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ARM processor shipments — and profits — are booming

Apr 27, 2011 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Buoyed by sales of smartphones and tablets, ARM Holdings reported a 35 percent increase in year-over-year profits. The company added that shipments of processors based on its designs were up 33 percent, while 39 different licensees signed up during the first quarter of its financial year.

Reporting results for its first quarter (ending March 31, 2011), ARM Holdings cited growth rates that handily outpaced Wall Street's estimates — and also the gains recently reported by archrival Intel. Revenue was up 29 percent year-over-year, to a total of $185.5 million for the quarter, and pre-tax profit was up 35 percent to 50.8 million U.K. pounds, the company said.


Licensees shipped 1.85 billion ARM devices during the first quarter of 2011
(Click to enlarge)

In a statement, the company said 1.15 billion ARM processor-based chips shipped into mobile devices during the quarter. This already-impressive figure appears to have been a misprint, however, since a slide (above) also provided by ARM cites 1.85 billion, and company CEO Warren East (right) confirmed the latter by stating, "Shipments of ARM-processor based chips increased 33 percent on the same period last year driven by growth in smartphones, tablets, digital TVs and microcontrollers."

ARM, of course, makes its money from licensing its processor IP, not from actually shipping the chips. Here, the company divides its business into a processor division (PD) centered on microprocessor cores — including specific functions, such as graphics and video IP, fabric IP, and embedded software IP — and a physical IP division (PIPD), focused on building blocks for translation of a circuit design into actual silicon.

According to the company, PD licensing and PD royalties were up year over year by 50 percent (to $51.3 million) and 32 percent (to $87.9 million), respectively. At the same time, PIPD licensing went up 43 percent to $12.6 million, ARM added.


ARM added 39 licensees during the first quarter of this year
(Click to enlarge)

ARM further indicated that during the first quarter of its 2011 financial year, it gained 39 new processor licensees, as shown in the slide above. Of these, 14 involved application processors based on the company's ARM7, ARM9, or Cortex-A cores.

While not detailed in today's earnings report, new Cortex-A licensees during the quarter included LG, Nvidia, and ST-Ericcson. (For further details, including the state of play regarding Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 devices, see yesterday's coverage of the LG license.)

Cambridge, England-based ARM's fortunes have been boosted not only by booming smartphone and tablet sales, but also by Microsoft's announcement that it will port an upcoming release of "big Windows" (rumored to be called Windows 8 when it ships) to run on ARM SoCs (systems on chip). Last December, meanwhile, ARM acknowledged its plans to move into the server market, claiming that its designs could halve the power consumption of the low-end servers increasingly being used for tasks such as virtualization and cloud computing.

Server-related developments since then have included:

  • Calxeda's announcement that it will ship ARM Cortex-A9 server chips later this year
  • Marvell's introduction of the server-targeted quad-core Armada XP
  • Nvidia's plans to build server CPUs
  • and ZT Systems' release of a power-sipping R1801e rackmount server (below).


ZT Systems' R1801e has solid state storage and eight ARM Cortex-A9 processors
(Click to enlarge)

Further information

Links providing access to ARM Holdings' earnings release, presentation, and webcast, may be found on ARM's investor relations website.

Jonathan Angel can be followed at www.twitter.com/gadgetsense.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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