back to article Muscle chip strength leaves ARM shouldering meaty profit

ARM, the eponymous designer of the chip architecture, had a stonking 2011 with revenue and profits up as it tightened its hold on both embedded and generic computing. Revenue for the last quarter of 2011 was up by more than 20 per cent on the previous year, to £137.8m, while profit before tax jumped more than twice that …

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Silver badge

Why would anyone care about Windows on ARM?

Legacy software won't run on ARM even with Windows (you could try wine+qemu-x86_64). It took ages for vendors to recompile for x86-64, so I would not hold my breath waiting for ports to ARM/Windows. Micronokia phones don't sell unless they are Meego. There is already plenty of software for ARM. Microsoft's only hope would be to require manufactures to lock the boot loaders to Windows.

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I care about windows on ARM

On a purely selfish note, I'm looking forward to being able to buy an ARM-powered laptop or desktop box as easily as an x86 one. If Windows gets the likes of Lenovo, Dell, and HP to produce them then it's done the world a favour.

As for software, developers are well accustomed to supporting multiple platforms and architectures. Mac apps didn't just disappear when they moved to x86.

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Anonymous Coward

Two reasons to care about Windows on ARM

1) If Microsoft can define an ARM platform standard in the way that PC99 and so on were defined and resulted in reasonably compatible base platforms for x86 PCs, and if system builders implement the ARM/MS standard widely, it makes ARM even more attractive. Which would be good.

2) If the MS-defined standard includes cryptographically secure booting so you can only boot Windows easily (or at all), then the opposite applies. Which would not be good.

Windows on ARM is of very little interest, it's what it brings (or may bring) with it.

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Anonymous Coward

"so you can only boot Windows easily (or at all)"

should have been more like

so the only OS you can install/boot easily is Windows (others will be more tedious, perhaps very much more tedious) ...

fixed it for me

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Silver badge
Linux

more reasons to care about windows on ARM

Windows+Office on ARM would beat Android on ARM on the Transformer form-factor (i.e. ultra-portable) in the enterprise. No legacy apps on Android, no legacy apps on Windows so its a standing start there. Add to that a withering of Exchange sync facilities on android and iOS and you have a windows-on-ARM winning strategy for Transformers (in the enterprise) which will provide a jump point to "normal" tablets and then to phones, although MS don't *have* to win in the tablet & phone market.

Of course, if MS go for lockdown and restrictive licensing like Apple, that will inhibit things like VLC and mplayer and make things far more difficult for themselves.

MS has more than enough cash to buy into this market by subsidising the hardware. They have far more to lose by letting Android and Linux have the ultra-portable & ARM desktop market than they have lost by letting Apple get the phone/tablet market. MS can easily afford to compete with "free" in this emerging market to make sure Windows doesn't relegated to "not the standard." In fact it needs to do so or it will start to lose its desktop hegemony.

The question is whether it can do the execution well.

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Bronze badge
Headmaster

7.85 billion chips, not 2.2 billion

"Those numbers come on the back of 2.2 billion ARM-powered chips being sold globally in 2011"

That's the Q4 results, not the full year:

"Q4 revenue came from the sales of about 2.2 billion ARM technology-based chips, the highest-ever number of ARM-processor based shipments."

http://ir.arm.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=197211&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1654432

ARM shipped 1.85 billion in Q1, 1.9 billion in Q2, 1.9 billion in Q3, and now 2.2 billion in Q4. That's 7.85 billion for 2011 in total.

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Silver badge

Tiny profits, great margins

Given that El Reg recently described Samsung's $4 Bio. profits as a drop in the in ocean compared with Apples, we must regard ARM's revenue and profits as risible in comparison to Apple and Intel. Except those margins. Fuck me: 50 %! I bet shareholders are very pleased.

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ARM is a much smaller company than the likes of Apple or Intel. If you want to compare to Intel then you consider ARM together with licensees who produce ARM-based chips which are Intel's direct competitors.

And today's results were already baked in to the share price. The really happy shareholders are those of us who bought at 2008/9 prices below a quid :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Youngsters might not be aware...

But Windows NT (which is the basis of all Windows after Win 9x) has been implemented on many processors in it's lifetime, I well remember sorting through the CDs for the x86 ones.

More info' here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_NT

"...the name was taken from the original target processor—the Intel i860, code-named N10 ('N-Ten')..." and "Various versions of NT family operating systems have been released for a variety of processor architectures, initially Intel IA-32, MIPS R3000/R4000, and Alpha, with PowerPC, Itanium, AMD64 and ARM supported in later releases."

With a uniform OS API and code written almost entirely in high-level compiled languages, there is no problem porting an application to any particular processor, it's nothing new and no big deal.

Having a range of platforms with one familiar Windows OS is far from a problem (unless you're Apple).

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Silver badge

Was abandoned long ago. On the desktop the push to move things like graphics into the kernel has made Windows a lot less portable.

In theory CLR technologies on .Net should make running any app on anything trivial but in practice they drop down to either very platform specific DirectX code or ancient GDI legacy as soon as you need to do anything useful.

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Silver badge
Coat

So what happened next Paul

Looking at to day I have a feeling you are speaking about Linux.

This:

"With a uniform OS API and code written almost entirely in high-level compiled languages, there is no problem porting an application to any particular processor, it's nothing new and no big deal."

is about Linux not Windows only it is the low-level-high-level compiled languages that do the trick.

Funny really how this high-level or high-level-low-level or high-low-level makes no sense unless you skip the "high-low-level" rubbish and speak about the language used.

Also you seem to be totally mixed up with porting an OS or porting an application.

But never mind, also the apple must have dropped on your head accidentally.

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Pint

Back in the 90s...

I had an Acorn Risc-PC that as well as having an ARM processor also had a hardware PC card with an X86 chip on it.

One of my favourite demonstrations of the superiority of the ARM chip over its X86 cousin was to take out both processor cards and let people see the physical difference between the bulky X86 with its cumbersome heatsink and the low-profile, cool and slimline chip (no heatsink required) that was the ARM.

It's a real shame that Intel (and later AMD) captured the desktop market the way they did largely thanks to the marketing power of the mighty Micro$oft, because ARM always has been the better design.

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