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ARM 2014 Results: 12 Billion Cores

ARM 2014 Results: 12 Billion Cores
by Paul McLellan on 02-16-2015 at 7:00 am

 Last week was the ARM earnings call, giving the Q4 results and a summary of 2014. 12B chips containing ARM processors were shipped last year which has meant that they have grown in all their major end-markets: mobile, embedded intelligence, and enterprise infrastructure. Almost half of those 12B chips were in mobile, around 5.6B. That is obviously a lot more than the total number of smarphones shipped (1.3B) meaning that there are, on average, four to five ARM processors in each smartphone. Of course the one in the application processor gets all the attention and is probably the only one that is a high-end 64-bit Cortex-Ax core.

If you want some evidence that IoT is really a thing and is not just pure hype, then ARM has some numbers:around 200 companies in total with Cortex-M and what are, many of those companies are doing is generating products for these new emerging markets wearables, smart devices, IOT, which integrates a different technologies in different ways to address new and growing markets

Their market share in networking has doubled year on year from 5% market share to 10%. This is all still 32-bit since this is not an industry with short design cycles. So there is future upside with the V8 instruction set to address a bigger market (and carries higher royalty rates).

ARM reckons they are now the #1 GPU vendor with their Mali series with their partners shipping 550M chips. I’m guessing that means they believe they have overtaken Imagination who are the only other serious GPU IP licensor, most notably to Apple for the iPhone.

One statistic they reported, which they never have before, is how many chips contain ARM’s physical IP (descendants of the old Artisan product line). The answer is 8.9B. I don’t know if that is only chips that contain ARM processors, obviously you can use ARM standard cells without having a processor on your chip. That is 2/3 of the number of chips shipped with ARM cores anyway.

Last year ARM teased analysts by pre-announcing a product with a code-name Maya. This turned out to be the Cortex-A72 announced a couple of weeks ago along with a suite of other products. On the call they started teasing again, pre-announcing two new products called Teal and Grebe, although they gave not a hint as to what sort of products these might be.

See also New Suite of ARM IP for Mobile

One surprising statistic is that they expect that by the end of this year around 50% of the cores shipping will be 64-bit, including more than 30% of mobile devices.

ARM was asked about how much share they anticipated Intel getting in mobile with their agreements with Rockchip and Spreadtrum. Simon wasn’t going to go there that directly but they are clearly not quaking in their boots:So we’re not assuming any significant market share loss in smarpthone in any of the numbers and outlook that we’ve given today. I think we’ve got an excellent portfolio of technology that’s got enable ARM and our licensees to continue to succeed in that space. So we’re not baking in some big share loss and therefore there is not the opportunity that doesn’t materialize. I think over the foreseeable future here, over the lifetime of the products that we have, our shares there are looking good.

So great results. To me the most surprising number was the explosive growth of 64-bit when you think that it was only introduced a year or two ago and ARM expects to exit the year with over half of their partners’ shipments being 64-bit. Given that they also expect a lot of growth in the IoT/Cortex-M end of the business, which is all 32-bit, this is impressive. They also said that they expect to have 20% of the server business by 2020, which would be an amazing achievement if it turns out that way.

Next place to get your ARM fix: it is Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in a couple of weeks. Expect to see lots of ARM v8 smartphones announced.

Transcript of call here. Slides here.


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