ARM sees strength in numbers against Intel, Nvidia
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Chip designer ARM (ARM.L) said the size and depth of its partner network across hardware and software gave it an edge in mobile technology that top chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O) and new graphics rival Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) would struggle to match.
Incoming chief executive Simon Segars said the British company's power efficient technology was deeply embedded in smartphones and tablets because it was licensed so widely, saving chipmakers development costs and ensuring compatibility.
ARM licenses its technology to partners like Qualcomm (QCOM.O), Nvidia, Broadcom (BRCM.O) and MediaTek, which use the blueprints to make their own chips.
ARM-based chips are used in nearly all smartphones and tablets, but the company faces growing competition from Intel, which was slow to react to the mobile revolution but is showing signs of becoming competitive.
Last month the U.S. chipmaker unveiled Silvermont, the most extensive overhaul of its Atom mobile processors to date.
Intel's stock has risen about 5 percent since it gave an overview of the new technology, while ARM's shares have fallen around 19 percent.
The U.S. chipmaker also scored a major victory earlier this month when Samsung said it would use an Intel mobile chip to power its Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 inch tablet.
Segars said ARM had always expected Intel to gain some design wins, but he said the British company would retain the largest share of the mobile market.
"We have always considered (Intel) to be a formidable company," he said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco.
But he said ARM was developing products that delivered the right performance at the lowest possible power consumption by focusing on the whole system, including how data moved around the chip and how the processor and graphics interacted.
"We think that what we are doing in terms of that roadmap - the execution, the way we work with our partners - keeps our technology ahead," he said on Wednesday.
ARM unveiled its newest line of processors, the Cortex A-12, earlier this month, aimed at the fast growing $200-$350 smartphone segment, which the company says will number half a billion devices by 2015.
It also launched a partner line in its Mali graphics processors and it first video processing technology, and the designs to join them all together.
It has been gaining share in graphics, at the expense of companies like Britain's Imagination Technology (IMG.L), but it faces a new competitor in Nvidia, a company synonymous with graphics chips.
Nvidia's Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang told the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Tuesday that his company would license its technology to other chipmakers to take greater advantage of the booming market for mobile computing.
Segars said that, like in main processors, the strength of its graphic solution lay in its compatibility with the rest of the ARM ecosystem.
"We think we have a pretty solid line of GPUs (Graphics Processing Units)," he said.
"It's about doing a great job of implementation, technical synergy with the rest of the key building blocks in the processor, and I think us doing all of that together means we can hopefully deliver a great solution to our customers."
Segars, who is currently based in California, has worked at ARM for 22 years. He takes over from Warren East on July 1.
It is the first change at the top since 2001, but Segars said he was not planning any big overhauls.
He said the collegiate atmosphere of the company, which reflects its base in the university city of Cambridge in east England, was a strength he wanted to retain.
"For me, the priority is keep doing what we are doing because we do it well and make sure we capitalize on the new opportunities that we see," he said.
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(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)