Thu, Feb 05, 2015 - Page 14 News List

ARM unveils faster design to fuel smartphone market

POLE POSITION:ARM said that its Cortex A72 and a suite of updates to enable ‘console gaming-class’ graphics and access to memory put smartphones on track to replace PCs


ARM Holdings PLC, which has technology that is in more than 95 percent of smartphones, said new chip designs will improve graphics and processing power, making it easier to play high-definition games and videos on mobile devices.

ARM’s Cortex A72 is available to customers now and phones featuring it will debut next year, the company said on Tuesday at a presentation in San Francisco.

The A72 will give chipmakers the ability to build processors with 50 times more power than top-tier smartphones had five years ago, ARM said.

The UK company is trying to help its customers and their phone-maker clients add new features that will keep consumers trading up to new smartphone models, sustaining growth in a market that ships more than 1 billion units a year.

The new design is part of a suite of updates for mobile technology, which also includes better graphics and access to memory for “console gaming-class performance,” ARM said.

“We are still adamant that we’re on a path where the phone becomes the primary computing device,” ARM vice president of segment marketing Ian Ferguson said.

As technology advances, smartphones will be able to replace tablets and desktop computers, he said.

Companies including Samsung Electronics Co and MediaTek Inc (聯發科) use ARM’s designs to make processors for phones. Qualcomm Inc also uses ARM designs in some of its products and licenses ARM technology for use in ones it designs itself.

ARM is counting on new technology and faster mobile networks to drive sales and overcome a slowdown in high-end smartphone growth. Demand for high-end smartphones has slowed as cheaper models sold in regions such as Asia and Africa gain users.

Smartphone unit sales grew 28 percent in the fourth quarter, helped by demand for less expensive devices in emerging markets, researcher International Data Corp said last month.

Meanwhile, Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) yesterday launched a very low cost 3G smartphone powered by an Intel Corp chipset to give first-time smartphone users an accessible option in its home market.

The 4.5-inch ZenFone C will be sold online and in retail stores at NT$2,990 (US$95), making it Asustek’s second-cheapest smartphone, behind only the 4-inch ZenFone 4 that it unveiled in January last year.

The Taiwanese company is making a push into the mainstream smartphone market this year with its low-cost ZenFone range, which is gaining traction among consumers globally, Asustek chairman Jonney Shih (施崇棠) said late last month.

Separately, the worldwide market of two-in-one detachable computers could see a leap in growth over this year as more PC brands participate in the promising product category, a Taipei-based IDC analyst said yesterday.

Shipments of two-in-one computers like Asustek’s popular Transformer line are forecast to reach 13.44 million units this year, up 55 percent from the 8.68 million units last year, IDC Taiwan associate director Helen Chiang (江芳韻) said.

The two-in-one category began gaining consumer traction last year thanks to further marketing efforts by companies such as Asustek and US software giant Microsoft Corp, Chiang said at a media briefing hosted by Microsoft to showcase Windows-based two-in-one devices.

She predicted more companies will jump into the two-in-one market this year and expand the offerings of mid-range to high-end models priced over US$700, but she said that it is hard to estimate the ratio of above-US$700 models for this year.

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