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ARM jingling with cash as its chips get everywhere

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Cambridge-based ARM holdings is celebrating a fine start to 2011, with more money coming in from more markets as its chip designs continue to fill everything that is not a desktop computer.

The first three months of 2011 saw revenue up by almost 30 per cent (to £116m) leading to an operating profit of more than £50m - a margin well over 40 per cent thanks to the fact that ARM licenses technology rather than building stuff. But that technology is popping up in even more places as the industry looks away from the traditional computing environment.

Broadcom and LG Electronics joined the list of ARM licensees this year, taking the total to 39 companies able to manufacture chips based on the ARM architecture. Such chips are already powering the vast majority of smartphones (including the iPhone and Android handsets) as well as their less-endowed brethren – ARM really has the phone market sewn up.

The rise in tablet computing isn't doing ARM any harm, as all the popular tablet platforms are ARM-based, and the company is looking forward to the growing market in set top boxes as another opportunity to shift licensed chips.

Mobile tablets and phones consumed 1.15 billion of such ARM-based processors in the first three months of 2011, with another 700 million being shipped in televisions, disk drives and all sorts of consumer kit.

The older ARM processors turn up in the strangest of places, being really cheap and very reliable, though often you'd have a hard time noticing. Companies such as Samsung license the ARM designs to embed them in their own processors, using the latest design in the A4 that it makes for Apple's iPhone, and earlier models for chips destined for televisions, ereaders and everything else that's taking computing power out of computers. ®

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