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ARM chips

The most widely used microprocessors worldwide. Designed by ARM Holdings plc, Cambridge, England (www.arm.com), the company was founded as Advanced RISC Machines in 1990 by Acorn Computers, Apple and VLSI Technology. In 2016, ARM was acquired by Japan-based Softbank.

ARM chips are 32-bit and 64-bit RISC-based CPUs that are known for their low cost and low power requirements (see RISC). Manufactured under license from ARM by more than a dozen semiconductor companies, billions of ARM-based devices are made every year, including smartphones, tablets, game consoles, e-book readers, netbooks, TVs and myriad other consumer and industrial products.

Quite often, an ARM CPU is the processor in a system-on-chip (see SoC). For example, Qualcomm's Snapdragon and NVIDIA's Tegra are ARM-based smartphone and tablet SoCs.

Cortex, SecurCore and StrongARM
ARM processor families are designated by the prefix "ARM" and a digit, such as ARM7, ARM9 and ARM11 or with names such as Cortex and SecurCore, the latter used for secure identification products such as smart cards.

The StrongARM was a high-speed version of the ARM chip that was jointly developed with Digital Equipment Corporation. The SA-100, the first StrongARM chip, was delivered in 1995, and Intel acquired the technology from Digital in 1997. See StrongARM, Thumb and big.LITTLE.



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