Taipei Times (TT): As PC analysts are conservative about the reception of Windows 8 laptops, does ARM believe the target of seizing a double-digit share of the standard PC market in 2016 is still reachable?
Ian Drew: Yes. We still think we can achieve a double-digit market share of the PC industry in the next four years. This is a new space for us. The tablet industry is still growing rapidly. People use the same CPU [central processing unit] in tablets as they are doing with clamshell computers.
[To reach our goal,] We are working with operating system companies. We are working with software companies. You’ve seen Chrome. You’ve seen Windows RT. We will continue along the same lines.
I’m very optimistic about it [Windows RT].
It is clearly one of the biggest strategies that, along with Chromebooks, has helped us gett into the PC area.
Actually, we already hold a double-digit share in the market in the PC industry, if you include tablets. [Including tablets, ARM said it holds up to a 30 percent share.]
TT: Can you update us on ARM’s server chip market? Have any goals been set?
Drew: It is more a long-term goal. We want to see real trials with real data centers next year. At the moment, we are conducting small trials with a few data centers.
Next year, we want to see large-scale trials with big data center guys.
We hope to achieve a double-digit market share within the next three to five years. We are already working with all major data center operators.
You’ve seen that some of them, like Facebook, have signed up for the Linaro. [Linaro is a non-profit group that develops open source software for the ARM architecture, including ARM-based servers.]
TT: With which process technology will ARM’s new Cortax A50 processors for servers be made? When will mass production for this processor start?
Nandan Nayampally (director of ARM’s CPU product marketing divison): It will be in 2014. We may see samples in 2013. Realistically speaking, for mass production in that time frame, we expect especially the leading-edge processors for mass production to be 20-nanometer and possibly go into the 16-nanometer,
However, as ARM sells porthole IPs, you will possibly see early silicons on 20-nanometer and future silicons on even more aggressive process nodes.
[Nayampally’s remarks indicated that ARM’s Cortax A50 series processors could be the first product in mass production on the advanced 16-nanometer FinFet technology from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in 2014. TSMC said earlier this year that it shipped the first test chips for ARM’s processors on its FinFet transistors.]
TT: As analysts are forecasting that low-cost smartphones will be the new driving force for the world’s smartphone market next year, will this trend have a positive, or negative impact on ARM?
Drew: I think there is a number of different phones. There is the super phones that everybody talks about and that is about US$400 per unit. And there is a US$150 small phone, which runs applications and can access the Internet. And we’ve designed some products for that as well. And we see big growth in that area.
We also see some growth for the US$400 phone as well. So, yes, ARM will benefit from both areas.
TT: Does ARM have any presence or partners in China?
Drew: In China, we are working closely with several semiconductor companies like Spreadtrum Communications (展訊), Huawei (華為), ZTE (中興), and a new company called Ellecore.
We are working with a lot of tablet companies.
TT: In this morning’s keynote speech, you mentioned new developments in smart lighting, smart meters and automotive chips. Which of these new developments will grow fastest? And you said those new platforms could help conserve energy by between 20 percent to 30 percent.
Drew: Lighting will develop fastest. We already have a trial running in the UK. Think along the lines of intelligent lamp posts. All lamps will be connected to a center hub.
We are working with local governments and local companies [on this project.]
So far, the trial is going well. [However,] we just sell the IP to chip companies, we are not going to buy lighting companies.