Archive for the ‘ IP & CAD ’ Category

Multiple cores power fifth generation of TIs OMAP

Multiple cores power fifth generation of TIs OMAP.

Texas Instruments’ believes its  OMAP 5 platform is expected to change the concept of ‘mobile’ by driving disruptive mobile computing experiences providing stereoscopic 3D, gesture recognition and computational photography based on multi-core processing, including ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processors

The 28 nanometer OMAP 5 applications processors carry on the OMAP family tradition of delivering increases in performance and functionality, while lowering power consumption compared to their predecessors. They offer up to 3x processing performance and five-fold 3D graphics improvement, provide a nearly 60 percent average power reduction compared to a sample user experience on the OMAP 4 platform.

The OMAP 5 platform’s software is designed for maximum reuse to ease migration from the OMAP 4 platform.

The OMAP 5 processor uses two ARM Cortex-A15 MPCores capable of speeds of up to 2 GHz per core in the OMAP 5 implementation. The 50 percent boost in performance over the Cortex-A9 core (at the same clock frequency), is combined with up to 8GB of dynamic memory access and hardware virtualization support.

In addition to the two Cortex-A15 cores, the OMAP 5 processor includes individual, dedicated engines for: video, imaging and vision, DSP, 3D graphics, 2D graphics, display and security.

The processor also includes two ARM Cortex-M4 processors for offloading real-time processing from the Cortex-A15 cores to improve low-level control and responsiveness of mobile devices.

The OMAP 5 processor can support up to four cameras in parallel, as well as record and play back S3D video in 1080p quality, and perform real-time conversion of 2D content to S3D at 1080p resolution. The processor can also deliver advanced short- and long-range gesturing applications, as well as full-body and multi-body interactive gestures, utilizing either 2D or S3D cameras.

The OMAP 5 processor, coupled with a TI DLP Pico projector and a camera, can also enable interactive projection where the user can actually “touch and drag” projected images on both a table top or wall.

Additionally, the OMAP 5 processor can interface with and leverage a variety of sensor technologies to enable touchless sensing, such as proximity sensing, capacitive sensing and ultrasonic sensing.

The OMAP 5 processor includes hardware and software resources that enable the development and deployment of computational algorithms to improve picture and video quality from  built-in cameras. These provide camera stabilization, motion blur reduction, noise reduction, high dynamic range and face-based processing.

The latest processor goes a step further by using the same OMAP 5 hardware resources with vision algorithms to extract features and data from the picture, in order to implement applications such as face recognition, object recognition and text recognition. These vision capabilities can also be used as the foundation for augmented reality applications.


TI’s OMAP 5 platform is expected to sample in the second half of 2011, with devices on the market in the second half of 2012. The OMAP5430 processor is offered in a 14x14mm package-on-package  with LPDDR2 memory support.  The OMAP5432 processor is offered in a 17x17mm BGA package with DDR3/DDR3L memory support.  These products are intended for high-volume mobile OEMs and ODMs and are not available through distributors.

TI also plans to develop compatible ARM Cortex-A15 processor-based solutions for broader market applications across TI’s product portfolio.

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Analyst: Intel to break ARM

Analyst: Intel to break ARM.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – ARM Holdings plc and Intel Corp. are on a collision course.

ARM’s technology has dominated the mobile processor business. Intel has a near monopoly on the traditional PC and server markets. 

Now, ARM and its partners—Marvell, Nvidia and others-want a piece of the traditional computer segments. And Intel is looking to make inroads in the mobile, tablet PC and related segments dominated by ARM.

The winner? Intel, according to one analyst. But clearly, the chip giant faces some major challenges, as it did not have the ”best of CESs (Consumer Electronic Show), which is remarkable given that the company may very well have launched the most powerful CPU family in decades:  Sandy Bridge,” said Hans Mosesmann, an analyst with Raymond James & Associates Inc., in a report.

”The issue of course for Intel is that CES 2011 is all about Android, tablets, and smartphones, which the Street tends to not associate with Intel. Oh, and that punch-in-the-gut commentary by Microsoft that its next generation Windows O/S will support ARM processors in addition to x86,’’ he said.

”First, there is no way around this. The fact that consumers can buy a Windows-based notebook a couple years down the road based on an Intel or AMD x86, or a TI or Nvidia ARM SoC is just not good news on its own despite our view that x86 will easily outperform an ARM core,’’ he said.

”On this note, the bottom line is can Intel penetrate the tablet/smartphone market enough to offset ARM encroachment in its mainstream notebook domain? Our view is yes in the mid-term as the company has a good head start: Android tablets/smartphones based on x86 in 2011 will easily sport double-digit performance advantages over ARM solutions running Android inasmuch as that is the metric of choice,’’ he said. 

”Also, look for Intel to have a cost advantage veres ARM SoCs (System on a Chip) given the company’s one to two node process advantage,’’ he added. ”Longer term, Intel has its challenges and 2011 will go a long way in helping to answer if Intel is up to the task.’

EETimes.com – Who’ll provide the power behind the mainstream business tablet?

EETimes.com – Who’ll provide the power behind the mainstream business tablet?.

I recently got An iPad to try as part of our analysis work on the Apple tablet, and it is becoming apparent to me that devices of this class will grow to be as popular as the current crop of e-mail-enabled smartphones.

Today we all carry our BlackBerries from meeting to meeting. Soon we’ll be

toting far more powerful devices-ones that will be at home in the netbook’s current market space while also performing some of the tasks now assigned to laptops.

The emerging platforms-including tablets that can be docked to a keyboard and clamshell designs with two screens, such as the MSI prototypes demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show-promise to revolutionize electronic support of collaborative work.

Several questions about these devices come to mind. Who will own the major sockets once tablets enter the mainstream? Whose CPU will be the go-to processor for powering such a device-will it be Intel’s Atom, or will ARM find its cores in use? Which companies and technologies should we be watching?

When I got the iPad, Acer’s Aspire One netbook had already been collecting dust in my desk drawer for more than a year. I had never made good use of the Acer netbook; the screen felt small and clumsy, with its Windows panels and other accessories, and even for casual Web browsing, I preferred my larger laptop.

The iPad manages screen real estate much more carefully. The ability to rotate the screen to find the right orientation for the task at hand is a great feature; combined with Apple’s famous interface to pan and zoom via touchscreen finger gestures, it allows me to browse almost as comfortably as I can when using my 24-inch desktop monitor.

But would the iPad have enough power to enable me to work with business applications, which nowadays are predominantly Web-based? To determine this, I ran some software-based system testing.

I first pointed the iPad to the well-known SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, a test designed to measure a browser’s JavaScript execution performance. The tablet executed the test in 10.2 seconds.

I then ran the same test on the Aspire One, and the result was 20.7 seconds. Disappointing, considering that the Atom N270 used n the Aspire One is still found in plenty of netbooks, and, according to CPUBenchmark.net, the modern Z and N series CPUs for netbooks and mobile Internet devices are pretty much comparable to the N270.

Next, I ran Google’s V8 test suite and got an even bigger difference.

Whereas SunSpider code measures the cumulative time to run the test, the Google V8 test suite computes the inverse of the geometric mean of multiple test components. Essentially, the SunSpider test measures “how slow,” while the Google V8 test measures “how fast.” For the V8 test, the more points, the better. The iPad scored 97.8 points and the Aspire One a mere 21.6.

The intimal tests on the Aspire One were done using the default Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. I subsequently installed Apple’s Safari on the Acer device, and the netbook sped up like a Ferrari: The SunSpider test took a mere 2.8 seconds, and Google V8 scored 446 points.

At the end of the day, the Aspire One is more than four times faster than the iPad, provided you change the default IE browser to Safari or something comparable; otherwise, the Acer netbook is two times slower than the Apple tablet.

Considering both benchmarking results and the browsing experience, the Atom-powered netbook with default IE8 has severe performance limitations when using rich Web applications, while the ARM-powered iPad is quite adequate with Safari. The Atom processor’s speed advantage seems to be lost as soon as you run certain Microsoft software on it (.net and IE).

Indeed, for Web applications the IE engine is substantially slower than virtually anything else on the market. Microsoft has promised to improve the speed in IE9. But the increase might come at the expense of other features, such as security.

I also ported Netlib’s Whetstone and Dhrystone to the iPhone software development kit and to Microsoft Visual Studio. For the Microsoft platform, I compiled them both into .net and native code. Dhrystone is a fixed-point test; Whetstone focuses on floating-point. In modern computing, serious number crunching ought to be done in optimized primitives libraries (vector operations, compression, image and voice coding, BLAS, cryptography, XML parsing, regular expression parsing and the like), so I used single precision for the Whetstone test. The results are shown in the table below.

An interesting benchmark published in IEEE Journal suggests the recent ARM-based Tegra 2 outperforms recent Atoms.

Benchmarking is good, but today two things matter more in terms of performance: the speed of primitives, and the speed of bytecode (potentially, JITcompiled) written in Java, C#, Python, Perl or Flash (increasingly used to drive business logic and tie together primitives in multimedia application and games).

The Apple SDK provides for native, noninterpreted code using a rapid application development (RAD) environment, whereas on most other platforms (Android, Windows, webOS, Google applications), RAD normally involves some sort of bytecode. The two noticeable exceptions are the QT library, currently owned by Nokia, and Apple’s SDK. This is why code compiled in Apple’s RAD tool outperforms code produced by Microsoft’s RAD tool.

Nonetheless, my feeling is that bytecode will still be the choice for the majority of business logic. It will be interesting to compare the performance of the ThumbEE/Jazelle-enabled ARM platform with a recent Atom for Java and .net (for Atom only). I believe that ARM received a major competitive advantage through its years of work on bytecode acceleration (Jazelle) and JIT execution (ThumbEE).

On the primitives side, Intel’s open-source OpenCV and threading building blocks are widely used. Intel has the outstanding Integrated Performance Primitives, Math Kernel Libraryand XML Parsing Accelerator, but the blocks are not part of any popular development platform; each must be purchased separately.

When we develop for the Intel platform, we want the code to be compatible not only with Intel processors, but with others (such as those from AMD and Via Technologies) as well. In order to leverage the platform fully, Intel or and Microsoft must take the lead, standardize an accelerated primitives API across IA-32/IA-64 platforms and make sure that it is available in all deployments and development tools.

The only primitives library for ARM that I am aware of is Accelerate, from the upcoming Apple iPhone SDK 4.0. In my view, ARM has a small-investment/big-payout opportunity. It can provide the development community with a comprehensive set of accelerated primitives, aligned with different levels of ARM CPUs currently deployed.

Further, ARM should play a more active role in the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) project, which is essential for the ARM development ecosystem.

The sooner ARM realizes that it needs to cater not just to the OEMs that license its cores but to the development community and tool-chain ecosystem at large, the faster it can protect its “phone and below” market dominance while expanding toward mobile Internet devices and tablets.

At this point, it is hard to predict whether ARM or Intel will prevail in powering the mainstream tablet market. In addition to performance and power consumption, business factors as well as the overall ecosystem are going to play a substantial role in the outcome.

I believe both ARM and Intel should give more focus to the overall ecosystem (accelerated primitives, effective compilers capable of using extended instruction sets, standard APIs for power management, multicore performance) if they hope to fully leverage the technologies already implemented in silicon.

==================

iPad will not replace blackberry, as tablet like iPad lacks one key feature. Pocketability.  If you cannot pocket, you’ll not carry along. iPad in blackberry size means iPhone or Android smartphone. Maybe future business fashion embraces extra large pocket on belly to “pocket” iPad.

iPad, however, could replace netbook. What I noticed though these days is that clamshell type is actually more convenient sometimes.  Sleek design combining clamshell and tablet would be ideal for me.

For those devices that replace netbook and possibly work with main laptop for business use, Wintel will win in this domain. I don’t want to  buy all separate software for my office documents.

If MS certifies ARM that window can function perfectly on ARM, then it would be different story.

Now Intel works Android. Why not MS work on ARM?

EETimes.com – Dell, IBM give thumbs up to ARM servers

EETimes.com – Dell, IBM give thumbs up to ARM servers.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dell Inc. will test this summer multicore ARM processors from Marvell Technology Group for possible use in low-power servers for large data centers. The company has already shipped a few thousand low-power servers based on x86 processors from Taiwan’s Via Technologies Inc.Separately, an executive from IBM Corp. said Big Blue backs the trend toward new low power architectures for servers. But he declined to give any specifics about what, if anything, it is doing with ARM chips.

The OEMs are among the latest to declare their interest in ARM-based servers for applications constrained by power budgets that don’t need the muscle—or cost—of Intel x86 systems. One of the main target markets are large data centers such as those run by Web 2.0 companies such as Facebook.

“We’ve been all over this,” said Paul Prince, chief technology officer for Dell’s enterprise products group. “About a year and a half ago, we put a LAMP [Linux, Apache, MySQL and Python] stack on an ARM A8 core,” in one test, said Prince.

About two years ago the company built for at least one large data center customer 5,000 or more custom servers using a notebook x86 chip from Via. “That was an early indicator that there was a market pull” for low-power servers, he said.

Dell’s next step will be to benchmark this summer a multicore ARM Cortex A9 based SoC aimed at servers from Marvell. Last week, Marvell said it will ship 40nm ARM-based server chips this year.

“There are a handful of pretty credible chip vendors—the Broadcoms and TIs are all working to sell their vision of this,” said Prince. “Marvell is at the top of the short list,” he added.

Broadcom has made no public statements about ARM servers. The market is still young and will initially be “mainly limited to Web and file servers,” said Simon Assouad, a senior product line manager in Broadcom’s Ethernet controller group

IBM would not reveal its plans, but Bernie Meyerson, an IBM fellow and vice president of innovation, said the company backs the trend to new low power architectures for servers.

Because the ARM server movement is based on Linux, “it is open source and IBM long ago endorsed the open movement,” said Meyerson. “We have probably shipped hundreds of thousands of products with ARMs in them already,” he added, referring to systems other than servers.

“The creation of yet another ecosystem won’t disrupt anyone who has the capability to use it,” he said. “If you can do your own designs, it’s a differentiator not a liability,” he added.

Meyerson predicted the rise of ARM servers would lead to a new generation of more optimized products.

“We’re going from an era of general purpose processors to application-specific processors, and now we will go from general-purpose computers to application-specific servers,” he said. “People will start to examine these machines and they will tend to be more appliance-like,” he added.

The trend to ARM-based servers mirrors what happened with IBM’s BlueGene supercomputer design, Meyerson said. IBM created a radically more powerful and less power hungry supercomputer with BlueGene by building a new system architecture around an array of simplified PowerPC 440 cores. For some time the BlueGene systems were ranked as the most powerful in the world.

EEE Journal for Netbooks and Mini Laptops: Benchmarks Atom vs iPad A4 vs iPhone 3GS ARM Cortex and much more…: Netbooks, EEE PC, MSI Wind, Aspire One and Akoya Resources.

EEE Journal for Netbooks and Mini Laptops: Benchmarks Atom vs iPad A4 vs iPhone 3GS ARM Cortex and much more…: Netbooks, EEE PC, MSI Wind, Aspire One and Akoya Resources..

With the iPad, Apple is creating a new type of device that got some similarities with the actual netbooks. It is known that the iPad got an Apple A4 processor clocked at 1GHz, it isn’t clear yet which type of ARM core is really used: Cortex A8, A9, a customized version? It is very interesting to understand how this new processor compare to other ARM processors (ARM11 in iPhone 3G and Cortex A8 in iPhone 3GS) and to the Intel Atom processors.
It is really tough to compare performance of CPU with different architecture, running different operating systems and especially targeting very different applications.
Since years ARM claims superior performance for the Cortex A8 and A9 compared to Intel Atom. Now I could not resist, especially because the benchmarking race started and I finally got a critical mass of benchmarking data on Atom vs ARM performance.

FBenchmark iPad vs iPhone vs Atom netbook CoreMark. Cortex A8 vs Cortex A9 vs Apple A4 vs Intel Atom vs Nvidia Tegra 2irst of all a clarification: here we talk about benchmarking of CPU cores, it has little to do with comparing performance of the iPhone vs iPad or iPad vs netbooks. If you want to compare two devices you have to find first a common use case and metrics to measure it, for example Anandtech published browsing benchmarks showing that ARM Cortex cores in iPhone 3GS and iPad are much slower than Atom in one of the most important use cases: Internet browsing.

The benchmarking ARM vs Atom race started and I finally got a critical mass of benchmarking data: ARM, the Linley group and the german magazine C’t published CoreMark benchmarks for many ARM cores and Intel Atoms.
EEMBC CoreMark is a good metrics of the pure processing power of the CPU core, the algorithm is pretty small and fits in level 1 cache. CoreMark basically replaces the old Million Instruction Per Second (also called as MIPS, not to be exanged with the MIPS company ain direct competition with ARM…)

I created a chart with normalized CoreMark/MHz for each of the result I got.
The result for Atom processors seems stable around 2,5-2,8 CoreMark/MHz, I don’t have a clear bottom line for the Cortex processors. The best results for Cortex A8 and A9 probably derive from tests done in best case conditions in development boards (e.g. for TI OMAP, Freescale i.MX515 and Samsung S5PC110) while real life products (such as iPhone and iPad) got much lower results.
Until the test conditions are clarified is not possible to state who really wins!!

EETimes.com – ESC: Confab to host another round of Intel versus ARM

EETimes.com – ESC: Confab to host another round of Intel versus ARM.

Intel is king of the PC processor and ARM is the supplier of the leading processor architecture for mobile phones.The two companies have been squaring up to each other across the netbook and smartphone sectors for a couple of years now. The ARM-versus-Intel battle is set to continue on a number of fronts at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in Silicon Valley, coming up April 26 to 29, at the McEenery Convention Center in San Jose, California.

It is arguable that Intel and ARM see the embedded market differently. As in the netbook contest, they tend to view things from their own side of the battlefield and with their own opinions as to what is important. Intel looks for high performance requirements and similarities with the PC and motherboard businesses while ARM, either leading or surrounded by its partners, looks for low-power opportunities that play to its strengths.

“Intel may have 90 percent of the PC processor market but they only ship about 2 percent of all processor chips each year. ARM and its licensing partners provide about five times the volume that Intel does,” said Jim Turley, founder and principal analyst with consulting firm Silicon Insider (Pacific Grove, Calif.).

Even though Intel is not exhibiting at ESC, it will be there in silicon — on boards from Kontron and Advantech amongst others. And the company is also represented by Wind River Systems Inc. (Alameda, Calif.), a provider of software and software development tools, which Intel acquired in July 2009.

Jonathon Walsh, general manager for software within Intel’s embedded group, said that the reason Intel bought Wind River was to help protect customers’ software investment as they move through the generations in silicon and because those customers are looking for hardware-software solutions, not just a chip.

“We track 35 [embedded] market segments and see incredible diversity,” said Walsh insisting that increased use of networking and rich graphics are two embedded megatrends.

“Intel tends to see the embedded world as PC-lite. Intel is leveraging the success of its x86 architecture into as many applications as possible. There are advantages because there is a wealth of compatible software,” said Turley. “The downside is that the Intel architecture is complex and uses a lot of energy, and increasingly embedded applications are going wireless and sometimes even battery-less.”

But Intel does have the ability to produce lower power versions of established architectures such as Pentium and Core, as can be experienced at ESC.

This year Intel is helping continue ESC’s long-standing tradition of offering a Build Your Own Embedded System conference track. Intel is providing a development board featuring the Dual-Core D510 Atom processor. The processor supports up to four execution threads and the board come with and 8.4-inch SVGA LCD module and runs Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Standard 7.

ARM, which is exhibiting, will have partners close at hand from its ARM Connected Community program as well as many manufacturing licensees, such as Freescale Semiconductors, Marvell, NXP, Renesas, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, Toshiba.

“ARM’s business model could not be more different to that of Intel. It has pioneered the intellectual property licensing business model and avoids the costs of manufacturing while working with IP licensees. ARM are the architects, they don’t swing the hammer,” said Turley.

“ARM’s business model also has the benefit of isolating it from the day-to-day problems of selling and marketing chips. But it means it constantly has to be re-inventing its road-map, helping its licensees succeed, and providing a reason for licensees to pay again to stay with the program.”

Another disadvantage is that the IP licensing business model only lets ARM capture a portion of the value from the supply chain, which partly explains the company’s relatively slow — albeit steady — growth over its 20 year history. In contrast Intel incurs manufacturing costs but gets control and all the revenue from its chip sales, said Turley.

A difference between Intel and ARM also shows up in terms of manufacturing options. Intel tends to sell packaged die along with market-specific reference designs and software. Meanwhile ARM’s cores are available not only to IDM licensees but also to hundreds of fabless chip companies through deals with foundries such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC).

Intel has failed to become adept at providing hardware in the form of intellectual property that can be integrated into a system-on-chip (Soc) IC, said Turley. “Just having a separate chip for the microprocessor alienates a lot of customers and consumes more power just from wiggling the I/O pins,” Turley added.

Intel announced it was joining the SoC and IP licensing game in March 2009, when it said it would port Atom processor cores to TSMC’s technology platform.

However, that attempt to take on ARM in the SoC space has yet to prove successful. It was revealed in February 2010 that there are no immediate plans for any TSMC-manufactured Atom-based chips, apparently due to a lack of customer demand. Intel’s Walsh confirmed that the collaboration with TSMC is in a holding pattern. “The technology development has proceeded well. We haven’t found an opportunity, from a technology perspective, for a customer fit,” he added.

“The problem is Intel is new to this kind of business. You cannot build up the necessary infrastructure overnight. But it is in ARM’s blood. ARM has been doing it for twenty years,” commented Turley.

Microprocessor versus Microcontroller

Ian Ferguson, director of enterprise and embedded solutions certainly sees benefits for ARM as microcontroller applications shift from 8-bit to 32-bits. “Amongst a lot of other applications touch-screen LCD controllers are going to 32-bit, smart meters and a new wave of motor control,” he said.

Intel’s Walsh sees the same trends but Intel tends to produce two chip solutions — I/O chip and processor — rather than integrated microcontrollers. “We’re seeing a lot of consolidation where software that formerly ran on multiple microcontrollers is ported to a single Atom processor. A separate I/O chip provides flexibility. It allows customers to mix and match I/Os with compute power,” argued Walsh.

At ESC ARM is also expected provide further details of the outcome of its partnership with Xilinx, announced in October 2009. “The combination of programmable and ASIC technology seems very powerful. When you think of the ROI [return-on-investment] for an ASSP at 28- and 22-nm then a blend of ASIC and ASSP has to make sense,” said ARM’s Ferguson.

However, important as the design and manufacturing engineering is, it is only half the equation, according to Turley of Silicon Insider. Things have changed drastically with the proliferation and consumerization of electronics.

The technical specifications — energy consumption, chip count and form-factor, reliability and so on — can still be deal-breakers, but often companies sign up for the road-map as much as for individual processors or cores. And that is much more nebulous and comes down to a promise from the vendor and a bet by the customer on who can deliver in two- to five-year’s time.

“In the 1980s processor choices were made purely on technical merits. In the 1990s it also included software support. Now we are in the 2010s decisions include how much free software is provided, time-to-market, reference designs, direct and indirect advertizing support and kudos, which sometimes just comes down to which architecture is cool. In a way it is sad but it’s there,” said Turley. “That’s where Intel has a big advantage. Intel can help make a market happen, but the downside is a single source supplier and the battery life.”

Turley acknowledged that for some customers, those that are perhaps pursuing a low-power eco-friendly agenda, ARM is also cool. “There’s no doubt that ARM has broken through and left a lot of the other processor IP providers behind, right now,” said Turley.

Both Intel and ARM are pushing ahead with increasingly complex multicore versions of their processors. Nonetheless, in terms of annual revenue, Intel Corp. is a $33 billion Goliath and ARM Holdings plc is a $500 million David. That gives Intel advantages in terms of paying for R&D, acquiring technology and creating industry-wide solutions.

“Multicore and virtualization give rise to a spectrum of different use models in embedded,” said Intel’s Walsh. “SMP [symmetric multiprocessing] is being used extensively in networking, in 3G basestations. It’s also there in security and consolidation allowing multiple pieces of legacy software to operate in separate partitions and without crashing the system.”

Intel Ct is a multi-threaded programming API launched in beta form at the Intel Developer Forum in September 2009. Ct is partly a result of an acquisition Intel made of RapidMind Inc. in August 2009. RapidMind was a provider of software tools that allow the development of C++ code for use on multiple processors. At about the same time Intel acquired Cilk Arts Inc., which had licensed Cilk technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“If anyone does, Intel has the ability to develop that,” said Turley. “Of course multicore parallel processing has been going on in embedded applications for years, but it has been application-specific,” he added.

ARM’s Ferguson agrees that multicore is starting to impact the deeply embedded space. “The multicore banner has been waving for some time, but more of our new licensees are moving straight to multicore. Our history of providing performance within a certain power budget is helping.”

Multicore progess will be reported at the Multicore Exposition, which is

collocated with ESC. And the ARM-versus-Intel battle is an undercurrent there.

Keynoter Tomas Evensen, CTO of Wind River, is clearly, if not exclusively, in the Intel camp. His presentation is set to illustrate how multicore software can simplify the achievement of multiprocessing advantages, using high-end examples ranging from network equipment to multi-function printers. Keynoter Gene Frantz, Principal Fellow of Texas Instruments, plans to tell attendees what to do with a billion transistors of logic. Although not explicitly an ARM-oriented presentation, TI’s experience is clearly in the heterogeneous multiprocessing mix of multiple DSP and ARM cores.

In addition, Max Domeika, an Intel engineer is due to present an hour-long session on a process to promote the understanding of the characteristics and potential parallelism in application and how to map them to the most suitable programming API.

The challenge for both Intel and ARM is whether the use of multiple and heterogenous resources can be generalized and made simple for programmers. “All that we hear from the academic community indicates that it is really difficult to do,” said Turley. “Progess is likely to be incremental and slow, but whoever can make a difference there, is likely to win out.”

Why Apple likes ARM – Big Tech – Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Why Apple likes ARM – Big Tech – Fortune Brainstorm Tech.

Apple is sitting on a heap of cash – more than $40 billion at last count – and the big question has been what the company will do with it. Investors in London this week are buzzing about one possibility: It might buy ARM.

ARM (ARMH) shares have shot up this week on the speculation, bringing them to levels they haven’t seen since 2002. As of now, it looks like it would cost a suitor more than $8 billion to bag the company.

So what gives? Does Steve Jobs really want to fork over billions of dollars for this company?

The answer, I believe, is yes – he very well might. But there are dozens of other tech companies, and probably a few regulators, who wouldn’t want to see that happen. Why? Read on.

First, try to get past the fact that you’ve never heard of ARM; it is arguably the most important player in the mobile hardware business today. (Take a look at this feature I wrote about the company last year.) The mid-sized U.K. firm develops the basic chip designs at the heart of practically all of the world’s cell phones, from the no-frills handsets common in rural India to the latest iPhone. ARM’s specialty is designing elegant, battery-sipping silicon that’s small enough to fit into gadgets and powerful enough to make them hum.

ARM doesn’t get much attention because of its unique business model. Rather than build its own chips, it simply licenses blueprints to companies including Qualcomm (QCOM), Texas Instruments (TXN), Nvidia (NVDA) and Apple (AAPL). Those companies then customize the designs and give ARM a small cut of every sale. The more sophisticated the phone, the more ARM technology it needs, and the bigger the payment ARM gets.

That’s a very different model from Intel (INTC), the biggest and best-known chip company in the world. Intel designs and builds its own chips in a soup-to-nuts approach that yields big revenues and healthy profit margins. The advantage to this model is that Intel has the talent and resources to produce some of the most powerful chips in the world, using the most sophisticated manufacturing methods. The disadvantage is that Intel makes a limited variety of chips, and there aren’t a lot of options for customization. Customers pretty much have to design their products around what Intel’s selling, not the other way around.

Lately Apple has shown a keen desire to exercise even more control over how its products work; the ARM-based A4 chip in the iPad was designed specifically for that device, and similar Apple-only chips are sure to appear in future iPhone and iPod designs. In fact, Apple gets roughly two thirds of its revenue from products that run on ARM-based silicon today, and that proportion is likely to increase as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch grow in popularity.

Given its high reliance on ARM technology, Jobs might figure it makes sense to just own the company outright. He certainly can’t allow ARM to get swallowed by a competitor.

All of that said, there are several reasons why Apple might not actually end up owning ARM.

For one thing, there are too many other influential companies – folks like Google (GOOG), LG, Marvell (MRVL), Nokia (NOK) and Samsung – who depend on ARM’s technology to run their businesses, and they are sure to start a bidding war if they believe ARM is in play. Those companies might not have as much cash as Apple, but they can raise a stink.

And then there are the regulators. With so many companies threatened by the prospect of Apple buying ARM, some regulator somewhere would certainly argue that a sale would be bad for competition in the global mobile market. If they allowed Apple to buy ARM at all, I imagine they would demand assurances that ARM technology would continue to be available to Apple’s competitors under decent licensing terms.

Bottom line: It’s easy to see why Apple might want ARM, harder to imagine a deal going through. Can you imagine Steve Jobs owning the intellectual property behind the world’s cell phone chips, and happily licensing it to competitors who are building phones with Google and Microsoft (MSFT)? Me either.