updated 01:45 pm EDT, Thu April 22, 2010
ARM chief says licensing enough for Apple
ARM CEO Warren East quickly moved to defuse rumors of a possible Apple takeover with a response to the suspicions. He noted that ARM's inherent nature, where it licenses architecture rather than make the chips themselves, means there would be little incentive to actually buy the company. Apple is already free to modify the design.
"Common sense tells us that our standard business model is an excellent way for technology companies to gain access to our technology," West said to the Guardian. "Nobody has to buy the company."
ARM's licensing system is designed to be relatively flexible and includes both fixed and flexible patterns. The Samsung-designed chips in current iPhones and iPod touch players, are based on a fixed ARM design that only has slight customizations to meet particular needs. A more open option lets licensees actually change the architecture itself past the original license; Apple has the rights to this and may have adjusted the Apple A4 for power efficiency, although it largely clings to the reference Cortex-A8 also used by Nokia's N900 and a few other handhelds.
As Apple already owns PA Semi, it can make a large number of the changes without needing outside help. Any acquisition would also face legal implications, as the company would either have to continue offering equal licenses to rivals or risk lawsuits from phone makers if it cut off licenses.