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  1. ARM's first v9 CPUs are built for computers, not just phones The Cortex-X2 and Mali-G710 are ready for ARM-based PCs. Now that ARM has unveiled its first new chip architecture in a decade, it's ready to show the CPU designs that will take advantage of those improvements. The company has unveiled a host of new Cortex CPUs (and companion Mali GPUs) that it hopes will power laptops, other computers and wearables in addition to the next wave of smartphones. The flagship is the ARM Cortex-X2, a CPU core meant to scale from "premium" smartphones to laptops. It reportedly offers a 30 percent performance boost over current high-end Android phones, although ARM didn't provide more details. You'll also see gains for more mainstream uses. The Cortex-A710 is the first ARMv9 "big" core (meant for big.LITTLE chips) and is about 10 percent faster than the Cortex-A78 while delivering 30 percent greater efficiency. Cortex-A510, meanwhile, is the first new "LITTLE" high-efficiency core in four years and should offer 35 percent better overall performance and triple the speed for machine learning. ARM claims the A510 is nearly as fast as high-performance chips from a few years ago, making it a viable option for watches and smart home tech in addition to lower-end phones. ARM is finally dragging the rest of the industry into the 64-bit era, too. It's promising that all "big" and "LITTLE" cores will be 64-bit by 2023, and its partners are helping put an end to 32-bit apps before 2021 is over. There's a good chance you've been using 64-bit phones and apps for a while, but this should push stragglers to catch up. Like the Cortex CPUs, the Mali GPUs are aimed at more than just phones. The flagship Mali-G710 is about 20 percent faster for intensive tasks (35 percent for machine learning) and is aimed at Chromebooks in addition to high-end phones. The Mali-G610 offers similar features at a lower price, while the Mali-G510 gives mid-range phones and smart TVs a 100 percent speed boost (including for machine learning) and 22 percent efficiency gains. At the low end, the Mali-G310 brings ARM's Valhall architecture to basic GPUs for the first time, boosting performance for everything from starter smartphones to wearable devices. New CoreLink CI-700 and CoreLnk NI-700 interconnects tie together the CPU, GPU and network processing with support for ARMv9 features as well as higher bandwidth and lower latency. As usual, it will be a while before you see shipping products using ARM's new technology. Chip makers will have to build their own products around these designs, and it'll take a while after that before phones, PCs and other devices use the new processing power. It's already clear what ARM expects, though — it's anticipating a future where its architecture is more pervasive across the computing landscape, with phones just one part of a much larger strategy. Source: ARM's first v9 CPUs are built for computers, not just phones
  2. Nvidia's $40 Billion Arm Acquisition Is Under Scrutiny Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images) As expected, Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of Arm is nowhere near a done deal. The EU and UK are ready to start investigating the merger, reports The Irish Times. Sources familiar with the matter told the publication that the deal will be thoroughly investigated, and could either be passed unconditionally or with concessions. The investigation comes in response to concerns that the deal will give Nvidia monopolistic power over current Arm licensees. Sources say the investigation is just beginning, as paperwork has not been filed in Brussels yet. The UK Competition and Markets Authority is currently collecting statements from various companies about their views of the acquisition. In the past, Nvidia’s rivals have called for the deal to be blocked, so it seems likely those statements will contain the same or similar sentiments. Arm co-founder Hermann Hauser wrote in a letter last year to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee that allowing Nvidia to acquire ARM would “give Nvidia a dominant position in all processor segments and create another U.S. technology monopoly.” If the acquisition were to be approved, it would only further exacerbate Britain’s worries about tech giants like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon’s influence over the UK, said Hauser. Nvidia is one of 500 Arm licensees worldwide. Should Nvidia acquire Arm, it would become the licenser of those contracts. Nivida’s rivals have called for the deal to be blocked. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang had previously told the Financial Times that “Nvidia will maintain Arm’s open licensing model,” and that it has “no intention to ‘throttle’ or ‘deny’ Arm’s supply to any customer.” An Nvidia spokesperson told Fortune, “The regulatory process is proceeding as we had planned,” and that the company “fully understand[s] that the relevant governments and regulators will review this transaction in detail, as they should, given the significance of the deal.” Nvidia remains confident that it will receive the necessary regulatory approvals to complete the acquisition. Huang told the Financial Times that Nvidia would be happy to retain Arm’s open licensing model if that was a stipulation of the acquisition. But it’s understandable if you don’t quite buy that, because tech giants have in the past agreed to conditions as part of a merger, only to disregard them later. Facebook, for instance, said it would not match WhatsApp and Facebook user accounts when it acquired the messaging platform in 2014, but it later went back on its promise. The deal is also facing scrutiny in the U.S. and China, so it looks like Nvidia has a long road ahead. Source: Nvidia's $40 Billion Arm Acquisition Is Under Scrutiny
  3. Armv9 is Arm’s first major architectural update in a decade Arm is introducing Armv9, its biggest architecture upgrade since 2011. Image Credit: Arm Arm, the leader in chips used in everything from mobile devices to supercomputers, has unveiled Armv9, the company’s first major architectural change in a decade. The new designs should result in 30% faster performance over the next two chip generations. Arm is a chip architecture company that licenses its designs to others, and its customers have shipped more than 100 billion chips in the past five years. Nvidia is in the midst of acquiring Cambridge, United Kingdom-based Arm for $40 billion, but the deal is waiting on regulatory approvals. In a press briefing, Arm CEO Simon Segars said Armv9 will be the base for the next 300 billion Arm-based chips. Arm’s customers have shipped more than 180 billion chips to date, and those chips touch more than 70% of the world’s population, Segars said. “We’re extremely excited to be sharing Arm’s vision of the next decade of computing with you,” Segars said. The new architecture has processing that balances economics, design freedom, and accessibility advantages of general-purpose computing devices with specialized processors that handle tasks like digital signal processing and machine learning. The company says Armv9 also takes security and artificial intelligence features to new levels. Above: Simon Segars is CEO of Arm. Image Credit: Arm Arm previously launched its Armv8 architecture in 2011, and that became its most successful platform in history as the foundation for smartphone chips, internet of things (IoT) devices, and a wide range of industrial devices. Arm has more than 6,500 employees, about 80% of whom are engineers. At the current rate, 100% of the world’s shared data will soon be processed on Arm; either at the endpoint, in the data networks or the cloud, Segars said. Such pervasiveness conveys a responsibility on Arm to deliver more security and performance, along with other new features in Armv9, he added. The new capabilities in Armv9 will accelerate the move from general-purpose to more specialized compute across every application as AI, IoT, and 5G gain momentum globally. Back in 2011, Arm launched its 64-bit processing architecture, enabling Arm devices to make the leap from low-power mobile devices to high-end supercomputers. “The Arm architecture is not a static thing. We keep on innovating and evolving to meet the ever changing needs of the computing world,” said Richard Grisenthwaite, chief architect, in a press briefing. “In our increasingly connected world, we’re seeing Arm processors being used at all stages. The collection of data often starts with ultra-low-power IoT devices based on the Arm profile processes, or from the Arm-based smartphones that virtually all of us carry all of the time. … It continues to be the processor of choice.” Security is computing’s greatest challenge Above: Arm’s Confidential Compute architecture is aimed at making computing more secure on the inside. Image Credit: Arm To address the greatest technology challenge today — securing the world’s data — the Armv9 roadmap introduces the Arm Confidential Compute Architecture (CCA). Confidential computing shields portions of code and data from access or modification while in use, even from privileged software, by performing computation in a hardware-based secure environment. The Arm CCA will introduce the concept of dynamically created Realms, usable by all applications, in a region that is separate from both the secure and non-secure worlds. Segars said that Realms are much like software containers, which isolate code in certain ways, but with hardware support. For example, in business applications, Realms can protect commercially sensitive data and code from the rest of the system while it is in use, at rest, and in transit. In a recent Pulse survey of enterprise executives, more than 90% of the respondents believe that if confidential computing were available, the cost of security could come down, enabling them to dramatically increase their investment in engineering innovation. “The Arm Confidential Compute architecture will introduce the concept of dynamically created Realms, usable by ordinary programs in a separate computation world from either the non-secure or secure world that we have today,” Grisenthwaite said. “Realms use a small amount of trust and a testable management software that is inherently separated from the operating system.” AI everywhere Above: The internet of things will rely on Armv9. Image Credit: Arm The ubiquity and range of AI workloads demands more diverse and specialized solutions. For example, it is estimated there will be more than eight billion AI-enabled voice-assisted devices in use by the mid-2020s, and 90% or more of on-device applications will contain AI elements along with AI-based interfaces like vision or voice. To address this need, Arm partnered with Fujitsu to create the Scalable Vector Extension (SVE) technology, which is at the heart of Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer. Building on that work, Arm has developed SVE2 for Armv9 to enable enhanced machine learning (ML) and digital signal processing (DSP) capabilities across a wider range of applications. “I am excited about the new generation of Arm instruction sets and technological capabilities,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategies. “Performance-wise, Arm is making it easier to integrate ML capabilities into the end product. It’s important to recognize that for most performance cases, especially CPU, it’s more about the architecture of the design versus the instruction set. So in other words, chip designers still need to architect something performant. Security is dramatically improving too, and if we had these technologies fully enabled today, it could ward off most all of the known attacks. I also think Arm thought about the future with ‘Realms’ even though it won’t be out day one.” SVE2 enhances the processing ability of 5G systems, virtual and augmented reality, and ML workloads running locally on CPUs, such as image processing and smart home applications. Over the next few years, Arm will further extend the AI capabilities of its technology with substantial enhancements in matrix multiplication within the CPU, in addition to ongoing AI innovations in its Mali graphics processing units (GPUs) and Ethos network processing units (NPUs). Segars noted that one customer, Johnson Controls, has been working on automation and control equipment in buildings for more than a century. “They’re a major user of Arm-based chips, and now we’re talking to them about the enhanced AI and security features coming with the new Armv9 architecture being launched today,” Segars said. “One upgrade JC is considering is the use of AI-powered digital twins monitoring key equipment in real time within the company, as well as aggregating data in the cloud.” Above: Arm powers everything. Image Credit: Arm Johnson Controls has already used Arm chips to manage chiller systems and cut energy use by more than 50%. Segars also said that Arm-based devices could prove that someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19. The smartphone could be used for that, and it could store medical information, but to be comfortable with that, Segars said he would want advanced encryption running on the device beyond what is possible today. He would want features like memory tagging to help eliminate memory cybersecurity issues. “Our first smartphone product with an Armv9 CPU will be commercially available by the end of this year,” Segars said. Besides security, Armv9 supports specialized AI, DSP, and XR workloads. Segars said he also expects Arm’s combination with Nvidia will advance areas such as graphics computing. Maximizing performance Above: Arm’s specialized processors. Image Credit: Arm Over the past five years, Arm designs have increased CPU performance annually at a rate that outpaces the industry, Segars said. He added that Arm will continue this momentum into the Armv9 generation with expected CPU performance increases of more than 30% over the next two generations of mobile and infrastructure CPUs. However, as the industry moves from general-purpose computing toward ubiquitous specialized processing, annual double-digit CPU performance gains are not enough. Along with enhancing specialized processing, Arm’s Total Compute design methodology will accelerate overall compute performance through focused system-level hardware and software optimizations and increases in use-case performance. By applying Total Compute design principles across its entire IP portfolio of automotive, client, infrastructure, and IoT solutions, Armv9 system-level technologies will span the entire IP solution, as well as improving individual IP. Additionally, Arm is developing several technologies to increase frequency, bandwidth, and cache size, and reduce memory latency to maximize the performance of Armv9-based CPUs. “There was very little detail in the disclosures. Realms should improve security, particularly for multiuser cloud systems (such as Amazon Web Services),” said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at the Linley Group, in an email. “The memory protection stuff sounded interesting, but it seems like it might be years away. In summary, v9 offers a much smaller improvement than v8.” The next decade of computing Above: Arm’s campus in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Image Credit: Arm Grisenthwaite said that addressing the demand for more complex AI-based workloads is driving the need for more secure and specialized processing, which will be the key to unlocking new markets and opportunities. “It’s been an amazing, tragic, and enlightening year, no matter where we’ve been living or working,” Segars said. “Now, it’s time to rebuild a world that’s inherently more resilient. In computers, one of the most urgent needs is expanding the data processing capacity in the cloud. We can’t just do that at any cost. Transforming the cloud isn’t just about the more. It’s about different, especially when it comes to the performance per watt of traditionally power-hungry datacenter chips.” Arm collected supporting comments from customers including Ampere Computing, Cadence, Crytek, Foxconn, Fujitsu, Google, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, NXP, Oppo, Red Hat, Renesas Electronics, Samsung, Siemens, Synopsys, Unity Technologies, Vivo, VMware, and Xiaomi Group. “We’re not just focusing on the CPU and GPU either, but looking at all of compute, as well as maximizing performance by deploying new system technologies that provide additional gains,” Segars said. “And we are broadening the architecture to execute even more compute, such as DSP and AI on the CPU.” Source: Armv9 is Arm’s first major architectural update in a decade
  4. ARM PCs will be a threat to Intel and AMD, CEO believes after Apple’s M1 success Real innovation will win out, Segars argues (Image credit: Future) Apple’s custom-designed ARM-based M1 chip has certainly made a big impact since it was launched inside MacBooks (and the new Mac mini), and ARM is keen to ride this wave of success, with the CEO making very optimistic noises about the chances of finally providing a meaningful challenge on the PC front. In other words, Simon Segars, CEO at ARM, believes that ARM-based silicon can expand from the mobile world to fully challenge Intel and AMD’s x86 chips which dominate the PC arena. ARM-based laptops have been around for some time, admittedly, but represent a niche set of devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, or other Windows on ARM devices with Qualcomm Snapdragon (ARM) chips from the likes of HP and Acer. However, it’s taken Apple to show what can really be done with ARM-based silicon – given full control of the hardware and software stack – with the M1 processor running x86 apps (via Rosetta 2 translation tech) with impressively speedy performance levels in general, while maintaining the battery life strengths that ARM chips are known for. C-Net reports that during an interview at CES 2021, CEO Segars enthused: “What we’re starting to see now is real innovation going on in a market where there hasn’t been a huge amount of innovation. Any time there’s discontinuity that makes people question how we’re doing this, that injects energy into innovation.” Segars acknowledges the difficulty involved in breaking into the PC ecosystem for ARM, but C-net notes that he believes that ARM’s combination of both power-efficiency and performance is going to push it forward in the PC world, and mean it claims a ‘significant’ level of market share in the future. M1 beast Tirias Research analyst Kevin Krewell agrees, and observes that: “The M1 is a beast with a more aggressive core design … [it] has validated that the ARM architecture can be highly performant and go toe to toe with x86.” Of course, Intel and AMD aren’t standing still. Indeed, AMD’s Ryzen 5000 mobile chips have just appeared at CES 2021, making big promises in terms of performance and battery life. And Intel has Alder Lake chips scheduled to arrive later in 2021, which are moving to adopt a model of high-powered and low-powered (more efficient) cores, very much in a similar vein to ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. Intel promises that this silicon will be a ‘significant’ (there’s that word again) breakthrough, and it’s certainly an exciting development on the laptop front. How the future will pan out in terms of these massing CPU armies, of course, only time will tell – but it’s certainly looking like ARM has forces massing for a credible attack on the traditionally dominant powers in the PC arena. The other point of interest here, of course, is if the Nvidia purchase of ARM goes through, and exactly how that might impact the firm’s strategy going forward. There are still regulatory hurdles to be cleared with that deal, though, for sure. ARM PCs will be a threat to Intel and AMD, CEO believes after Apple’s M1 success
  5. UK watchdog begins investigating Nvidia's $40bn takeover of Arm Competition and Markets Authority examining deal to buy UK-based chip firm Britain’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into the $40bn (£29.5bn) takeover of the UK-based chip designer Arm by the US company Nvidia. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called for interested parties to submit views on the contentious deal before the launch of a formal investigation later this year. Arm Holdings, which employs 6,500 staff including 3,000 in the UK, is a global leader in designing chips for smartphones, computers and tablets. California-based Nvidia, a graphics chip specialist, announced its plan to buy the British tech group from Japan’s SoftBank in September. SoftBank had acquired Arm for $32bn in 2016, when the Japanese company took advantage of the fall in value of the pound after the Brexit vote. Arm is based in Cambridge but has operations in a number of UK towns and cities, including Manchester, Belfast and Warwick. Its chief executive, Simon Segars, acknowledged at the time of the Nvidia deal that it could take up to 18 months to win approval from regulators around the world. On Wednesday, the chief executive of the CMA, Andrea Coscelli, said: “The chip technology industry is worth billions and critical to many of the products that we use most in our everyday lives. We will work closely with other competition authorities around the world to carefully consider the impact of the deal and ensure that it doesn’t ultimately result in consumers facing more expensive or lower-quality products.” The CMA said it would examine the possible effect of the deal on competition in the UK and whether Arm had an “incentive to withdraw, raise prices or reduce the quality of its intellectual property licensing services to Nvidia’s rivals”. If the investigation finds that the deal breaches UK competition rules, the CMA’s powers include the authority to block the takeover. In October, Hermann Hauser, the co-founder of Arm, wrote to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee arguing that if the deal was allowed to proceed, the combined business would become the next US tech monopoly alongside companies such as Google and Facebook. He has argued that because Nvidia is one of more than 500 users of Arm’s designs worldwide – which include Apple, Samsung and Qualcomm – becoming the Cambridge-based business’s parent company will destroy Arm’s “even-handed” model and ultimately kill the world-leading British tech company. Hauser also told the BBC last year the deal would be “an absolute disaster for Cambridge, the UK and Europe”, adding that Nvidia would inevitably decide to relocate Arm to the US, leading to lost jobs. Hauser has said the government should use its powers to prevent the takeover, but has also backed indefinite legally binding conditions as an alternative. These include a guarantee to keep Arm’s staff in Cambridge, Belfast, Manchester and Warwick, and a promise that Nvidia does not get preferential treatment on new versions of the designer’s chips. The shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, has also expressed concerns about the deal, and has called on the government to intervene to prevent parts of Arm from being moved out of the UK. Source: UK watchdog begins investigating Nvidia's $40bn takeover of Arm
  6. Nvidia's $40 billion Arm acquisition may have a speedbump Could be just the first of many (Image credit: Nvidia) US competition regulators have demanded more documents from Nvidia amidst calls by its rivals to block its acquisition of Arm. Arm’s business model involves licensing chip designs to several hundred other companies including many that compete directly with Nvidia. These competitors claim the takeover will put them at a disadvantage as it would allow Nvidia to directly affect their operations. Close scrutiny Nvidia announced its plan to acquire the British chip designer from Japan’s SoftBank in a $40 billion deal, back in September. Since both companies are significant entities in the world of technology, the California-headquartered technology giant expected this kind of scrutiny by anti-competition regulators, not just in the US, but in other jurisdictions as well. In fact, when the deal was announced, Nvidia had said they expected the deal to take 18 months to complete. Now, according to reports, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent a notice to Nvidia asking for further details about the deal before it takes a call whether the acquisition requires a full-blown anti-competition investigation. Reports claim that the FTC is likely to “seek reams of internal documents and interview executives as part of the process,” which also involves inviting comments from various interested parties, including Arm’s customers and Nvidia’s rivals. First of many If the FTC sees merit in the anti-competition claims, it could sue Nvidia to block the acquisition, which “could trigger years of delays”. Nvidia will face similar scrutiny once it files for approval in other jurisdictions outside the US, most significantly in the UK and China. Chinese chip makers such as Huawei have already been lobbying Beijing to block the deal fearing it will put them at the mercy of an American company. In the UK, Arm’s co-founder Hermann Hauser has urged the Government to stop the deal as it would affect hundreds of jobs. This, despite reports of assurances from Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang, that his company is prepared to make legally binding commitments to protect jobs in Britain. Via: The Telegraph Nvidia's $40 billion Arm acquisition may have a speedbump
  7. How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world 1987's Acorn Archimedes was the first production RISC-based personal computer. Enlarge Jason Torchinsky 166 with 105 posters participating Let's be honest: 2020 sucks. So much of this year has been a relentless slog of bad news and miserable events that it's been hard to keep up. Yet most of us have kept up, and the way most of us do so is with the small handheld computers we carry with us at all times. At least in America, we still call these by the hilariously reductive name "phones." We can all use a feel-good underdog story right now, and luckily our doomscrolling 2020 selves don't have to look very far. That's because those same phones, and so much of our digital existence, run on the same thing: the ARM family of CPUs. And with Apple's release of a whole new line of Macs based on their new M1 CPU—an ARM-based processor—and with those machines getting fantastic reviews, it's a good time to remind everyone of the strange and unlikely source these world-controlling chips came from. If you were writing reality as a screenplay, and, for some baffling reason, you had to specify what the most common central processing unit used in most phones, game consoles, ATMs, and other innumerable devices was, you'd likely pick one from one of the major manufacturers, like Intel. That state of affairs would make sense and fit in with the world as people understand it; the market dominance of some industry stalwart would raise no eyebrows or any other bits of hair on anyone. But what if, instead, you decided to make those CPUs all hail from a barely-known company from a country usually not the first to come to mind as a global leader in high-tech innovations (well, not since, say, the 1800s)? And what if that CPU owed its existence, at least indirectly, to an educational TV show? Chances are the producers would tell you to dial this script back a bit; come on, take this seriously, already. And yet, somehow, that's how reality actually is. Time well spent in 2020. In the beginning, there was TV The ARM processor, the bit of silicon that controls over 130 billion devices all over the world and without which modernity would effectively come to a crashing halt, has a really strange origin story. Its journey is peppered with bits of seemingly bad luck that ended up providing crucial opportunities, unexpected technical benefits that would prove absolutely pivotal, and a start in some devices that would be considered abject failures. But everything truly did sort of get set in motion by a TV show—a 1982 BBC program called The Computer Programme. This was an attempt by the BBC to educate Britons about just what the hell all these new fancy machines that looked like crappy typewriters connected to your telly were all about. The show was part of a larger Computer Literacy Project started by the British government and the BBC as a response to fears that the UK was deeply and alarmingly unprepared for the new revolution in personal computing that was happening in America. Unlike most TV shows, the BBC wanted to feature a computer on the show that would be used to explain fundamental computing concepts and teach a bit of BASIC programming. The concepts included graphics and sound, the ability to connect to teletext networks, speech synthesis, and even some rudimentary AI. As a result, the computer needed for the show would have to be pretty good—in fact, the producers' demands were initially so high that nothing on the market really satisfied the BBC's aspirations. So, the BBC put out a call to the UK's young computer industry, which was then dominated by Sinclair, a company that made its fortune in calculators and tiny televisions. Ultimately, it was a much smaller upstart company that ended up getting the lucrative contract: Acorn Computers. An Acorn blooms Acorn was a Cambridge-based firm that started in 1979 after developing computer systems originally designed to run fruit machines—we call them slot machines—then turning them into small hobbyist computer systems based on 6502 processors. That was the same CPU family used in the Apple II, Atari 2600, and Commodore 64 computers, among many others. This CPU's design will become important later, so, you know, don't forget about it. Acorn had developed a home computer called the Atom, and when the BBC opportunity arose, they started plans for the Atom's successor to be developed into what would become the BBC Micro. The BBC's demanding list of features ensured the resulting machine would be quite powerful for the era, though not quite as powerful as Acorn's original Atom-successor design. That Atom successor would have featured two CPUs, a tried-and-true 6502 and an as-yet undecided 16-bit CPU. Acorn later dropped that CPU but kept an interface system, called the Tube, that would allow for additional CPUs to be connected to the machine. (This too will become more important later.) The engineering of the BBC Micro really pushed Acorn's limits, as it was a pretty state-of-the-art machine for the era. This resulted in some fascinatingly half-ass but workable engineering decisions, like having to replicate the placement of an engineer's finger on the motherboard with a resistor pack in order to get the machine to work. Nobody ever really figured out why the machine only worked when a finger was placed on a certain point on the motherboard, but once they were able to emulate the finger touch with resistors, they were just satisfied it worked, and moved on. Here, listen to one of the key engineers tell you himself: The relevant section starts at 9:40. The BBC Micro proved to be a big success for Acorn, becoming the dominant educational computer in the UK in the 1980s. As everyone with any urge to read this far likely knows, the 1980s were a very important time in the history of computing. IBM's PC was released in 1981, setting the standard for personal computing for decades to come. The Apple Lisa in 1983 presaged the Mac and the whole revolution of the windows-icons-mouse graphical user interface that would dominate computing to come. Acorn saw these developments happening and realized they would need something more powerful than the aging but reliable 6502 to power their future machines if they wanted to compete. Acorn had been experimenting with a lot of 16-bit CPUs: the 65816, the 16-bit variant of the 6502, the Motorola 68000 that powered the Apple Macintosh, and the comparatively rare National Semiconductor 32016. None of these were really doing the job, though, and Acorn reached out to Intel to see about implementing the Intel 80286 CPUs into their new architecture. Intel ignored them completely. RISC-y business Spoiler alert: this will prove a very bad decision for Intel. Acorn next made the fateful decision to design their own CPU. Inspired by the lean operation of Western Design Center (the company that was developing new 6502 versions) and various research about a new sort of processor design concept called Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC), Acorn decided to move ahead. Engineers Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson proved to be key players on the project. Now, RISC processors are called what they are in comparison to Complex Instruction Set Computing (CISC processors). It's probably worth trying to give a very, very perhaps embarrassingly simplified explanation of what this actually means. CPUs have a group of operations they can undertake—their instruction sets. CISC CPUs have large, complex sets of instructions, allowing them to perform complicated tasks over multiple "clock cycles" of the CPU. This means the complexity is actually built into the hardware of the chip itself, which means the software code can be less complex. So, code for CISC machines reduces the number of instructions, but the number of cycles the CPU needs to execute the instructions goes up. RISC, as you probably already guessed, is the opposite: fewer instructions, less hardware on the chip itself, and every instruction can be executed in a single clock cycle. As a result, code has to be longer and seemingly less efficient, which means more memory, but the chip itself is simpler and can execute the simple instructions faster. Acorn was well-suited to design a RISC CPU since the chip they were most familiar with, the 6502, is often said to be a sort of proto-RISC design. There's all kinds of opinions about this on the Internet (I know, right?) and I'm not looking to get into a painful, tedious, unsexy argument with anyone about it, but for the sake of what I'm explaining right now, trust me in that the 6502 at least has some very RISC-like traits. The new Acorn chip was so RISC-y in fact that Sophie Wilson, when she was designing the instruction set for Acorn's new processor, seems to have clearly been directly inspired by a number of 6502 design concepts. Enlarge / Thanks to the Internet, the brochure for the Archimedes High Performance Computer System is available online in its entirety. ComputingHistory.org Using the BBC Micro's Tube interface as a testbed, the new RISC-based CPU developed by Acorn was called the Acorn RISC Machine, or ARM. Acorn's chip manufacturing supplier VLSI began to produce ARM CPUs, first for Acorn's internal research and development. Not long after, a production version, the ARM2, was ready. In 1987, the first production RISC-based personal computer was introduced, the Acorn Archimedes, powered by the ARM2 CPU. The ARM proved to have better performance than Intel's 286, despite having 245,000 less transistors than Intel's big chip. The Archimedes, with its Arthur OS in ROM, proved to be a flexible, fast, and powerful machine. It had good graphics for the era, a graphical user interface, and some cool and fast low-polygon demos and games that really showed off the machine's speed, thanks to its lean and hungry CPU. At the time, this first ARM-based machine claimed to be the fastest personal computer of the era, with a performance rating of several times that of Intel's 80286. Less is more The ARM's lack of transistors was a tell about the relative simplicity of the ARM itself, and as a result the chip used much less power and ran far less hot than nearly anything else around for its computing power. The low power/low heat traits of the ARM wasn't part of the initial design brief, since Acorn was designing a CPU for a desktop machine, but it would likely prove to be the most fortunate and beneficial unplanned byproduct in the history of computing. This low power consumption and low heat production made the ARM a natural for mobile devices, which is why Apple came sniffing around in the late 1980s looking for a CPU powerful enough to (often comically) translate handwriting into text and run a GUI all while being powered by AA batteries and not turning the handheld device it was to run into a hand-burning block of pain. The handheld device they wanted to power was the infamous Newton, and only the fast and lean ARM core could power it. Apple and Acorn's chip partner VLSI partnered with Acorn to spin off the ARM division into its own new company, called Advanced RISC Machines, allowing the ARM name to stick. Under this alliance, with Apple's considerable resources added, ARM would develop the ARM6 core, with the ARM610 CPU being the first production chip based on that core, and, in a 20 Mhz version, would go on to power the Apple Newton in 1993. While, sure, the Newton was kind of a spectacular failure, in hindsight it was really something much, much more: a handheld, battery-powered touch-screen device powered by an ARM CPU. Today this same description could be used to describe the literally billions of smartphones in use constantly all over the world, and it was first field-tested with the device that most people remember from that Simpsons episode where it transformed the handwritten phrase "Beat up Martin" into "Eat up Martha." The ARM610 would go on to power a new generation of Acorn Archimedes computers and a strange Newton-based laptop called the eMate. In 2001, an ARM7-core CPU would power Apple's iPod and Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. In 2004, a pair of ARMs would drive the twin screens of the Nintendo DS. Then, in 2007, Apple would release the first iPhone with its ARM11-core CPU. From that moment on, everything went ARM-bonkers. ARM CPUs became the default choice for smartphones, whether they were from Apple or anyone else. ARM CPUs powered every thinking machine that wasn't a strict Intel-based desktop or laptop or server. Now, with ARM Chromebook and Apple's new MacOS ARM-based desktops and laptops, the ARM looks like it will finally be returning to where it all began—in a desktop computer. So many years later, the ARM origin story remains worth telling because it's so wonderfully improbable; it's such a strange, unplanned sequence of events from unlikely sources. Even though it is absolutely dominant in the world now, ARM's humble beginnings make it feel like less of an unfeeling behemoth of industry than, say, the Intel/AMD near-biopoly feels. It's nice to just take a moment and reflect: because the British felt they were being left behind by the computer revolution, they decided to make TV shows about computers. To do that, they needed a computer, so an underdog British company came up with a good one. And when that little company needed to build a faster CPU, because Intel couldn't be bothered to answer their calls, they made their own. This in-house CPU just so happened to not use much power or make much heat, which got the attention of Apple, who used it to power what most people consider to be its biggest failure. From there, of course, the company went on to take over the fucking world. If I made that up, you'd say I was trying too hard to be quirky or that I'd seen too many Wes Anderson movies. But that's reality. However... if reality is, in fact, a simulation, I bet it's powered by ARMs, too. How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world
  8. Microsoft may be developing its own, in-house ARM CPU designs Bloomberg's unconfirmed report relies on confidential sources within Microsoft. Enlarge / Microsoft has so far neither confirmed nor denied Bloomberg's claims regarding in-house CPU designs. Aurich Lawson / Grid Engine 203 with 105 posters participating, including story author This afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft is in the process of developing its own ARM CPU designs, following in the footsteps of Apple's M1 mobile CPU and Amazon's Graviton datacenter CPU. Bloomberg cites off-record conversations with Microsoft employees who didn't want to be named. These sources said that Microsoft is currently developing an ARM processor for datacenter use and exploring the possibility of another for its Surface line of mobile PCs. Bloomberg's sources paint the datacenter part as "more likely" and a Surface part as "possible." This seems plausible, given that Microsoft's chip design unit reports to the Azure cloud VP, with no direct reporting ties to the Surface division. Microsoft declined to comment on any specific plans, saying only that it "[continues] to invest in our own capabilities in areas like design, manufacturing and tools, while also fostering and strengthening partnerships with a wide range of chip providers." Enlarge / Microsoft collaborated with Qualcomm on the SQ1 processor in its Surface Pro X laptops. Microsoft Given Microsoft's deep partnerships with Intel, AMD, and now Qualcomm, this would be a sensitive topic for the software giant. With nothing more than anonymous sources to go on, it's a little early to be certain what, exactly, Microsoft plans to get out of its silicon research. Microsoft could still be simply co-developing designs with existing hardware partners like Qualcomm, the way it already has with the SQ1 and SQ2 processors in Surface Pro X. If Microsoft does follow Apple's and Amazon's lead in designing its own custom ARM processors, it stands potentially to shorten its supply chain and add another source of profit—but depending on scale, fabrication of the new designs could prove to be a stumbling block. Even if Bloomberg's report proves 100 percent accurate, the end result is likely to follow Amazon's lead much more closely than Apple's. Although Amazon tightened its supply chain by producing its own Graviton hardware, its software ecosystem remains open—without solid Linux operating system support, a server's future in a datacenter is very poor indeed. Microsoft would face the same challenges with a datacenter-focused product, and for the same reasons—although the "less likely" Surface ecosystem would be considerably less constrained. We have reached out to Microsoft for comment, and we'll update this story with any new information as it arrives. Microsoft may be developing its own, in-house ARM CPU designs
  9. Today, we’re releasing the first preview of x64 emulation for ARM64 devices to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel starting with the Build 21277. It can be installed on Windows 10 on ARM PCs by following the instructions as explained in this blog post. When we first launched Windows 10 on ARM in late 2017, the long tail of apps customers needed were dominated by 32-bit-only x86 applications, so we focused our efforts on building an x86 emulator that could run the broad ecosystem of Windows apps seamlessly and transparently. Over time, the ecosystem has moved more toward 64-bit-only x64 apps and we’ve heard the feedback that customers would like to see those x64 apps running on ARM64. That’s why we are working on expanding the capability of our emulation to include x64 applications and sharing this first preview to gather feedback. While we’re expanding the capabilities of our emulator, for the best possible experience we recommend developers support their apps natively on ARM64. ARM64 apps are fully supported in our Windows SDK and Visual Studio 2017 onwards, and we encourage our developers to recompile their apps for ARM64. In this preview, you can install x64 apps from the Microsoft Store or from any other location of your choosing. You can try key x64-only productivity apps like Autodesk Sketchbook, as well as games like Rocket League. Other apps, like Chrome, which run today on ARM64 as 32-bit apps, can run as 64-bit using the new x64 emulation capability. These apps may benefit from having more memory when run as 64-bit emulated apps. In the spirit of the Dev Channel, this capability is still in development and will continue to improve in both compatibility and performance over time, so some of the apps you try running in emulation may not work initially. As you test and try the build, share your feedback with us on the experience in Windows Feedback Hub by using the subcategory x64 Apps on ARM. Your feedback will play a key role in ensuring we are aware of the scenarios most important to you so we can focus on refining them as we provide updates in the coming months. For the best app performance, please install a preview version of the Qualcomm Adreno graphics driver from the following locations: Samsung Galaxy Book S: https://aka.ms/x64previewdriver Lenovo Flex 5G: https://aka.ms/x64previewdriver Surface Pro X: https://aka.ms/x64previewdriverprox Additionally, to support running both ARM64 and x64 C++ applications at the same time, please install a preview version of the ARM64 C++ redistributable from https://aka.ms/arm64previewredist. These steps will not be required in future Insider Preview builds. With developers increasingly supporting ARM64 apps natively, emulating x64 apps is an important step in our journey with Windows 10 on ARM. Through working with Qualcomm Technologies, Windows 10 on ARM PCs continue to deliver incredible battery life, connectivity capabilities with 4G LTE and 5G, and immersive experiences with AI acceleration, pen and touch capabilities – all features we believe to be more essential as we work, learn, and connect from home and other remote locations. From the unveiling of new Windows 10 on ARM devices like the Acer Spin 7, the Lenovo Flex 5G and the new Surface Pro X, to the announcement of compatibility on ARM through App Assure, the releases of ARM64-native Microsoft Teams, a fully optimized browsing experience with native Microsoft Edge, to the OpenGL/OpenCL compatibility layer, and the beta version of ARM64-native Photoshop as well as ARM64-native Adobe Lightroom that was released this week – we are committed to listening to customer feedback to ensure Windows 10 on ARM provides a great customer experience. We look forward to the feedback from our Windows Insider community. If you’d like to try the emulation preview and are not yet part of the Windows Insider Program you can join here. source: https://blogs.windows.com/windows-insider/2020/12/10/introducing-x64-emulation-in-preview-for-windows-10-on-arm-pcs-to-the-windows-insider-program/
  10. Arm wants to obliterate Intel and AMD with gigantic 192-core CPU But only in the cloud for now (Image credit: Arm) Arm has provided an updated roadmap on its Neoverse platform, first unveiled back in 2019, setting out more on what's to come. Current Neoverse N1 designs reach 128-cores and 128-threads, while future N2 products are expected to cement that design while significantly improving on all other metrics. Focusing on pure performance at any cost, Arm Neoverse N2 designs will surely make Intel and AMD sit up and take notice. Built on a 5nm node, Perseus will offer up to 192 cores with a 350W TDP, rivalling and potentially surpassing EPYC and Xeon in key categories. The V1, meanwhile, is likely to have a lower core count, but will offer better performance per thread (as compared to performance per socket). Both Neoverse V1 and N2 support SVE (Scalable Vector Extensions), which is also used in the Fujitsu A64FX chip powering the world’s fastest supercomputer. According to AnandTech’s Andrei Frumusanu, the V1 will likely be an Arm v8.4+SVE1 design, while the N2 will likely feature a v9+SVE2 design. Processors based on the N2 and V1 platforms will also offer PCIe Gen 5, with support for DDR5 and HBM2e memory. As a side note, it is very likely that Nvidia, which acquired Arm earlier this month for $40 billion, had seen what has now been announced, with the new ISA spec and high performance core design coming in 2021 and 2022. Arm wants to obliterate Intel and AMD with gigantic 192-core CPU
  11. Nvidia’s $40 billion Arm acquisition is about bringing AI down from the cloud A big deal that could be a big deal Photo by Anton Novoderezhkin\TASS via Getty Images Nvidia’s $40 billion acquisition of Arm is a hugely significant deal for the tech world, with implications that will take years to unravel spanning many areas of the sector. But if you listened to the press babble coming from the two companies over the last 24 hours, you’d think there was only one factor driving the purchase: artificial intelligence. “AI is the most powerful technology force of our time. It’s the automation of automation, where software writes software,” Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang told journalists during a press call this morning. “Together, [Nvidia and Arm are] going to create the world’s premier computing company for the age of AI.” On the same call moments later, Arm CEO Simon Segars repeated these sentiments. “We now look at a world ahead of us that is defined by AI,” said Segars. “We see that AI is reaching a stage of maturity where, everyday, more and more newer applications can be found for the use of AI. Through the combination of Arm and Nvidia ... we can enable the world’s semiconductor industry to build chips that deliver on this vision.” In some ways, the focus on AI is a defensive PR move for the two companies. This is an acquisition that involves many thorny issues, including the long-term status of Arm’s UK investments (where it’s one of the country’s precious few high-tech success stories), and the possibility that new ownership will imperil Arm’s chip licensing business (which attracts customers like Apple and Samsung in part because of its independence). But these are questions that will take years to resolve, and by bringing the conversation back to AI, Nvidia and Arm can focus on a topic that is shiny, exciting, and helpfully vague on the details. However, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong to do so, as the basic premise for why Nvidia is buying Arm will lead to exciting machine learning applications does make sense. Edge AI is important for a range of use-cases, from facial recognition to robots. Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP via Getty Images The big idea is that AI, like some ancient god, is finally stepping down from the clouds to walk among the people. Machine learning algorithms used to rely on data centers for computation, with AI tools and applications sending information over the internet to these remote servers for processing. But while heavy-grade chips are still necessary for research and cutting-edge applications, many machine learning tools are now lightweight enough to run on-device without connecting to the internet. The benefits of this are straightforward: you get faster processing, greater security, and reduced power consumption. It’s why our smartphones can now do things like AI-enhanced photography and why we have technology like disinfectant robots in hospitals and facial recognition for pigs. These sorts of mobile applications (known as edge AI) really are the future of the field. As Huang put it: “AI is moving from the cloud to the edge, where smart sensors connected to AI computers can speed checkouts, direct forklifts, orchestrate traffic, save power. In time, there will be trillions of these small autonomous computers, powered by AI, connected to massively powerful cloud data centers in every corner of the world.” As the creator of the GPUs used in many AI data centers, Nvidia can supply the first half of this equation, while Arm, designer of cheap and energy-efficient mobile chips, takes care of the second. It doesn’t take a genius to work out there’s potentially profitable overlap between these two businesses. (Though it does take $40 billion to force that overlap into existence.) In this sense, Nvidia and Arm’s focus on AI is perfectly reasonable, as the companies’ individual expertise can improve one another’s AI offerings. As chip market analyst Patrick Moorhead put it in his opinion on the deal: “Arm plays in areas that Nvidia does not or isn’t that successful, while Nvidia plays in many places Arm doesn’t or isn’t that successful.” Nvidia, for a start, can potentially leverage the efficiency of Arm’s CPUs to bring down power consumption in its data centers. Although edge AI is a big part of the field’s future, data centers aren’t going anywhere either, and the energy costs for running them are mammoth. Nvidia CEO Huang himself suggested this would be a focus of the acquisition when he noted on this morning’s call that “energy efficiency is the single most important thing when it comes to computing going forward.” Arm, meanwhile, should benefit hugely from Nvidia’s AI expertise and resources. Nvidia has an impressive reach in the world of machine learning, spanning fields like robotics, self-driving cars, and medical imagining, as well as consistently publishing interesting and novel ML research. It also simply has the size to accelerate any R&D efforts Arm needs in order to push its AI capabilities further. Fittingly enough, Nvidia’s ability to offer extra capitalization is, in part, only due to interest in artificial intelligence. As journalist Alistair Barr noted on Twitter, back in 2016 Nvidia was worth $30 billion, but its valuation has since increased to over $300 billion because of demand generated for its GPUs by machine learning (among other things). So while demand for AI motivated this deal, it also made it possible in the first place. Nvidia’s $40 billion Arm acquisition is about bringing AI down from the cloud
  12. Nvidia will keep ARM licensing “neutral,” wants to license GPU tech, too But can Nvidia play nice with Apple, Linux, and other ARM partners? Enlarge Nvidia 59 with 35 posters participating Nvidia has officially announced that it is buying ARM from SoftBank for $40 billion. The deal is one of the biggest tech acquisitions of all time and will see Nvidia control the world's most popular CPU architecture. Nvidia's press release oddly paints the deal as primarily about "AI," saying the deal "brings together NVIDIA's leading AI computing platform with ARM's vast ecosystem to create the premier computing company for the age of artificial intelligence." Nvidia apparently sees GPU-accelerated AI as its next big growth sector, and the company currently sells embedded systems for self-driving cars and multi-GPU systems for workstations and servers, offering high-teraflop deep-learning performance. Somehow it thinks ARM will help with this. What seems far more important, though, is how Nvidia will manage ARM's wide-ranging chip design and architecture-licensing business, which powers the majority of the world's electronic devices, especially those smaller than a laptop. Nvidia says that "as part of NVIDIA, ARM will continue to operate its open-licensing model while maintaining the global customer neutrality that has been foundational to its success." On a conference call following the deal, ARM CEO Simon Segars also reiterated, "We will maintain our neutral business model and will keep a level of independence." The two companies don't seem like they will be completely separate, though, with Nvidia adding, "ARM partners will also benefit from both companies' offerings, including NVIDIA's numerous innovations." A report from Reuters elaborates on this, saying, "Nvidia will expand the model by licensing some of Nvidia's designs—including its graphical processing unit, or GPU, technology—through Arm's network of silicon partners." ARM will move from being a Japanese-owned company to being an American-owned company, which should further worry Chinese companies facing a trade war with the United States. Nvidia says ARM will remain headquartered in its hometown of Cambridge, England, which Nvidia wants to turn into a "world-class technology center." The company plans to build a "state-of-the-art AI supercomputer, powered by Arm CPUs" on the campus. Nvidia also promises a big boost to ARM's R&D spending. Any deal this big is going to be subject to regulatory approval around the world, and Nvidia says the deal should close in "approximately 18 months." Can everyone get along with Nvidia? One potential problem with Nvidia running the world's most-popular chip designer is that Nvidia has a reputation for being hard to work with. If Nvidia wants to keep ARM running as it has in the past, the company will need to rebuild a few burned bridges. Linux is easily the most popular OS for ARM chips, both as mainline GNU/Linux and Android, but Nvidia has never gotten along well with the Linux community. Nvidia has been unwilling to open source its drivers, which makes Linux support difficult. In 2012, Linus Torvalds was asked why Nvidia support on Linux was so poor, and Torvalds famously responded, "Nvidia has been the single worst company we've ever dealt with. Nvidia, fuck you!" Nvidia and Apple also do not get along, which puts Apple in an awkward position. Apple and Nvidia's problems can be traced back to 2008 MacBooks, which shipped with some defective Nvidia GPUs that Apple ended up launching a free replacement program for. Afterward, Apple reportedly did not take kindly to "the arrogance and bluster of Nvidia proposals" in the next round of negotiations, and Apple soon ended up dropping Nvidia GPUs from its lineup completely. The bad blood between the two companies seems to continue to this day: Apple dropped support for newer Nvidia products in MacOS Mojave in 2019, and even aftermarket eGPUs or PCI-E Nvidia cards for the Mac Pro aren't supported on Mac OS. Apple's in-house SoC division not only develops ARM chips used in iPhones and iPads, just three months ago Apple announced the entire Mac line will transition from Intel to ARM. Apple's entire hardware lineup will soon rely on architecture licensing from Nvidia. Potential “backlash” If Nvidia does end up ruining ARM, there aren't a lot of alternative options currently out there. The great hope would be in the RISC-V instruction set, an open source ARM alternative that doesn't require any licensing. Spinning up a quality ecosystem of hardware, compilers, operating systems, and software is such a daunting task, though, that most vendors were happy paying ARM licensing fees. Maybe Nvidia's purchase will be the push companies needed, though. The earlier Reuters report we mentioned already claims there is a "backlash" forming against Nvidia, and it says that "a source at one US company using Arm designs said the move would likely accelerate an industry shift already under way from Arm designs to RISC-V." Nvidia will keep ARM licensing “neutral,” wants to license GPU tech, too
  13. Nvidia's $40B deal for Arm could affect Apple Nvidia agreed to pay Arm's current owner, SoftBank Group, $12 billion in cash and $21.5 billion in stock, along with other payments for the chip design firm. KrulUA / Simon Carter / Peter Crowther / Getty Images Nvidia, best known as a major player in graphics processing, today announced it had locked down a deal to purchase U.K.-based chip licensing giant Arm Limited for $40 billion. According to Bloomberg, Nvidia will pay Arm's current owner, SoftBank Group, $12 billion in cash and $21.5 billion in stock, along with other payments, including a signing bonus and possible milestone moneys based on meeting performance targets. Arm does not manufacture silicon; instead it designs processors. It then licenses those designs for others to customize – or not – before fabricators crank out chips from silicon wafers. Arm's impact has been massive, primarily because its made-for-mobile chips have powered virtually every smartphone since Apple's 2007 introduction of its iPhone. The chips also are at the heart – or brain – of everything from tablets to Internet-of-things (IoT) devices such as sensors and controllers. Earlier this year, Apple committed to transitioning its Mac personal computer line from processors provided by Intel to designs of its own spun off from licensing Arm. The first such Macs are set to debut before year's end. The sale of Arm to Nvidia will give other chip makers pause, but it may impact Apple as well, argued Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates. "Apple is a[n Arm] licensee. But will they want to play with Nvidia once it owns Arm? Apple didn't want to play with Intel, after all," Gold said in an interview Monday. Apple may have valid concerns about an Nvidia-owned Arm, Gold contended. "Will licensees worry their proprietary use of Arm IP [intellectual property] might somehow be compromised or used by Nvidia?" he wrote in a research note shared with Computerworld. "I think this will be an issue, not in the short term, as you can't just rip and replace technology, but longer term, especially for the biggest players who have the wherewithal to go it alone and ultimately design out the Arm IP if they perceive it as a risk." Gold thought that Apple might wonder whether its IP is secure with Arm as a, well, arm of Nvidia. "Apple is always concerned about secrets," Gold said during the interview, perhaps understating Apple's penchant for secrecy. One reason Arm has been so attractive to Apple and other technology companies is that Arm's business model has been customer-neutral. Because Arm does not make its own chips, it could not directly compete with, say, Apple's silicon or force the Cupertino, Calif. company to buy chips from Arm rather than outsource the fabrication. "Apple wants to be in control of its own destiny," Gold observed. Gold also pondered the financial implications of Nvidia's purchase. "Do they want a heavy-duty payback?" he asked during the interview, referring to possible higher licensing fees. That, too, could put licensees like Apple in an unexpected spot. For its part, Nvidia said it isn't about to make changes to Arm. "As part of Nvidia, Arm will continue to operate its open-licensing model while maintaining the global customer neutrality that has been foundational to its success," the company asserted in a statement. Elsewhere, Nvidia's CEO, Jensen Huang, told Bloomberg that with the money his company is spending on Arm he had no incentive to disrupt current relationships with customers. That may well be true over the short term, say, the next two or three years, Gold said, but no one, perhaps not even Nvidia, knows how Arm might take on a different strategy beyond that time frame. Companies almost invariably make a no-changes pledge when they acquire another firm, promising, for example, to keep the current leadership team in place or declaring that it does not envision layoffs among the acquisition's workforce. Those promises are often kept ... until they aren't. The deal is not guaranteed, of course, for it will have to earn approval from regulatory agencies of a number of countries and organizations, including the U.S., the U.K., the European Union and the People's Republic of China. "Will this even go through?" Gold asked. If it does, will Arm be considered a U.S. company, rather than a U.K. firm as it now is? (Nvidia on Monday said that it would keep Arm's headquarters in the U.K.) If so, and President Trump is reelected, might Arm be used by his administration against China? "We're in the middle of a trade war, you know," Gold said. "That would put all the Chinese chip makers out of business." With that as a possibility, how likely would China sign off on the deal? Nvidia's $40B deal for Arm could affect Apple
  14. It's official: x64 emulation is coming to Windows on ARM The idea that Microsoft was going to support AMD64 (or x64) emulation on Windows on ARM has been floating around since November of last year, when we exclusively reported that the company was working on it. Now, it's official, the firm announced today. As it stands right now, ARM64 PCs can run three kinds of apps: 32-bit native ARM apps, 64-bit native ARM apps, and 32-bit emulated Intel (x86) apps. Soon, you can add 64-bit emulated Intel (x64) apps to the mix. Performance on emulated apps isn't as good as native, of course, and 64-bit performance will likely be worse. But the purpose here is to solve the app gap problem. It's similar to what we used to see from Windows Phone. Microsoft knew that people only use a certain amount of apps, so it figured that it could make sure to secure the top certain amount of downloaded apps, and the platform would be fine for most people. That left the platform with giants like Facebook and Twitter, but users still couldn't get that one app that they needed, such as the app to purchase a train ticket from their local transportation company. It's a similar story with Windows on ARM. Most things run, and most things run well. In fact, comparing a native ARM64 application to its x64 counterpart running on an Intel Y-series processor, you'll likely find that the ARM64 version is much faster, especially with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 or Microsoft's SQ2 processors. The main things work, such as Edge, Office, and more, and on top of that, much more run as 32-bit apps in emulation. But now, if there's that one app that's 64-bit only, you'll be able to run that as well. According to Microsoft, x64 emulation is coming in November, and Windows Insiders will see it first. With the cadence of Windows updates, non-Insiders won't get it until next year. Moreover, x64 emulation is coming to all Windows on ARM platforms. You don't have to buy a new Windows on ARM PC to get it. This feature will be available going all the way back to the Snapdragon 835, even though it might not work too well on something that old. It's official: x64 emulation is coming to Windows on ARM
  15. UK should intervene to stop sale of Cambridge-based chip designer, says entrepreneur The co-founder of Arm has said that if the government does not stop the $40bn (£31bn) takeover of the British chip designer, its proposed buyer, Nvidia, will become the next US tech monopoly alongside companies such as Google and Facebook. Detailing his concerns in a letter to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, Hermann Hauser said that a deal would end Arm’s position as the “Switzerland of the semiconductor industry”. Arm, which employs 6,500 staff, including 3,000 in the UK, is a global leader in designing chips for smartphones, computers and tablets. “There is not a single important semiconductor company in the world which does not have an Arm licence,” said Hauser. “Nvidia has an opportunity to become the quasi monopoly supplier of microprocessors to the world. This [deal] will give Nvidia a dominant position in all processor segments and create another US technology monopoly which has created so much angst in Britain when the country worries about the surreptitiously controlling influence Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon has on the UK economy.” Hauser argued that because Nvidia is one of more than 500 Arm licensees worldwide, becoming the Cambridge-based business’s parent company will destroy its “even-handed” model and ultimately kill the world-leading British tech firm. “Technology sovereignty is fast becoming the defining issue of the decade,” said Hauser. “Given the importance of our IT infrastructure, which is correctly compared with our water and electricity infrastructure, [the takeover] clearly relates to national security as well.” Hauser has previously said the government should use its powers to prevent the takeover but has also backed indefinite legally binding conditions as an alternative. These include a guarantee to keep Arm’s staff in Cambridge, Belfast, Manchester and Warwick and a promise that Nvidia does not get preferential treatment on new versions of the designer’s chips. “The obvious and highly desirable alternative to the Nvidia deal is for the government to use its convening power to lead a syndicate of Arm licensees, UK pension funds and other instructions to take Arm public on the London Stock Exchange, New York stock exchange or Shanghai Star market and take a golden share so that we are never again in this invidious situation of having to fight to keep our own UK technology assets,” he said. Hauser has also said that holding on to a genuinely world-leading company such as Arm would give the UK a powerful weapon in post-Brexit trade talks. SoftBank acquired Arm for $32bn in 2016 as the Japanese technology firm took advantage of the fall in value of the pound after the Brexit vote. Hauser said he sold his shares in Arm as part of the Softbank deal so could “freely speak my mind” about the Nvidia takeover. Source
  16. There’s a big difference between getting developers to write apps for a mobile platform that sells in huge volumes versus a completely unproven platform with no users. On Tuesday, at its third event in as many months, Apple is expected to announce the first models of Mac computers running on Apple Silicon, the in-house-designed SoC that will enable the transition from Intel to Arm-based architecture. There've been some rumors about the potential form factors of these Brave New Macs -- at least two MacBook models are expected. However, we don't know a great deal about the configuration of the actual chips that will power the machines. How fast do they clock? How many cores? How much cache? What else might be sitting on the die that distinguishes them from the A14 Bionic chips powering the latest generation iPhones and iPads? We have no idea. And I'd rather not speculate on these things because, frankly, I feel the actual horsepower of these chips is the least important aspect of the entire architectural transition. We expect the first generation of Apple Silicon to be quite fast -- I have no doubt Cupertino has designed chips that not only match the raw performance of the current-generation Intel Macs but exceed them entirely. The real challenge that Apple faces with these first-generation Silicon Macs will be the availability of native applications that exploit the new architecture, which will compel the existing userbase to switch to the new machines from the systems they already have. For early adopters, the first generation Apple Silicon-based systems will certainly have no lack of software to run on them. That's because Big Sur, aka MacOS 11, has been provided with multiple emulation and runtime capabilities that address several types of end-user scenarios and will permit virtually all of the App Store applications for iOS and the Mac, respectively, to function. The first is Rosetta, which enables x86-based Mac apps to be translated to Arm-based instructions on the fly. At WWDC, over the summer, Apple publicly demonstrated some large creative and business apps, as well as resource-intensive games running on this layer. However, there hasn't been a lot of information on how well the vast majority of emulated applications run. Only developers who have received the Device Transition Kit (DTL) know for sure -- under nondisclosure -- how the software they are porting functions on the A12Z-based systems. Nobody has been allowed to benchmark these legacy apps on Apple Silicon for fear of reprisal. Developers willing to discuss this tell me most of the apps, with few exceptions, now run fine on Rosetta, but they don't necessarily run faster. That's fine for software support purposes as we wait for the balance of apps to be ported to native code, but it's not a compelling reason to switch to the new machines if you've got perfectly good Intel systems running your Mac workloads today. Similarly, Big Sur also can run iPhone and iPad apps natively. But the App Store for iOS and iPadOS is largely consumer-focused. While some business iPad apps exist, such as Microsoft's own 365, or Adobe's Creative Cloud, most of them aren't nearly as robust as their Mac desktop counterparts written for x86. There's no doubt that thousands of iPad apps are going to work out of the box on Apple Silicon from day one. That's a simple matter of the individual developers clicking on a check button to publish them to the Mac App Store and doing a relatively small amount of testing to make sure they work as they are supposed to, unaltered. But those are not going to be a substitute for the full-blown desktop apps, many of which are written using Apple's Cocoa framework and Objective-C in XCode. Those will take a much longer time to port to native 64-bit Arm code, depending on which libraries are used to build them on the Intel platform. I include Apple's own Pro Apps Bundle (Final Cut Pro X, Logic Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4, Mainstage 3) in this group as well. Additionally, running iPad apps in a window will hardly take advantage of all the new system hardware or screen real estate. Sure, we want to see them because there are many iPad and iPhone apps that can fill functionality gaps, and yes, we need them for transitional purposes. But it's not the accelerant that the new Macs will require, at least to attract a large userbase immediately. So while we wait for these big, complex Cocoa apps to be ported, what do we need to hold us over? Well, that would be Catalyst. Catalyst is a set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) developers will use to rapidly port iPad apps to Apple Silicon and fully take advantage of the new machines' new capabilities. That includes all of the native user interface components of macOS, the increased numbers of threads and cores, the expanded memory, all of that. Not only does it work for Apple Silicon Mac apps, but it also can be used to produce Intel Mac apps for systems that can run Big Sur. That's good news for those of us who own late-model Mac Intel systems. Apple already demonstrated this with their News App, Apple Maps, Stocks, Voice Memos, Music, and also Messages, which is built into Big Sur. Twitter has also used it to port its iOS and iPad app to the Mac desktop. Long-term, Catalyst will be the unifying API in which developers will write all apps for Apple devices. It provides a framework that allows an app for iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS to be created from a single unified codebase. That is potentially huge because it allows developers to consolidate all of their efforts instead of having parallel development teams that may not have codebases in sync with each other on features, bug fixes, etc. All of this sounds great, in theory -- turn an iPad app into a full-blown Mac app with a minimum of fuss. So, where are these apps? Well, right now, short of Twitter and Apple's own stuff built into beta versions of Big Sur, there aren't many of them yet. Now, it's possible that thousands of developers with (and without) DTK systems are furiously porting their iPad applications to Apple Silicon/Intel Big Sur apps. Still, we can't know just how many Catalyst apps there will be on the new Apple Silicon Macs. They just haven't shown up in the Mac App Store on Big Sur yet. Apple really needs to marshal its forces to get developers excited and motivated for the transition. Yes, the change to Apple Silicon is exciting in principle because it's a major shift and allows the company to do some truly exciting things with its hardware. But there's a big difference between getting developers to write apps for iPhones and iPads that sell in huge volumes and exist in a population of over 700 million devices versus a completely unproven platform with no users yet. Even the Intel Mac only has maybe a 100 million systems in operation, and a good portion of them cannot run Big Sur, either. After years of speculation, the age of the Brave New Mac is finally upon us. But will it be a big bang of a launch, with a large population of older systems displaced by the new machines in the first year or two of use, or is it going to be a slow burn, with native apps coming in slow dribs and drabs? Is Catalyst going to be what truly places the Apple Silicon Mac into prime time? Talk Back and Let Me Know. Source
  17. Arm has launched a CPU monster that will get Intel and AMD very worried Designed to power the next-gen always-on portables (Image credit: Future) Arm has just announced the Arm Cortex-A78C CPU, which can support up to eight cores and eight MB of cache to meet compute-intensive workloads. What makes the announcement even more noteworthy is that it comes days before Apple will unveil its first batch of three Arm-powered laptops at its ‘One More Thing’ event on November 10. The newly announced CPU is Arms first serious contender in the high-performance CPU market, currently dominated by Intel and AMD. The Arm Cortex-A78C is part of the Cortex-A78 family of CPUs that Arm unveiled earlier this year in May 2020. But while the A78 was pitched for mobile devices, the A78C is designed specifically for high-performance, always-on devices such as laptops. Winds of change The previously announced Cortex-A78 followed the conventional Big.LITTLE standard for mobile CPUs with support for configurations with 4 big CPU cores and 4 little CPU cores. Now, in a departure from the norm, the new Cortex-A78C supports configurations with up to 8 big CPU cores. According to Arm this makes the Cortex-A78C more suitable for scalable multi-threaded workloads such as immersive gaming on-the-go, à la Oculus Rift. Furthermore, the Cortex-A78C also supports up to 8MB L3 cache and can run eight threads in parallel. Arm claims this makes it perfectly suitable for the upcoming generation of laptops that will compete with tablets in both form factor and longevity. Note that Arm itself doesn’t manufacture and sell its own CPUs, but rather licenses them to third-party companies. With Apple all set to ditch Intel, it shouldn’t be long before other device manufacturers come swarming to Arm. Arm has launched a CPU monster that will get Intel and AMD very worried
  18. Leaked Apple ARM CPU benchmark beats Intel Core i9 16-inch MacBook Pro The A14X Bionic looks mighty impressive (Image credit: Future) A newly leaked benchmark shows Apple's ARM-based A14X Bionic processor outperforming an Intel i9-powered MacBook Pro by a healthy margin. The new chip is expected to debut on November 10 during Apple's "One More Thing" event. An unnamed device powered by the A14X Bionic chip was reportedly benchmarked in Geekbench 5, which was likely an engineering sample, according to Wccftech. In terms of single core performance, the A14X Bionic scored a 1634 and a 7220 in multi-core performance. This was slightly ahead of the iPad Air powered by the A14 Bionic, which scored a 1583 in single-core and a 4198 in multi-core. Meanwhile, the big coup for the A14X Bionic was how it outperformed a 16-inch MacBook Pro powered by an Intel Core i9 CPU, which scored a 1096 in single-core performance and a 6869 in multi-core, which is a good bit behind the new Apple silicon. titleLeaked Apple ARM CPU details show it beating Intel Core i9 16-inch MacBook Pro More details revealed about Apple's A14X Bionic CPU The new benchmark leak also reveals new details about Apple's new silicon. For one, the new A14X Bionic appears to be an eight-core processor, with a base clock of 1.80GHz, boostable to 3.10GHz. This is the first time that an A-series CPU has surpassed the 3.0GHz threshold, so it's shaping up to be a powerful processor in its own right, even if its still far behind the clock speeds of the latest Intel and AMD processors. Hopefully we'll learn more about the A14X Bionic itself during the November 10 event, though Apple is typically light on the technical details during their shows so it remains to be seen. Still, it's an exciting development and we'll be sure to keep on top of all the latest details in the days ahead. Leaked Apple ARM CPU benchmark beats Intel Core i9 16-inch MacBook Pro
  19. Apple’s new ARM-based Macs won’t support Windows through Boot Camp It’s up to Microsoft to change that Apple will start switching its Macs to its own ARM-based processors later this year, but you won’t be able to run Windows in Boot Camp mode on them. Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to PC makers to preinstall on new hardware, and the company hasn’t made copies of the operating system available for anyone to license or freely install. “Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. We asked Microsoft if it plans to change this policy to allow Boot Camp on ARM-based Macs, and the company says “we have nothing further to share at this time.” Apple has been working closely with Microsoft to ensure Office is ready for ARM-based Macs later this year, but the company didn’t mention its lack of Boot Camp support at WWDC. It’s possible that both companies are still working toward some sort of support, but that would require Microsoft to open up its Windows 10 on ARM licensing more broadly. VMWare Fushion. Other methods to run Windows on ARM-based Macs could include virtualization using apps like VMWare or Parallels, but these won’t be supported by Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation technology. Virtual machine apps will need to be fully rebuilt for ARM-based Macs, and it’s not immediately clear if that’s even a workable solution or whether VMWare, Parallels, and others will commit to building these apps. VMWare has asked its community about how they would use its Fusion virtualization on ARM-based Macs, but there’s no commitment to building the app just yet. So the Windows situation on ARM-based Macs looks complicated at best and impossible at worst. The best hope is that Microsoft changes its strict licensing model for ARM-based Macs, but it would still require Apple to create Windows on ARM drivers for its future Mac hardware. Given the small percentage of macOS users that actually use Boot Camp and the roughly 100 million install base of Macs, running Windows 10 on ARM natively on Apple’s ARM-based Macs isn’t something we’re likely to see anytime soon or maybe ever at all. Apple’s new ARM-based Macs won’t support Windows through Boot Camp
  20. Apple plans to announce ARM transition for all Macs at WWDC 2020 Report claims internal Apple testing has seen “sizable improvements” over Intel. Apple discusses the 2018 iPad Pro's A12X CPU and GPU on stage at its October 30, 2018 event. Valentina Palladino 241 with 136 posters participating At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) later this month, Apple plans to announce the beginning of its transition from Intel-based Macs to ARM-based ones with internally designed CPUs, according to a report from Bloomberg. The report comes from Mark Gurman, who has had a generally good track record on reporting the internal workings of Apple and cites "people familiar with the plans." The sources say that Apple is working on at least three different systems-on-a-chip for Macs. The first would be based on the A14, a processor planned for the new iPhone models coming later in 2020. The Mac processors would be manufactured by Apple partner TSMC “using a 5-nanometer production technique.” The project is codenamed Kalamata within Apple's walls. WWDC begins on June 22. For the first time in its history, it will be an online-only event this year—a result of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bloomberg report notes twice that world events and other factors make it possible Apple will delay the announcement. But the company's leadership wants to share the plans at WWDC if possible as a way to give Mac software developers ample time to adjust to the change, which is expected to begin with the launch of the first ARM Mac hardware in 2021. Apple last made a major transition in architecture when it moved from PowerPC processors to Intel ones in 2006, and it adopted a similar strategy of giving developers significant notice and providing tools for the change. As was the case between PowerPC and Intel, differences between Intel and ARM processors are substantial and will require developers to make changes to their apps. Bloomberg's sources clarified that the ARM Macs will continue to run macOS, not a branch of the iOS or iPadOS software used in ARM-based iPhones and iPads. That said, Apple began seriously planning the transition for Macs after it successfully adapted an iPad Pro processor for internal testing with Macs in 2018. Apple has already started blurring the lines between iPadOS and macOS software in its developer initiatives. It introduced Catalyst, a framework for easily porting iPad apps to the Mac, last year. But most developers see Catalyst as a stopgap for companies that already have iPad apps before the ultimate plan gains momentum—that ultimate plan seems to be SwiftUI, a framework for developing apps for multiple Apple operating systems side by side. Testing of ARM-based Mac chips at Apple has produced "sizable improvements" compared to Intel chips in graphics and AI performance. The new chips are also more power-efficient, which Apple could use either to improve battery life or produce thinner, lighter laptops—or whatever combination of the two it deems desirable. The shift would also free Apple from the shackles of Intel's development roadmap, which has on more than one occasion stymied Apple's ability to release the products it wants to, when it wishes to. Further, Apple might no longer have to introduce secondary chips like the T2 security chip; it could put much or all of the silicon it wants on the system-on-chip, including a counterpart to its proprietary machine learning and AI processors from the iPhone and iPad, which currently have no peer in Macs. All Macs will make the change Rumors and reports have circulated about Apple's plan to move to its own ARM-based Mac chips for years, but onlookers have been divided in their predictions about which Macs would make that transition. Some have suggested that ARM chips are ideal for a laptop like the MacBook Air but that Apple would at least initially forgo introducing ARM to the iMac Pro or Mac Pro, since third-party software support from companies like Adobe and Autodesk is essential for those machines' use cases. Others, though, have said Apple might start with the high-end desktops since performance matters most on those machines, and it could work with a small cabal of critical software companies directly to ease the transition. According to today's report, though, Apple plans to transition its entire line, from MacBooks to the Mac Pro—albeit not all at once. The report doesn't indicate which machines will hit the market first, only that Apple plans to bring this change to all Macs at some point. Bloomberg’s Gurman also notes that this shift is unlikely to drastically affect Intel's bottom line right away, as Macs only barely breach double-digit market share against other types of personal computers. But he speculates that the move might inspire other laptop manufacturers, who are prone to mimicking Apple in some products, to do the same—and that could make for a much bigger concern at Intel. Regardless of whether Apple moves forward with its ARM announcement plans, Cupertino will at a minimum introduce new versions of macOS, iPadOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS with “deeper integration of outside apps and services” (per Bloomberg) and expanded augmented reality features, as well as performance improvements. Rumors have also circulated about a new iMac model that may be introduced at the event. Apple plans to announce ARM transition for all Macs at WWDC 2020
  21. Microsoft close to emulating x64 code on ARM laptops Microsoft’s Windows 10 on ARM efforts are about to take another step, with evidence Microsoft is close to enabling the execution of 64bit code on Windows 10 on ARM laptops. Currently, ARM laptops use the WoW emulator designed to run Win32 code on x64 computers to run Win32 code on ARM64 code, but that neat hack, unfortunately, means 64bit Windows applications are simply not supported on Windows 10 on ARM laptops. Now a recent GitHub commit noticed by twitter account Longhorn explicitly mentions support for x64 code emulation on ARM64. The architecture will reportedly be called ARM64EC, for x64_64 on ARM64 machine types. The commit dates to March 2020 and was made by Kenny Kerr, Engineer on the Windows team at Microsoft. A year ago it was not clear if Microsoft will be enabling x64 app emulation on Windows 10 on ARM, with Microsoft encouraging developers to recompile their applications to ARM64 instead. It is therefore good news that Microsoft is indeed succeeding, allowing ARM laptops the become more competitive with Intel devices. Via Walkingcat Source: Microsoft close to emulating x64 code on ARM laptops (MSPoweruser)
  22. Arm introduces next-gen Cortex-A78 and Mali-G78 chips, plus the custom Cortex-X Every year around this time, British technology company Arm introduces the next generation of ARM-based processors, and this year is no different. Today, the company introduced the Cortex-A78 CPU and the Mali-G78 GPU, but the most interesting announcement might be the Cortex-X custom program. Starting with the Cortex-A78, it's the sort of upgrade you'd expect at this point, with Arm calling it the most efficient Cortex-A CPU ever. It promises a 20% increase in sustained performance over the Cortex-A77, which is found on most flagship phones this year, and it does so without using significantly more power. Arm says the chip will enable "multi-day, immersive 5G experiences". If that's not enough, though, Arm is introducing a brand new line of Cortex CPUs, called Cortex-X. The goal with Cortex-X is to allow manufacturers to customize the processor in more ways, potentially enabling some of these solutions to go even further in performance. The first CPU in this line is the Cortex-X1, and Arm says it's the most powerful Cortex CPU ever, promising a 30% increase in peak performance over the Cortex-A77. Moving on to GPUs, there's the new Mali-G78, the second generation of GPUs based on the company's Valhall architecture. Arm says the new GPU promises 25% more performance compared to last year's offering, which is significant considering that GPU already offered a 40% increase in performance over the previous generation. The new Mali-G78 GPU supports up to 24 cores, and Arm says it's also more efficient and could deliver better battery life. Arm is also introducing a sub-premium line of GPUs, starting with the new Mali-G68. It supports up to 8 cores and has all of the enhancements of the Mali-G78, which include improved tilers, asynchronous top level, and improved fragment dependency tracking. Finally, there's a new Neural Processing Unit, or NPU, the Ethos-N78. It promises enhanced on-device machine learning and up to a 25% improvement in performance efficiency. It's also configurable, with configurations ranging from 1 TOP/s to 10 TOP/s. The new products should be at the heart of flagship phones in 2021. Source: Arm introduces next-gen Cortex-A78 and Mali-G78 chips, plus the custom Cortex-X (Neowin)
  23. Google is working with Qualcomm to brings ARM capabilities to Chrome. Doing so would dent Microsoft Edge as the browser continues to battle Chrome’s dominance. Over the last year, Microsoft has been working with chip giant Qualcomm on Windows 10 on ARM. The idea is to make PCs more affordable by blending the best aspects of desktop computing and mobile tech. Now, Google is once again challenging Microsoft directly with its own ARM integration for Chrome desktops. Windows 10 on ARM has had mixed results so far, not least because Microsoft’s app issues are ever present. While Snapdragon-powered laptops can handle native Windows apps easily, it struggles with third-party solutions. That’s because the processor must run these apps in an emulator, slogging the CPU and slowing performance. Google believes it has the answer by porting Chrome on Snapdragon-powered laptops. The company is working directly with Qualcomm on the implementation. The result could mean optimal performance for all apps on ARM-based PCs. This does little to hamper Microsoft’s own Windows 10 on ARM push. Not least because Qualcomm is developing more powerful dedicated laptop Snapdragon chips for Windows. However, for Microsoft Edge, Google’s involvement in ARM is a problem. Microsoft has been trying to bring more users to its browser and while disconnects to the ARM push, Google integrating ARM with Google makes its browser even more appealing. Speaking to Android Authority, Qualcomm’s senior director of product management Miquel Nunes confirmed the companies are working together: “We are. We’re still working with the different OEMs and designs. I expect you’ll see it probably around (the) second half of next year. Every OEM will decide whatever their launch timeline is, but we’re actively working on it.” Browser Conundrum Microsoft is in a strange place with its Microsoft Edge browser. It is a situation that is similar to the battle the company engages in with Google for search dominance. Google Search is the dominant market leader and Bing is a distant second. This is despite Microsoft’s various improvements to make Bing a potent alternative. It’s an analogous situation in the browser arena. Microsoft Edge has scored plenty of neat features and is definitely an interesting alternative to Google Chrome. However, Chrome remains dominant. Of course, that’s largely because Google continues to at least match Microsoft’s features step for step. It’s worth mentioning the one difference between search and browser is Bing was never the market leader. It’s easy to forget that Microsoft until recently controlled the browser market with Internet Explorer. Source
  24. Report: ARM is for sale and Nvidia’s interested, Apple isn’t Who will buy one of the world’s most widespread chip designers? Enlarge Arm 95 with 73 posters participating Hey, you! Do you want to control the future of basically every mobile device on Earth, and even some laptops and desktops? Have I got a deal for you! ARM Limited is for sale, the company in charge of the ubiquitous ARM CPU architecture that powers the majority of devices that run on a battery. It will only cost a few tens of billions of dollars. Bloomberg has two reports on the matter, one stating that Nvidia is interested in buying ARM and another saying that Apple isn't. ARM is currently owned by SoftBank group, a giant Japanese holding company previously featured on Ars for buying Boston Dynamics, buying Sprint, and buying stakes in Uber and GM's Cruise. SoftBank bought ARM for $32 billion in 2016, and since then, ARM has only gotten more powerful. ARM doesn't manufacture chips; instead, it sells IP based on the ARM CPU architecture in the form of its in-house Cortex CPU designs or licenses to design whatever you want using ARM's instruction set. In 2016, SoftBank described ARM as its prized possession, with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son describing it as “the center of the center of SoftBank.” In the coronavirus era, SoftBank has been hit hard by the tanking valuations of Uber and WeWork, along with the bankruptcy of OneWeb, and now it's willing to sell ARM to raise money. As for SoftBank and Apple, Bloomberg says, "The two firms had preliminary discussions, but Apple isn’t planning to pursue a bid. Arm’s licensing operation would fit poorly with Apple’s hardware-focused business model. There may also be regulatory concerns about Apple owning a key licensee that supplies so many rivals." Apple's situation is probably the case for most companies with an attachment to ARM. ARM is so widespread that buying it will be a regulatory nightmare, and even the most lenient rubber-stamp regulators around the world must shudder at the idea of an existing ARM licensee buying ARM. Apple is famously transitioning its entire Mac lineup from Intel to in-house ARM chips, and it has the cash to buy ARM. Would any government approve Apple gaining that much power over the Android ecosystem, though? Qualcomm is another company closely tied to ARM, but it is already a convicted monopolist in many countries thanks to its power over the modem and ARM SoC market for smartphones. Google has the cash, too, but it already makes regulators nervous thanks to its control over the smartphone industry via Android. SoftBank was a great home for ARM since it let the company be neutral—SoftBank didn't make devices or sell chips. Many companies with an interest in ARM would create a huge conflict of interest. Nvidia is an ARM licensee, but it is not a major competitor in the smartphone industry. Nvidia's chips are sold on the strength of its GPUs, and the company's biggest design wins (really, you could say "only design wins") are the Nintendo Switch, the AR-focused Magic Leap headset, and its own Nvidia Shield Android TV box. With it being mostly shut out of the mobile SoC market by Qualcomm, Nvidia has started to focus on car hardware. The company's latest SoC is called "Orion" and seems exclusively designed for self-driving cars, where its strong GPUs can assist in all sorts of computer vision compute. With such a small chunk of the market, Nvidia might be one of the few ARM licensees that could squeak by regulatory approval. If Nvidia doesn't pull the trigger and ARM does prove "too big to buy," there are some other options. The original "ARM is for sale" report from The Wall Street Journal mentioned that "it is possible SoftBank will ultimately choose to do nothing" and figure out a different way to deal with its money issues. The idea of an IPO for ARM has also been floated by SoftBank in the past, and this solution would also solve the regulatory issues surrounding the sale to a tech company. Report: ARM is for sale and Nvidia’s interested, Apple isn’t
  25. Nvidia is reportedly in ‘advanced talks’ to buy ARM for more than $32 billion ARM could be getting a new owner SoftBank has been rumored to be exploring a sale of ARM — the British chip designer that powers nearly every major mobile processor from companies like Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and Huawei — and now, it might have found a buyer. Nvidia is reportedly in “advanced talks” to buy ARM in a deal worth over $32 billion, according to Bloomberg. Nvidia is said to be the only company that’s involved in concrete discussions with SoftBank for the purchase at this time, and a deal could arrive “in the next few weeks,” although nothing is finalized yet. If the deal does go through, it would be one of the largest deals ever in the computer chip business and would likely draw intense regulatory scrutiny. SoftBank bought ARM in 2016 for $31 billion, and ARM has only grown in value since then as its designs have become more and more integral to Android and iOS devices alike. Microsoft already makes an ARM-based Surface and a version of Windows designed for ARM; Apple also recently announced that it would be switching its Mac computers over to ARM-based chipsets in the latest boon for the company. As SoftBank looks to pay off its growing pile of debt in order to appease uneasy investors, a sale of ARM at its peak could help bolster the Japanese technology conglomerate’s finances. Nvidia would make an interesting owner for ARM — while the company is the leader for GPUs (which ARM also designs), it has little to do with CPU design or mobile hardware outside of its Tegra line of mobile chipsets (most famously used by the Nintendo Switch and the Nvidia Shield line of set-top boxes), which actually are based on ARM designs. Owning ARM would give Nvidia far more power over the broader computing world and likely trigger some heavy scrutiny from regulators, given that Nvidia is a customer of ARM, which competes with other companies that also rely on ARM’s designs. Nvidia is reportedly in ‘advanced talks’ to buy ARM for more than $32 billion
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