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Advanced Rise machine or ARM

What is an Arm processor & the History of the company? First ARM means Advanced Rise Machine, which was developed by the company called Arm Limited but before that, it was Aron Ltd. Let's go back in time & let's jump into the Delorean & gun it to 1980's.  Here is a brief history of the company. First I was born in 1983 during the big tech boom. Aron & ARM are the same company & it was set during the booming computer industry in the 1980s. The founders of Acorn Computers Ltd were Christopher Curry and Herman Hauser. Chris Curry was known for working closely with Clive Sinclair of Sinclair Radionics Ltd for over 13 years. After some financial trouble Sinclair sought government help, but when he lost full control of Sinclair Radionics he started a new venture called Science of Cambridge Ltd or later known as Sinclair Research Ltd. Chris Curry was one of the main people in the new venture, but after a disagreement with Sinclair on the direction of the company, Curry decided to leave Sinclair Computers Ltd. Curry soon partnered with Herman Hauser, an Austrian Ph.D. of Physics who had studied English in Cambridge at the age of 15 and liked it so much, returned for his Ph.D. Together they set up CPU Ltd which stood for Cambridge Processing Unit which had such products as microprocessor controllers for fruit machines that could stop crafty hackers from getting big payouts from the machine. They launched Acorn Computers as the trading name of CPU to keep the 2 ventures separate. Apparently, the reasoning behind the naming of Acorn was to be ahead of Apple computers in the telephone directory! Flash forward and a fantastic opportunity can to them to produce a new product for the British government to put a computer in every classroom in Britain. So, Sophie Wilson, and Steve Furber were 2 talented computer scientists from the University of Cambridge who were given the wonderful task of coming up with the microprocessor design for Acorn’s own 32-bit processor with little to no resources. The BBC Micro was born. BBC Micro was launched with a 6502 processor unit in 1981, therefore the design had to be good, but simple – Sophie developed the instruction set for the Arm1 and Steve worked on the chip design. The first-ever Arm design was created on 808 lines basic. Development on the Acorn RISC Machine didn't start until some time around late 1983. The first chip was delivered to Acorn (then in the building we now know as Arm2) on 26th April 1985. The 30th birthday of the architecture is this year! The Acorn Archimedes which was released in 1987, was the first RISC-based home computer.  So, a team inside Aron in the mid-'80s was trying to find a new processor for their next Personal Computer. So, after 18 long months, that team had nothing so they created their own new processor. Around 1990 Aron was not doing that well so they made a side company inside Aron called Advanced Rise Machine. Arm was founded in November 1990  in Cambridge as Advanced RISC Machines Ltd and structured as a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.), and VLSI Technology. The reason for this was because Apple wanted to use Arm technology but didn’t want to base a product on Acorn IP – who, at the time was considered a competitor. Apple invested the cash, VLSI Technology provided the tools, and Acorn provided the 12 engineers and with that Arm was born. In an earlier venture, Hermann Hauser had also created the Cambridge Processor Unit or CPU. While at Motorola, Robin Saxby supplied chips to Hermann at CPU. Robin was interviewed and offered the job as CEO around 1991. In 1993 the Apple Newton was launched on Arm architecture. For anyone that has ever used an Apple Newton, you will know it wasn't the best piece of technology, as unfortunately, Apple overreached for the technology that was available for them at the time - the Newton has flaws that lowered its usability vastly. Due to these factors, Arm realized they could not sustain success on single products, and Sir Robin introduced the IP business model which wasn’t common at the time. The Arm processor was licensed to many semiconductor companies for an upfront license fee and then royalties on production silicon. This made Arm a partner to all these companies, effectively trying to speed up their time to market as it benefited both Arm and its partners. For me personally, this model was one that was never taught to us in school and doesn’t really show its head in the business world much, but it creates a fantastic model of using Arm architecture in a large ecosystem – which effectively helps everyone in the industry towards a common goal; creating and producing cutting edge technology. Next, is the History Lesson is TI, Arm7, and Nokia. A crucial break for Arm came in 1993 with Texas Instruments (TI). This was the breakthrough design that gave Arm credibility and proved the successful viability of the company’s novel licensing business model. The deal drove Arm to formalize its licensing business model and also drove them to make more cost-effective products. Such deals with Samsung and Sharp proved networking within the industry was crucial in infecting enthusiastic support for Arm’s products and in gaining new licensing deals. These licensing deals also led to new opportunities for the development of the RISC architecture. Arm’s relatively small size and dynamic culture gave it a response-time advantage in product development. Arm’s hard work came to fruition in 1994, during the mobile revolution when realistic small mobile devices were a reality. The stars aligned and Arm was in the right place at the right time. Nokia was advised to use an Arm-based system design from TI for their upcoming GSM mobile phone. Due to memory concerns, Nokia was against using Arm because of the overall system cost to produce. This led to Arm creating a custom 16-bit per instruction set that lowered the memory demands, and this was the design that was licensed by TI and sold to Nokia. The first Arm-powered GSM phone was the Nokia6110 and this was a massive success. The Arm7 became the flagship mobile design for Arm and has since been used by over 165 licensees and has produced over 10 Billion chips since 1994.

Nokia 6110 - the first Arm-powered GSM phone (the game snake!)

By the end of 1997, Arm had grown to become a 28 Million private business. Now, it is around 1998 and the company shorted the name to ARM. On April 17th, 1998, Arm Holdings PLC completed a joint listing on the London Stock Exchange and NASDAQ with an IPO at £5.75. The reason for the joint listing was twofold. First, NASDAQ was the market through which Arm believed it would gain the sort of valuation it deserved in the tech bubble of the time which was mainly based out of the states. Second, the two major shareholders of Arm were American and English, and Arm wished to allow existing Acorn shareholders in the UK to have continued involvement. Arm going public caused the stock to soar and turned the small British semiconductor design company into a Billion Dollar company in a matter of months! This company does not have a warehouse where they make the chips. So they own the design of the chip & Arm Limited licenses the architecture out to people like Apple, Samsung Amazon, etc.. so they can develop their own custom-made processors like Apples Silicon. Examples of Arm-based processors include Nvidia’s Tegra chip found inside the Nintendo Switch, & the new Apple Silicon processors for Macs and MacBooks. Qualcomm is one of Arm Limited’s biggest clients & is using the architecture to develop Snapdragon processors that power the vast majority of modern smartphones and tablets. In fact, if you have a small portable computing device, there’s a good chance it’s running on Arm architecture. Why did Apple switch from Intel to their own chips? Well, the efficiency of the RISC means reduced instruction set computing the architecture allows for fewer transistors than the Intel-based x86 processors typically found in laptops and desktop computers, helping Arm-based chips excel at power efficiency and heat dissipation. The main difference between x86 & ARM is the way the computer does the instructions to the computer. An Arm computer has a smaller set of instructions than an x86. But x86 instructions give u the do list all at once and the computer figures out how to go about completing the tasks. That is why u still see them being used in PCs today. In Life, there are Pros & Cons to everything. So x86 uses more energy which uses more heat. On the other hand, Arm uses less energy & less heat to do the task. Arm is in everything from the Nintendo Switch to all smartphones to the Amazon Alexa. Which one is Better x86 or Arm? So, Intel’s x86 CISC (complex instruction set computer) architecture has been traditionally better suited for performance-focused tasks as it can carry out more complex instructions per clock. This made them a natural fit for laptops and desktop PCs, which generally see heavier workloads than the likes of smartphones and tablets. Laptop manufacturers have previously snubbed Arm-based chips as they require huge amounts of RAM and suffer compatibility issues with Windows operating systems, but that’s all looks to be changing. Now RAM is a lot more affordable, and Microsoft has launched Windows 11 which supposedly offers improved support. We’re now at a stage where manufacturers are selling laptops equipped with Arm-based chips, including Samsung’s Galaxy Book S and Lenovo’s Yoga C630 13. These laptops flaunt above-average battery life, new ultra-portable designs, and support for LTE connectivity, and while the CPU performances weren’t quite as good as their Intel x86 counterparts, they were still easily powerful enough for basic tasks such as web browsing, video streaming, and word processing. Arm processors have also started to pop up in laptops making them more efficient with better battery life. Qualcomm has started launching its own Arm-based laptop chips, with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3. These chips are usually found in affordable, mid-range devices such as Chromebooks, with the Intel x86 architecture still dominating the market for high-performance portables. Apple has now released its own Arm-based processor technology, Apple Silicon, and it’s so far demonstrated a superior performance power than similar Intel x86 chips. In fact, the Apple M1-powered MacBook Air is now the most powerful ultrabook you can buy at its price point. Apple has also launched multiple high-performance chips based on Arm architecture, such as the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra. This proves that Arm processors can indeed deliver a very high level of performance, to such an extent that they can compete with Intel x86 processors from AMD and Intel. Arms Future looking bright and I think all devices will run Arm in the future.

My 90's Phone with  Snake on it Arm the Past

iphone Pro Max Arm the Future 

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