ARM TechCon 2013: How ARM Impacts the Digital Society—Introduction

In the recent ARM TechCon 2013, I attended several keynote speeches. ARM chips are known to consume less energy than other chips, but they are becoming powerful enough to fuel our digital society. To learn more about this trend, I went to hear several keynote speakers at the recent ARM TechCon 2013.

Tom Lantzsch, ARM’s Executive Vice President, Strategy, kick-started the conference.

Tom Lantzsch, ARM’s Executive Vice President, Strategy

He packed a lot of statistics and use cases into his brief speech, which saved me from having to do my own research! Here are some of the highlights, with my comments (ZK) in parentheses:

  • The ARM ecosystem is growing from chips and sensors to servers and everything in between. (ZK: The ecosystem has been emphasized in other speeches too. As Geoffrey Moore said in his book, Crossing the Chasm, the market does not embrace a new technology or product unless it provides a whole product solution. ARM chips alone do not provide many benefits. When they are incorporated into other components, then enterprises, service providers, and end users can enjoy those benefits. The ARM people stressed the importance of creating a strong ecosystem.)
  • ARM chips increase performance, support diversity of equipment/devices, and enable right-sizing for computing. (ZK: ARM chips are being used in servers and other equipment/devices that were considered not fit for what they could provide before. Unlike servers, end devices spread over many different vertical markets, forcing the chips and the software layers on top of them to be tailored to each domain. Downsized chips can be incorporated into elements, such as medicine tablets, in which their use was not even imaginable before.)
  • More than 95% of mobile phones and tablets are powered by ARM chips now. The shipment of smart phones and tablets overtook that of traditional mobile phones in 2013, as shown in the following picture. (ZK: It seems that this trend will continue as the picture suggests. Until the paradigm shifts again, it would be safe to say that the ARM chip dominance will continue.)

  • More than 70% of smart TVs, more than 80% of digital cameras, and more than 95% of gaming consoles are powered by ARM chips.
  • Other areas of impact include automobiles and networks and data centers. (ZK: Many cars in upcoming releases will come with integrated ICT technologies, such as collision avoidance and communications with the Internet. Powerful servers may be replaced with less powerful servers fueled by ARM chips, especially at the Web-centric data centers.)
  • ARM technologies enable Big Data with little data. (ZK: This message was repeated throughout the conference. I think it is a very clever message. People tend to give more attention to the big side of data, but it is created by billions of little pieces of data from countless devices and other equipment. I like Tom’s slide so much that I show it here (below). I also want to stress that we need to make progress on what to do with all these generated and collected data. Data analytics is becoming very important. Some speakers talked about the shortage of people who can understand the Internet of things (Iot) and how to deal with it. I am sure that category of people includes data scientists.

  •  Tom also mentioned that ARM just announced their new GPU, the Mali T700 series. As ARM chips are used in many end devices, like smartphones, it is important to enhance visualization. This new series is meant for that.

Tom’s concluding remark was that we should educate ourselves about the current trends and technologies, get involved, talk to other attendees for further ecosystem development. This was a good introduction to the conference. More to come….

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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