ARM has recently made a huge announcement that its ecosystem partners have shipped over 200 billion chips based on its architecture. This number is truly massive however at the same time it’s not surprising as ARMs chips dominate the markets of microcontrollers and smartphones.
However, even though ARM is the world’s most popular CPU architecture, there are a lot of challenges ahead of it. Nowadays it is close to impossible not to use at least one Arm-based device throughout the day, and it’s one of a few companies with technologies that can power almost any device.
It took the ARMs partners about 23 years — from 1991 to 2014 — to ship the first 50 billion chips, then it took them three years — from 2014 to 2017 — to ship another 50 billion. Now, however, it took them only about 4.5 years to ship 100 billion chips. The growth rate of an ARM is still growing.
And since the trends AI, HPC, edge computing, robotics, and IoT are still growing, it’s expected that Arm’s partners could ship the trillionth Arm-based chip within the next 10 years. The company has managed to give the Arc and MIPS CPU architectures a run for their money and now has went leagues ahead of its competition.
“Qualcomm, despite its close partnership with Microsoft on Windows OS, couldn’t make a dent in the notebook PC market so far. Qualcomm is investing heavily in the computing market with its Nuvia acquisition, and we will see results only in 2023. In the near term, Qualcomm can focus on Chromebooks to capture share from MediaTek. Strategy Analytics believes that Arm-based notebook PC processor vendors will need to step up software investment and branding efforts to compete effectively with x86-based vendors Intel and AMD.”
When it comes to the server market ARM has numerous ambitious partners like Ampere that are developing server SoCs, but software compatibility is something that slows down the adoption of such chips. But the situation is improving as AWS and Oracle have started to deploy their own or Ampere’s processors.
But now, ARM has to worry about the up-and-coming RISC-V architecture, which holds a key advantage over Arm which is that it is royalty-free and many designs are open source and free. If a company manages to develop a software stack for RISC-V, then it can successfully migrate from ARM to RISC-V chips to save some money.
We have already seen the Cupertino California-based tech giant, Apple, which is ironically one of Arm’s most important customers, has started to explore the possibilities of RISC-V and is looking forward to implementing RISC-V hardware in the coming years.
However, it’s still too soon for RISC-V solutions to challenge Arm in the performance-demanding space and ARM has plenty of time to improve its performance and increase its market presence and establish a strong dominance.
Arm’s CPU architecture has become the world’s most pervasive ISA and probably outsold all of the famous architectures such as Arc, MIPS, Power, and x86, combined.