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9/29/2008
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IBM, ARM Join On Mobile-Device Chip Technology

The results of the partnership will be used in logic, memory, and interface products for the customers of IBM's Common Platform technology alliance, such as Chartered Semiconductor and Samsung.

Semiconductor design firm ARM has agreed to work with an IBM-led alliance in developing next-generation technology for processors aimed at mobile devices and consumer electronics, the companies announced Monday.

ARM, which develops and sells a 32-bit RISC processor for mobile phones, media players, and other devices, has signed a multiyear collaboration agreement in which ARM will develop and license a design platform of physical intellectual property for future 32-nanometer and 28-nm systems-on-a-chip -- or SoC. The IP will be used in logic, memory, and interface products for the customers of IBM's Common Platform technology alliance, which comprises IBM, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, and Samsung Electronics.

The "parallel development" work between ARM and Common Platform is expected to accelerate the alliance's ability to offer embedded SoCs. "With high volume manufacturing in our Common Platform fabs, customers will benefit with time to volume advantages critical to success in the fast moving consumer electronics market," Chang Sik Choi, executive VP for Samsung, said in a statement.

In developing its technology, ARM will leverage the alliance's high-K metal-gate technology that makes it possible to shrink the size of processor transistors to 32 and 28 nanometers. Getting more transistors on a single piece of silicon, or die, significantly boosts power-to-performance ratios of processors.

The CPU architecture developed by ARM is widely used in embedded designs because of its power-saving features. The ARM line of products accounts for about 75% of all embedded 32-bit RISC CPUs. The architecture is widely used in portable devices, such as Apple's iPod, Nintendo DS, BlackBerry 8700 and BlackBerry Pearl, Palm Tungsten T3, and HP-49/50 Calculators.

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