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Celebrating 50 Billion ARM Powered Chips!

Celebrating 50 Billion ARM Powered Chips!
by Daniel Nenni on 02-27-2014 at 12:00 pm

In case you have not seen it yet there is a website named 50BillionChips where you can follow the journey of ARM. This goes quite well with the brief history of ARM we wrote last year in preparation for our bookFabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry. ARM was a big part of that transformation of course.

A Brief History of ARM

Follow the journey of ARM from the very beginning in 1990 when Advanced RISC Machines Ltd spins out of Acorn in the hope of creating a new microprocessor standard, to the collaboration of an ECO System of Partners that enabled the mass market mobile revolution and to a future where ARM is diversifying and leading innovation to new technologies such as the Internet of Things and expanding mobile connectivity.

History of ARM 1990

  • Advanced RISC machines (ARM) spins out of Acorn & Apple Computers collaboration efforts with a charter to create new microprocessor standard.
  • VLSI Technology becomes an ARM investor and the first Licensee of ARM processor IP.


  • Robin Saxby joins ARM as Chairman &Chief Executive Officer, his ambition earning him the nickname the “Damaging Director” by EE Times.
  • ARM introduces the first embeddable RISC core, the ARM6 solution.
  • The Apple Newton personal digital assistant is launched, based on the ARM 610 RISC processor
  • Panasonic launches the ARM-powered 3DO multiplayer video game console launched.


  • Nokia launches the ARM-powered 8110 mobile phone, which due to the prominent curvature of the case earned it the nickname “banana phone”.


  • ARM Holdings goes public with its Initial Public Offering (IPO). First day of trading saw the share price leap 118% from 375p to 820p resulting in a valuation of $1Bn.
  • ARM partners ship more than 50 million ARM Powered products


  • ARM becomes the highest volume 16/32-bit embedded RISC processor solution
  • Software developer Micrologic is acquired by ARM
  • MP3 and Dolby digital software solutions are added to ARM portfolio
  • VLSI announces Bluetooth technology is to be included into its wireless capabilities.
  • Nokia launches the highly successful ARM-powered 3210 mobile phone, arguable the first consumer phone to become a fashion icon.
  • Staff numbers at ARM HQ soar to 500 people


  • TSMC and UMC become members of ARM Foundry Program
  • e-Commerce Design Centre is opened in Sophia Antipolis, France
  • Software companies Allant Software and Infinite Designs are acquired
  • Taiwan office is opened
  • SC100 SecurCore™ microprocessor core is launched for smart card applications
  • Jazelle™ technology launched providing Java application support
  • Samsung and Incard launch world’s first ARM Powered 32-bit smart card for high-volume SIM applications.
  • Ericsson launches the ARM-powered R380 phone, the first smart phone with Symbian OS
  • Nokia launches ARM-powered 9210 Communicator
  • Palm publicises their intention to use ARM technology for future projects


  • Offices opened in Sheffield (UK) and Israel.
  • SecurCore SC200 and SC210 microprocessor cores are introduced secure 32 bit processing for smart card and secure IC developers
  • MOVE multimedia acceleration technology introduced for wireless devices
  • PrimeXsys platforms with release of the PrimeXsys wireless platform
  • ARMv6 architecture is announced, and ARMVFP9-S and ARM VFP10 vector floating-point coprocessors


  • Warren East appointed Chief Executive Officer
  • Office is opened in Shanghai, China


  • ARM launches TrustZone™ technology for secure computing
  • ARM968E-S processor launched. The smallest, lowest power, synthesizable ARM9E™ family core produced to date


  • Shanghai Zhonghua Electronics Co Ltd (ZHSOC) becomes first ARM Approved Design Centre in China
  • Telecom Italia Lab and NSW become the first two Approved Design Centres specialising in PrimeXsys
  • ARM’s first Developers Conference is held
  • OptimoDE™ Data Engine is launched
  • MPCore™ multiprocessor launched
  • HTC launches the ARM-powered Typhoon, billed as “the first smartphone without no size penalty”.


  • Artisan Components is acquired by ARM, a provider of physical IP components for the design of system-on-a-chip (SoC) integrated circuits (ICs)
  • ARM Acquires Keil Elektronik GmbH and Keil Software, developing its software development tools


  • Norwegian Falanx Microsystems AS is acquired, strengthening ARM’s 3D graphics IP portfolio
  • Cortex™-R4 processor is launched, offering high performance realtime processing for mobile phones, hard-disk drives, printers and automotive applications.
  • SOISIC acquisition Strengthens ARM’s Physical IP Portfolio by adding Silicon On Insulator Technology
  • The ARM Cortex-A8 processor is recognised as ‘Best in 2005’ by four leading electronics industry publications


  • Five billionth ARM Powered processor is shipped to the mobile device market
  • Cortex-A9 processor is launched at ARM‘s Developers’ Conference in Santa Clara
  • ARM launches the Cortex-M1 processor – the first ARM processor designed specifically for implementation on FPGAs
  • AMBA Adaptive Verification IP launched
  • RealView Profiler for embedded software analysis introduced
  • Cortex-A9 processors are launched, offering scalable performance and low-power designs
  • ARM introduces SecurCore SC300 processor for smart card applications
  • Apple launches the ARM-powered iPhone.
  • Nokia launches the ARM-powered N95, one of the first smartphones


  • ARM announces 10 billionth processor shipment.
  • ARM is voted Britain’s Top Employer by crf.com
  • ARM announces Physical IP for IBM’s 45nm SOI Foundry, and industry first for silicon-on-insulator technology
  • ARM’s Mali-200 graphics processing unit (GPU) is the world’s first to achieve Khronos Open GL ES 2.0 conformance at 1080p HDTV resolution
  • T-mobile launches the ARM powered GI smartphone (also known as the HTC Dream), the first phone to use the Android operating system


  • Logipard AB acquisition extends ARM’s leadership in media processing and graphics
  • ARM invests in Japanese software vendor eSOL to develop enhanced platforms for next-generation automotive electronics
  • 2GHz-capable Cortex-A9 dual core processor implementation further enhances mobile performance
  • ARM launches its smallest, lowest power, most energy efficient processor, the ARM Cortex-M0
  • Samsung launches the Galaxy S2 smartphone incorporating both ARM processor and Mali graphics
  • Palm launches the Pre, the first phone to use the ARMv7 architecture.
  • Fortune Magazine names ARMThe Chip Company That Dares to Battle Intel


  • ARM celebrated its 20th anniversary, recorded by Bill Thompson in his BBC article The birth of a UK tech giant
  • ARM Launches Cortex™-M4 microcontroller, offering High Performance Digital Signal Control
  • ARM Launches DS-5 Development Tools for ARM Linux-Based Systems
  • Giesecke & Devrient announces collaboration with ARM for secure mobile payments utilising ARM’s TrustZone technology
  • ARM and key partners form non-profit company Linaro to accelerate the rollout of ARM based Linux devices
  • ARM and Taiwanese foundry TSMC sign long-term agreement to achieve optimized Systems-on-Chip based on ARM processors, extending down to 20nm
  • ARM Mali becomes the most widely licensed embedded GPU architecture, a development quickly underpinned by the launch of the Mali-T604 GPU providing industry-leading graphics performance and energy-efficiency
  • Microsoft becomes an ARM architecture licensee
  • LG launches its ARM-powered Optimus 2x Android mobile phone


  • ARM CEO Warren East makes Barron’s list of the World’s Top 30 CEOs
  • FTSE4Good Index, designed to measure the performance of companies that meet globally-recognized corporate responsibility standards, recognises ARM contribution
  • ARM granted Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation Category)
  • ARM collaborates with IBM to provide comprehensive design platforms down to 14nm, and extends UMC partnership into 28nm
  • AMD announces license and plans for first ARMv8-based processor
  • R&D presence is expanded in Taiwan is with ARM’s Hsinchu Design Center
  • Cortex-A7 processor is launched
  • A new approach to energy efficient mobile computing is announced with big.Little configuration for Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 processors.
  • ARMv8 is architecture unveiled at ARM’s annual TechCon event
  • The Mali-T658 GPU is launched
  • Microsoft unveils Windows on ARM at CES 2011
  • ARM, Cadence and TSMC tape out first 20nm Cortex-A15 multicore processor.


  • Linux 3.7 is released with support for 64 bit ARM Architecture


  • Simon Segars is appointed ARM CEO.
  • The Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) is announced, providing a common platform for heterogeneous ARM-based servers.
  • ARM acquires Sensinode, a pioneer in software for low cost low power internet connected devices and a key contributor to open standards for the Internet of Things
  • ARMv8-A, ARM’s first 64 bit architecture for high performance mobile and enterprise computing is launched
  • Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 processors are launched, offering seamless processing of 32-bit and 64-bit code and big.Little support.
  • Apple launches the first 64-bit smartphone, the ARM-powered iPhone 5s

ARM® designs the semiconductor intellectual property and enabling technology at the heart of the world’s advanced digital products. Our energy efficient and scalable processors deliver the intelligence which is transforming society; from smartphones and wearable devices, to enterprise infrastructure and servers, to embedded technology in automotive, industrial applications and the ‘Internet of Things’.

Our technology is licensed by partners who have now shipped more than 50 billion microchips containing ARM processors since the company was founded in 1990. Together with our Connected Community, we are breaking down barriers to innovation for developers, designers and engineers, ensuring a fast, reliable route to market for leading electronics companies. Join the conversation at http://community.arm.com.

More Articles by Daniel Nenni…..

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