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ARM cores leg it into body of Big Blue, rub shoulders with Power network chips

British Cortexes licensed to thrill communications silicon

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IBM has announced it is licensing a basket of processor designs from ARM for its network equipment division.

The new deal means Big Blue can make use of ARM's Cortex-A15, Cortex-A12, Cortex-A7 and Cortex-M4 cores, as well as the ARM Mali-450 graphics processing unit. These are aimed at beefy phone and tablet chips, and IBM wants them to hopefully build better networks for mobile operators and the like.

"IBM is a top provider of custom-built, system-on-a-chip technology to communications companies - the silicon technology that has powered much of the mobile computing revolution," said Steve Ray, VP of microelectronics at Big Blue in a canned statement.

"With the addition of ARM's advanced 32-bit microprocessors and peripherals to our Power-based offerings, our clients will now have the broadest array of leading silicon technology and design services available - giving them the ability to create the next generation of communications hardware."

The new technology will perhaps boost IBM's continuing attempts to make its Power chip platform more relevant. While IBM has had a lot of success building networking and communications chips using the Power architecture, augmenting that with some ARM technology won't hurt.

"IBM's manufacturing leadership and expertise in semiconductor innovation means that this agreement will result in a highly competitive portfolio of custom ARM-based solutions being deployed by leading networking infrastructure companies worldwide," said Tom Cronk, general manager of ARM's processor division.

"Building on their longstanding engagement on ARM Artisan Physical IP, IBM's extensive commitment to ARM Cortex CPU and ARM Mali GPU technology reflects the increasing demand for optimized-for-function, energy efficient platforms." ®

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