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ARM rolls out new GPU, loses head

One 18 months from market, one leaving in May

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One of ARM's founders, not to mention a co-designer of the eponymous chip, will be retiring from his presidential role next year to spend more time with his money, though not until May.

Tudor Brown has been at ARM 21 years, and was at Acorn before that, where he worked on the ARM chip. That chip was designed for the Archimedes computer, but destined for mobile computing ubiquity and the design now underlines just about every piece of mobile computing we use.

Brown is 52, but Forbes reckons he pocketed more than £778,000 in 2010 – so can probably afford to retire. He's still on the UK Government Asia Task Force and will, no doubt, pop up in similar roles as retirement often sits badly with such people.

ARM, meanwhile, has announced a new graphic processor, the Mali T658, which ramps up performance by a quoted four times from its immediate predecessor.

ARM doesn’t make chips, or anything else. It licenses the designs and allows companies to incorporate ARM technologies into their own System On A Chip (SoC) for incorporating into devices. So the iPhone's A5 processor has a (licensed) ARM core, but the graphics capabilities are bought from elsewhere and combined into a single piece of silicon.

Samsung's Galaxy S II, in contrast, uses a core designed by ARM and a graphics processor also designed by ARM, the Mali 400MP. ARM's new GPU is, apparently, 10 times faster than the one in the S II.

But it will be a couple of years (18 months according to ARM) before we see mobile phones incorporating the T658 design, as chip builders will have to design-in the GPU.

Licensing designs has proved hugely successful for ARM, which is still based in Cambridge and is a proper British success story. A long way from making chips for the BBC B's successor, as Tudor Brown would no doubt attest. ®

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