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ARM responds to Intel, TSMC deal

by Scott Bicheno on 13 March 2009, 17:05

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), ARM

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Future battle lines

Two weeks ago we brought you an insight into the battle for the brains of tomorrow's mobile internet devices.

As PCs get smaller and smartphones get smarter, the IT and mobile handset markets are on collision course. At the same time the dominant processor designers from each side of that spectrum are increasingly focusing their attentions on CPUs that will power this future converged device, which combines the qualities of a PC and a mobile phone.

For now a popular term for such a gadget is Mobile Internet Device (MID), but that could well change along with the technology.

We're all well aware of Intel's efforts at producing a small, low power CPU, as the Atom has become one of the best known pieces of technology in its brief existence, but demanding increasing attention has been what UK semiconductor company ARM has up its sleeve.

ARM is not a manufacturer like Intel. It designs low power processors and then licenses those designs to companies like NVIDIA or Qualcomm who incorporate them into their own CPU designs. The manufacture of these is then usually outsourced to foundries like TSMC.

Historically we associate ARM designs with mobile phone handsets, but recent ARM designs, like the Cortex A8 and A9, look capable of giving Intel a pretty good run for its money in not only the MID, but the netbook markets too.