BBC Micro B lives on: Strong growth for ARM after increased tablet and smartphone use

British microchip design firm ARM Holdings has posted stronger than expected second quarter results off the back of strong growth in smartphone and tablet sales.

According to The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, two billion ARM designed chips were shipped during the second quarter, representing a 9% year-on-year growth in volume, despite a 4% contraction of the global semiconductor industry. The company reported a 48% growth in net profit to £39.4 million pounds ($A59.46m).

ARM, originally known as Acorn RISC Machines, is the corporate descendent of 1980s computer maker Acorn, who were best known for the BBC Micro B computer. In the early 1990s, Acorn spun off its chip design division as Advanced RISC Machines, in order to continue to develop the custom CPU used in Acorn’s Archimedes line of computers (the Archimedes was a successor to the BBC Micro B).

While ARM itself doesn’t manufacture CPUs, the basic architecture used in the Archimedes CPU today forms the basis of the microchip designs ARM supplies to a number of tablet and smartphone chipmakers, including NVidia, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and Freescale. Microchips based on ARM designs power most modern tablets and smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone and iPad, as well as most Android devices, including Samsung’s Galaxy series.

However, ARM faces stronger competition in the future, with Intel announcing that it intends to use modified desktop PC x86 CPUs to try to gain a foothold in the smartphone and tablet market.

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