ARM's New Chip Architecture Underscores Ambitious Plans

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The processor, part of ARM's Cortex-A family, will eventually be able to run as many as 16 cores at 2.5 GHz and support functions including 3D navigation, augmented reality, and high-speed broadband, ARM said Thursday in a statement.

The technology could also allow ARM to challenge Intel by spreading the same architecture for low-power chips in the networking and server markets, both of which are saddled with the costs of high-power. ARM has made no secret of its aspirations to power enterprise servers, just as Intel has made no secret of its intention to challenge ARM licenses in the mobility market, having recently purchased Infineon's wireless chipset unit for approximately $1.4 billion.

Though ARM does not make chips, it has become a leading designer of embedded architecture by licensing its design. More than 95 percent of the world's mobile phones include ARM-based chips, just as ARM challenges Intel's dominance in the market for netbooks and tablets.

Texas Instruments, which helped develop the new core along with Samsung and Ericsson, will be the first Cortrex-A15 licensee, with sample chips scheduled for release next year. Chipmakers Samsung, Toshiba and Nvidia pay an average royalty of 10 cents per chip to license the design.

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Linux, Symbian, Ubuntu, and Google's Android will feature application compatibility with Eagle. Apple also licenses ARM's Cortex-A8 core design for the A4 chip, which runs inside the iPhone 4 and the iPad.

Microsoft also licenses ARM's design, though its intentions in doing so are not quite as clear, since the company has access to more information than would be necessary to either build or make use of ARM-based processors.

Sample chips with the A15 design are expected next year, to be followed by products featuring A15-based processors in 2013, a spokesperson for ARM told Reuters earlier this week.

Shares of ARM stock rose to an eight-year high for the second consecutive day Wednesday, after news that Samsung had already chosen the firm's technology for its new smartphone processor.