updated 01:45 pm EDT, Wed July 30, 2008
ARM License May Be Apples
Mobile chipmaker ARM has handed out a mystery architecture license for its processors, the company revealed Wednesday while discussing its latest quarterly results. The company unusually declines to say which manufacturer it may be but notes that the particular licensee is a "leading handset OEM [original equipment manufacturer]" and that the deal would give the unnamed firm much more direct control over building and using chips -- a deal the new partner wants, ARM explains.
"Some handset manufacturers want to have more control over the design of their handset, including the components within it, than others," says ARM chief Warren East. "And it's as simple as that."
East also notes that the future plans would help the company establish its future roadmap and that the plans would apply to "mobile computing devices" rather than just phones.
Speculation points to Apple as a potential candidate for the license. The company already uses a Samsung ARM processor at the core of the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPod touch and is increasingly turning towards custom-designing its components. The California electronics label recently acquired PA Semiconductor with the intent of using its expertise to design custom components and is notably buying out a firm best known for its low-power, embedded designs.
Such a license is rare irrespective of the final buyer; while companies such as Samsung often license ARM architecture for themselves due to their sheer range of products and manufacturing scale, Apple and most smaller electronics companies have often had to purchase generic chips from these companies and thus lose out on optimizing their devices for more features or better performance.