, EPS up 25% and employees up by 681.

“It’s up, up, up and up,” ARM evp Pete Hutton told EW, attributing the stellar year to the success of the 64-bit v8 core which was in half the smartphones shipped in 2015, and to the fact that ARM is now the world’s No.1 supplier Pete-Hutton-EVP-and-President-of-Product-Groups.jpgof GPUs with 750 million  Mali cores shipped last year – 36% more than in 2014.

Total revenue was $1.489 billion with licenses contributing $588 million and royalties contributing $780 million.and

Tomorrow Qualcomm is expected to announce that Google will use its ARM-based server processors. Asked if ARM still expects to have 25% of the server processor market in 2020, Hutton replies: “Yes. One of the things that drives it is that server processors are dominated by one company and cloud customers want the chance to play off multiple suppliers against each other.”

“China is a pretty exciting market for us for server processors,” says Hutton, “there are lots of new semiconductor companies and the cloud customers want choice. We can see the deployment of servers happening very fast. In the Q4 results there are royalty revenues coming from servers.”

ARM has introduced a new kind of licence called a ‘Built on ARM Cortex Technology’ licence. One customer for it is Qualcomm. “It’s when we tune a processor for a customers who asks for something ‘just for us’ – some thing special which helps their system or software and which is unique to them,” says Hutton, ” we do it all including validation and test.”

ARM actually signed a 7nm physical IP licence in 2015. Asked when this would translate into a chip, Hutton replies: 7nm is going to happen faster than people think,” adding, “our R&D teams are already playing with 5nm.”

Of the 681 new employees some 150-200 came from ARM’s four acquisitions last year and the rest came from organic hires. Most of them are engaged in R&D and ARM spent 28% more on R&D in 2015 than in 2014.

Microcontrollers continue to be a soaring market for ARM and a quarter of all the ARM cores shipped last year were cores in  microcontrollers. Interestingly Hutton sees most of the interest in FD-SOI coming from the microcontroller vendors..

Lastly IoT. Is this showing any signs of reality? It turns out that ARM is automating its Cambridge car park and has seen some success in the deployment of IoT in Korean fish farms.


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