The Secret Processor Revolution (Part 1)

- Free product key for windows 10
- Free Product Key for Microsoft office 365
- Malwarebytes Premium 3.7.1 Serial Keys (LifeTime) 2019

We take a look at the latest battle in the CPU market

For years, the computer industry has been dominated by two companies: Microsoft and Intel. The former’s Windows operating system runs on more than 80% of the world’s laptops and desktops, while the latter’s processors account for an equal chunk of the pie. Despite attempts from competitors including Apple’s OS X in the operating system market and AMD’s Bulldozer architecture chips in the processor market to muscle in on the game, the so-called ‘Wintel’ alliance has been all but unbreakable - even with legal intervention from anti-monopoly groups worldwide.

That could all be set to change, however. ARM, a small company based in Cambridge, whose chips have not been seen on the desktop since 2003, is set for a comeback. And it’s planning to bring the fight right to Intel’s doorstep, using its near-domination of the mobile market to fund a push back where it all began.

ARM’s Origins

Today, ARM is known for powering the overwhelming majority of tablets and smartphones on the market, but that wasn’t always the case. The origins of the company can be traced back to Acorn Computers, a firm set up in Cambridge in 1978 under the original name of Cambridge Processor Unit (CPU) by Chris Curry and Hermann Hauser. The company was formed following Curry’s departure from Clive Sinclair’s Science of Cambridge when plans to create a home computer system were shelved in favor of the ill-fated C5 electric vehicle project.

Working with Hauser and a group of engineers from Cambridge University, Curry oversaw the creation of the Acorn Atom, a powerful home computer based around the 6502 processor. Despite being beaten to market by the cheaper but less flexible Sinclair ZX80, the Atom was a success and its follow-up was chosen as the official machine for the BBC’s Micro computer literacy project.

A huge success, the BBC Micro catapulted Acorn into the big leagues, and the company floated on the Unlisted Securities Market in 1983 with a market capitalization of $216.5 million (around $602 million corrected for inflation) after ending 1979 with revenue of just $4813. However, missteps in America and a slump in the market that saw Acorn left with warehouses filled with unsold Electrons, cut-down versions of the Atom designed to compete with the Sinclair Spectrum, would spell disaster for the company, with a winding-up order being issued just two years after its incredible initial public offering.



Investment from Italian computer firm Olivetti would save the company and allow it to pursue a project that one of its engineers had been working on in secret: the Acorn RISC Machine.

Wilson’s Pet

The brainchild of Acorn engineer Sophie Wilson, the Acorn RISC Machine was a top-secret project designed to give the company its own custom processor architecture. Where it had previously been restricted to using third-party components, namely the 6502 processor from Commodore-owned MOS Technology, Wilson’s creation would allow Acorn to develop more powerful machines without having to send a chunk of the profits to one of its own rivals.

Inspired by work carried out at the University of California at Berkeley, known as the Berkeley RISC Project, Wilson single-handedly created a simulated RISC processor using the BBC Basic programming language and a more powerful dual-processor version of the company’s BBC Microcomputer. Using the simulation as a proof of concept, Wilson was able to get the nod from Hauser to produce a physical prototype.

The very first ARM chip was produced in 1985 by VLSI Technology, a company that already produced several components for Acorn machines, and it worked first-time. The prototype chip was fitted to a BBC Micro as a secondary processor and provided the power needed to quickly design a commercially viable version: the 32-bit ARM2.

“The jump to a 64-bit architecture means an assault on the data center”

Despite its origins from a simulation created by a single engineer and the small team who had worked on the physical implementation, the ARM2 was a huge success. Its clever design meant that it could easily beat Intel’s rival 80286 processor in the performance stakes while drawing significantly less power.

It was this low power draw that would lead ARM inexorably into the mobile market.

The Spin-Off

A partnership with Apple Computer in the late 1980s was considered so important to Acorn and Olivetti that a new company was created specifically to handle the project: Advanced RISC Machines. It was a name that would stick with the company right through until 1998, when a dual public offering of parent company ARM Holdings on the London Stock Exchange and NASDAQ would see it rebranded to the now-familiar ARM.

Motorola Razr i

Motorola Razr I

The work carried out by ARM for Apple would result in the ARMv6 family of processors, starting with the ARM 610. The first hints as to ARM’s future would come from Apple itself, which ditched its plans to create an Apple II-like machine based around the chip, dubbed Project Möbius, in favor of using the low-power processor in its ill-fated Newton personal digital assistant (PDA). Acorn, meanwhile, stayed faithful to the desktop market that had served it so well, releasing a family of RISC PC machines based around the ARM 610.

The high performance-per-watt available from the ARMv6 architecture didn’t go unnoticed in the industry: Digital Equipment Corporation licensed the technology for its StrongARM processors family, an implementation that would later be used by Intel in its high-performance XScale mobile chips.

Although Intel would ditch the XScale family in favor of self-designed parts based around the x86 architecture it had worked so hard to popularize, selling the license and technology to Marvell, and Apple’s Newton failed to be a commercial success, ARM would find its technology in great demand.

Indeed, the Cambridge company’s off-shoot project would prove to outlive its parent. When Acorn Computers closed its doors in November 2000, having failed to convince the world of the benefits of its RISC PC and RISC OS offering over Intel chips running Windows, ARM would continue with barely a hitch.

 Tegra 3

Tegra 3

Mobile Growth

As consumers started to demand more from their mobile phones, companies began racing around for high-performance low-power architectures that could provide the needed performance without sacrificing battery life. The solution was ARM.

As feature phones gave way to smartphones, the demand for ARM’s designs grew. Rather than making the chips itself, like Intel, the company sold intellectual property (IP) licenses that allowed third-party customers to produce their own chips, customizing the design as required. It was a clever tactic, sacrificing the hefty margins typical of the industry for significantly lowered risk and it paid off.

At the start of 2011, ARM announced a milestone: its customers had shipped more than 15 billion ARM-based processors, a large proportion of which were destined for smartphones and tablets. It’s a rapidly growing figure: the company’s licensees are estimated to be producing chips at a rate of five billion a year - a three-fold increase since 2008.

The result is a market in which it is almost unheard of for a smartphone or tablet to run a non-ARM processor. Everything from Apple’s popular iPad and iPhone ranges to Microsoft’s latest Surface tablets are based on ARM processors, and while some companies are looking elsewhere (such as Motorola, which has experimented with Intel’s x86-based Atom processor in the Razr i smartphone), they are most definitely in the minority.

Top 10
Free Mobile And Desktop Apps For Accessing Restricted Websites
TOYOTA CAMRY 2; 2.5 : Camry now more comely
KIA SORENTO 2.2CRDi : Fuel-sipping slugger
How To Setup, Password Protect & Encrypt Wireless Internet Connection
Emulate And Run iPad Apps On Windows, Mac OS X & Linux With iPadian
Backup & Restore Game Progress From Any Game With SaveGameProgress
Generate A Facebook Timeline Cover Using A Free App
New App for Women ‘Remix’ Offers Fashion Advice & Style Tips
SG50 Ferrari F12berlinetta : Prancing Horse for Lion City's 50th
- Messages forwarded by Outlook rule go nowhere
- Create and Deploy Windows 7 Image
- How do I check to see if my exchange 2003 is an open relay? (not using a open relay tester tool online, but on the console)
- Creating and using an unencrypted cookie in ASP.NET
- Directories
- Poor Performance on Sharepoint 2010 Server
- SBS 2008 ~ The e-mail alias already exists...
- Public to Private IP - DNS Changes
- Send Email from Winform application
- How to create a .mdb file from ms sql server database.......
programming4us programming4us