Microsoft licenses ARM architecture

ARM announced today that they have signed a new licensing agreement with Microsoft.

The deal extends an existing relationship between the two companies. Since 1997, Microsoft and ARM have worked together on software and devices across the embedded, consumer and mobile spaces. ARM designs low powered processors and integrated chips for mobile devices and appears to be allowing Microsoft to specify and customise chips. This deal should allow for more efficient and integrated hardware/software experiences from Microsoft and its hardware partners.

What this will actually mean for products from Microsoft is unclear; the details of the agreement are being kept confidential. However, K.D. Hallman, Microsoft general manager, did say thatwith closer access to the ARM technology we will be able to enhance our research and development activities for ARM-based products."

wARM chips are widely used in the mobile device market which could indicate that Microsoft has plans to release their own branded mobile hardware with a dedicated ARM chip, something along the lines of a future Zune device (it currently uses a Tegra chip from Nvidia). Microsoft might also work on a chip that it will offer to OEMs to really get the most of its software. This licensing agreement could be used to get more out of Windows Embedded or Windows Phone or even a future version of Windows, such as 8 or even further into the future. Microsoft could also be aiming to overhaul its Xbox architecture with a new ARM chip.

There is speculation already that Microsoft may plan to start designing and producing its own chips in the same way Apple does with its A4 chip. This deal will certainly allow a closer working opportunity with some of Microsoft’s hardware partners to allow its software to work more efficiently. There will no doubt be much more speculation on what exactly this deal could mean for both companies and what the outcome might be.

The official press release from ARM is live; there is currently no official statement from Microsoft regarding the agreement.

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18 Comments

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Qualcomm still makes awesome chips for the higher end smartphone devices. ARM is old but still is a great CPU device as well.

ARM is a crappy architecture, it was good (almost a decade ago) but now it is rusty and outdated.

In fact, most ARM chipset does not include a proper FPU.

Magallanes said,
ARM is a crappy architecture, it was good (almost a decade ago) but now it is rusty and outdated.

In fact, most ARM chipset does not include a proper FPU.

So what is better then ARM? Intel chips are still power hogs compared to ARM. There currently is nothing better right now in the market place that has a hope of succeeding other then arm. Android, Windows Phone 7, & iOS all use a variant of ARM. You can call anything crappy but the fact of the matter is there is nothing better right now.

Magallanes said,
ARM is a crappy architecture, it was good (almost a decade ago) but now it is rusty and outdated.

In fact, most ARM chipset does not include a proper FPU.

That is because those ARM dont need FPU for what they are used for. The Best thing about ARM is you can design and Customize it with very little difficulties.

iwod said,

That is because those ARM dont need FPU for what they are used for. The Best thing about ARM is you can design and Customize it with very little difficulties.

Yes, ARM do the job but the technology is at the limit. iOS, Android and WindowsCE are ultraoptimized to work with it but the technology himself is struck.

For example, i purchased a pocketpc device 5 years ago, a dell axim running at 600mhz. And now, the top of the line is just a 1ghz cpu. And comparative speaking, a 1ghz ARM cpu is equivalent to a 200-250mhz x86 ATOM. So yes, ARM is painful slow for anything but small task.

Magallanes said,

Yes, ARM do the job but the technology is at the limit. iOS, Android and WindowsCE are ultraoptimized to work with it but the technology himself is struck.

For example, i purchased a pocketpc device 5 years ago, a dell axim running at 600mhz. And now, the top of the line is just a 1ghz cpu. And comparative speaking, a 1ghz ARM cpu is equivalent to a 200-250mhz x86 ATOM. So yes, ARM is painful slow for anything but small task.

Because ghz is everything right? And no the top of the line isn't a 1ghz. Qualcomm already has a 1.4ghz and 2 more are planned before the end of this year (dual core 1.5ghz and a 1.8ghz)

And I'm pretty sure the Quallcomm Snapdragon chip does include a FPU. Because enabling it on WinMo via a hack provides a pretty nice performance boost, would be more if the kernel supported it too. You forget that ARM just licenses out the design, companies like Qualcomm can build upon it and add other features.

Your dell axim had an xscale processor that didn't include an FPU, doesn't mean it couldn't support it.

Magallanes said,
ARM is a crappy architecture, it was good (almost a decade ago) but now it is rusty and outdated.

In fact, most ARM chipset does not include a proper FPU.

B-, please reread last weeks notes on successful trolling.

In my view Microsoft make the best software platform for phones. But I do own an HTC HD2. I hope that they buy the latest Snap Dragon CPU's. Mine is a 1ghz but there is a 1.4 out in the market place.

nub said,
Zune2 sounds cool

It seems like a necessity to have your mp3 player be able to take part in the same marketplace as the phones do. The zuneHD just doesn't have the appropriate buttons nor the screen dimensions to be applicable.

It's the only way forward for both hardware and software companies, im not just commenting on Microsoft and ARM, however for too long the two types have not worked close enough to each other. Now that the computing platform is moving to a more mobile future, it's important that software is optimised to squeeze every bit of power both computing and battery, and that hardware provides the speed and new tech (multiple devices such as memory bus etc on chip).

Wasn't Apple trying to buy out Arm, if so this may be a license to make sure Microsoft has full access to it's technology so Apple can't lock them out latter.

Saul Goodman said,

That was just a silly rumour. There's no benefit for Apple to do so.

I think you mean there's no benefit for ARM to sell out to Apple. If Apple had ARM they can charge all the current users (which is pretty much anyone thats makes mobile products) whatever they want. And those companies would either have to agree, or switch over to something else like Atom (which would just cause incompatibilities with existing mobile software).

/- Razorfold said,

If Apple had ARM they can charge all the current users (which is pretty much anyone thats makes mobile products) whatever they want.

But then the monopoly card gets played and the benefit is lost.

Saul Goodman said,
But then the monopoly card gets played and the benefit is lost.

If the monopoly card gets played, then ARM would have been sued long ago don't you think? Apple doesn't have to license out the technology either, it can just wait till the current licenses expire and then say bye bye.