ARM, which designs the low-power chips that go into just about every cellphone sold today, commands a prime position when it comes to one of the next major technological revolutions. This is the so-called Internet of Things, when all sorts of everyday objects will have tiny chips placed inside them and gain the ability to process information and talk to the Web…
Dealing with hand-held devices and cellphones forced ARM to operate under severe power restrictions. It chased milliwatts, while Intel chased horsepower.
ARM’s low-power chips are echoed in its laidback culture. Mr. Muller recalled an early meeting in a Cambridge pub where the company’s first employees plotted ARM’s future. The engineers were asked to raise their hands if they wanted to become executives.
“Who cares about the PC?” Mr. Flautner said. “I would love to lose mine. Now, it’s all about penetrating these weird markets that we can’t even fully fathom yet.”
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If ARM is dominating and has a bright future ahead of it, I think it isn’t distinguishing itself because of low power (since there are a number of competing chip families out there with similar or lower power), but with price versus performance. ARM just represents the best bang for the buck out there right now, with the fact that it’s not tied to any one silicon vendor a nice little insurance policy in your back pocket. The LPC1343 above is a good example. There’s nothing on that chip you can’t do with any 8 or 16-bit MCU … but what stands out is that you’re getting that kind of performance in a $2.50 MCU. The LPC1100s at 50MHz get down to almost $1 in production quantities. 4mA power consumption is nice, but a $1.30 price tag for the (LPC1114) is what makes it a total no-brainer.