Time was when a great many companies had their own processor architectures. It was a pinnacle of electronic and semiconductor achievement and many digital engineers wanted to have a crack at designing one and feeling the glow of watching software execute on an electronic machine of their own devising.
As we know, success breeds volume and volume provides cash to keep chip development riding the down escalator that is Moore's Law.
Intel has been successful as has ARM. Other architectures are available, as well as multiple implementers. And then there is the application-specific specialization of processors for such things as graphics rendering and other activities.
The system-on-chip era, where the processor is just one part of a larger application-specific chip, changed the business dynamic. Gradually, more and more companies have started to gain time-to-market and cost advantages over their competition by licensing a pre-developed processor core from MIPS, ARC, ARM, Imagination and some others.
But of these, ARM has been the most successful by far.
But what happens when everyone is designing their SoCs with cores licensed from ARM? Where is the differentiation? Where is the time to market advantage?
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