ARM, the renowned British semiconductor company, is reportedly making a bold move by entering the competitive world of chip manufacturing. According to industry sources cited by Financial Times, Arm is currently in the process of prototyping its own chipset, putting itself in direct competition with established players like Samsung’s Exynos, Qualcomm, and MediaTek. This development puts Arm in an interesting position as a chip designer while also potentially disrupting the semiconductor industry.
While Arm has previously created test chips, this latest prototype is said to be more advanced than ever before. As a company traditionally known for designing and supplying chip blueprints rather than manufacturing its own chips, Arm’s foray into chip production is a significant shift in strategy.
Arm’s business model involves licensing its chip designs to other companies, including Samsung and Qualcomm. This means that popular processors like the Exynos 2200 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 both utilize ARM Cortex CPU cores designed by Arm. With Arm potentially becoming a direct competitor to these companies, it raises questions about how this shift will impact its relationships with existing partners.
If Arm successfully enters the chip manufacturing space, it could potentially disrupt the status quo and introduce new competition to the market. This move not only showcases Arm’s ambition but also signifies a significant development in the semiconductor industry. As Arm continues to advance its prototype, the tech world eagerly awaits further updates to see how this potential rivalry unfolds and its potential implications for the industry as a whole.
The majority of Arm’s revenue comes from developing semiconductors and selling the designs to other businesses. Additionally, it lacks a foundry, so Arm would need to hire a chipmaker like Samsung or TSMC if it wanted to build and produce its own chip to rival Exynos and Snapdragon.
On the one hand, producing Arm chips could be profitable for industry titans like Samsung Foundry and TSMC. On the other hand, Arm would compete in a way that would harm its chip-designing business, going against its longtime allies (including Samsung).
These factors lead some insiders in the industry to conclude that Arm’s new prototype chip is not intended for mass manufacturing and commercialization as a Snapdragon or Samsung Exynos rival. The chip is primarily intended as a show of strength; a trial run to highlight Arm’s skill and the capabilities of its designs.
Regardless, according to sources, Kevork Kechichian, a veteran of the chip business who has had positions with Qualcomm and NXP Semiconductors in the past, is leading Arm’s prototype project. Kechichian joined Arm’s top executive team in February. The prototype chips are being made by a new “solutions engineering” division at Arm, however there may be more for other functions and device kinds.