Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

My, Look at ARM’s Healthy Sales

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As if you needed another indicator about how much the old Wintel world of PCs has flipped in the last couple of years, take a look at the earnings results of the British chip designer ARM, which just reported quarterly earnings this morning.

Sales rose by 29 percent year on year to north of 170 million pounds (or $260 million), which was better than expected. Earnings on a per-share basis were five pence versus the expected four pence, amounting to a beat of a penny per share. Its shares are rising by 9 percent both in the U.K. and on the Nasdaq in the U.S.

ARM, you’ll recall, is the company behind the designs that go into building the chips that land in most smartphones and tablets. Rather than make the chips, ARM licenses its blueprints to companies like Qualcomm, Broadcom and Nvidia, which then make their own chips. And since phones and tablets are growing a lot faster than traditional PCs (come to think of it, PCs actually aren’t growing at all), ARM is looking a lot healthier than traditional chip companies like Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Here’s a pretty good indicator: Royalty payments for processors rose in the quarter by 33 percent versus a processor industry that’s up about 2 percent.

ARM is quickly turning out to be the company to watch in the chip space. Chips sporting ARM designs are everywhere these days, and there has been a lot of chatter of late about them heading into the data center.

Hewlett-Packard offers ARM processors as an option on its radical new server design, called Project Moonshot. Dell offers ARM-based servers, too, and there are even more plans for ARM chips in servers. I talked with CEO Warren East about this last year. (East is retiring this summer, by the way, and Simon Segars will be ARM’s new CEO, starting in July.)

The basic argument that ARM makes coming in is that its chips are good at managing power consumption, in part because they were designed from the beginning for mobile applications. And power consumption continues to be a huge problem, especially in data centers where thousands of servers are crowded together in one place.

Intel, the king of the chip world, has responded and created its own line of low-power chips called Atom. And as we learned from Mike Bell, head of Intel’s mobile chip business at D: Dive Into Mobile last week, it has gotten off to a slow start but is starting to get a little traction in mobile.

Another version of Atom, announced the week before last, will also defend Intel’s interests in the server space. But keep an eye on this, because there’s eventually going to be a rumble.


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