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Strong ARM bulges to take more market share

As we’ve said before on KitGuru, companies communicate in a lot of different ways. The press release is one and the annual report is another. While these don’t normally contain downright lies, they are certainly spun in a very specific/positive way. But what about recruitment? It’s tough to spin job offers. KitGuru scans the job centre ads for useful clues.

Despite the best efforts of 3 Republicans (Collins, Flake and Paul), the Sarbanes-Oxley act was passed into US law in 2002 with the backing of a grateful world. While its key focus was on ‘honest accounting’, it has – overall – really helped companies clean up their act when it comes to communicating with the outside world. Even so, a company saying that “Everything is fine and dandy” in a report is one thing – but going to market with a bunch of job requirements that need to be filled by expensive/experienced personnel – is another. It’s still a little more honest. In our humble opinion.

Right now, ARM is recruiting heavily. How heavily?  Well,right now, it’s not only looking for close to 200 additional personnel – it’s also recruiting for additional human resourcing personnel to help it cope.

To put that into context, taking on that number of people represents an increase in personnel of almost 10% – at a time when it’s closest competitors seem to be engaged in a recruitment freeze (or ‘extreme slowdown, while shedding staff’).

Scan through the jobs on offer, for example in Cambridge, and you can see where ARM will be attacking the market next, “The Media Processing Division (MPD) in ARM has the mission to be at the forefront of advanced multimedia IP products for the consumer, wireless and automotive infotainment markets”.

At a time when Intel and AMD are putting out scant few press releases about major design wins for the in-car entertainment, hand held or in-home-embedded markets, ARM is actively recruiting a lot more people to its Mali division. And not all of them are engineers. Nope. It’s also hiring ‘cultivation specialists’. People who will fertilise the market into being happy with what ARM delivers.

Now you know a little more about ARM’s present position and near-future ambitions, here’s an interesting question: How much has nVidia, AMD and Intel invested in developing graphics technology in order to compete in today’s market?

We’re going to guess ‘Hundreds of millions of dollars’. With Larrabee in there as well, we’re confident of that figure.

So what’s the basis of the all-conquering Mali-graphics solution being sold into every market across the globe by ARM?

“The company [Falanx] was founded in 2001 when the four founders, Jørn Nystad, Mario Blazevic, Edvard Sørgård and Borgar Ljosland, graduated from NTNU Computer line. They had been working on the technology since 1998, and with support from Innovation Norway, it was their summer job to develop the technology”.

It seems that Jørn is a bit of an uber-guru when it comes to 3D and circuit design. The basis of Mali was a scribble on a piece of paper one cold autumn morning. Slightly less expensive that Larrabee, we’d guess.

This info comes from a snippet of an interview carried by Digi.no and was posted by Arjan de Lumens into a thread on Beyond3D in 2006.  Take Jørn’s original scribble through to the point where it was being sold into the mass market and ARM bought Falanx out for something like $30m, you have to say that as a ‘pure return on investment’ – this has to go down as one of the most amazing buys of all time.

When Kyle Bennett from Hard[OCP] interviewed Borgar Ljosland, Falanx’ President and CEO, back in 2005, he concluded that the Norwegian’s approach to 3D was way outside the box, but “…outside the box is exactly what the industry needs”. Good spot Kyle.

At the time of posting, nVidia has surrendered to the ARM core – but not yet to the Mali 3D, while AMD is in the throws of a difficult re-birth and Intel is struggling to put the cool concepts it’s developed for $1,000 chips into a telephone processor. ARM just seems to have been ‘standing in the right 3D place, waiting for the low-power world to arrive’ for some time.

So let's get this straight: Intel, AMD and nVidia will assemble the most powerful team of graphics engineers ever seen and ARM will be fielding 4 chaps from Norway and the prize is 'Global graphics domination'. OK. Sounds fair. Game on.

KitGuru says: With a strong emphasis on Mali and the embedding of ultra-low-power 3D into a range of devices that have never been computerised to this extent in the past, can ARM create the Computing Continuum ahead of Intel?

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