From the new Apple M1 powered Macs to the Microsoft Surface Pro X I've been using, ARM-based computers are the new craze in mobile computing. The Surface Pro X was Microsoft's second big consumer push to get into the ARM platform and it really nails the essentials. Microsoft provides a fast and stable Windows on ARM experience, which is impressive despite the underpowered hardware on Microsoft’s latest SQ2-based machine. At the same time, some important features are missing while we wait for proper 64-bit emulation to arrive. That makes the price harder to swallow, but I've still really liked using the Surface Pro X.
Last week it came to light that SoftBank may be trying to sell chipset design firm ARM, and according to a new report from Bloomberg, Nvidia could be interested. Citing the usual "people with knowledge," Nvidia has apparently approached ARM to court a deal with the Cambridge company.
SoftBank is reportedly assessing spin-off options for its semiconductor firm, Arm Holdings. The Wall Street Journal reports from its sources that those options include having an initial public offering or a sale. The Japanese tech conglomerate picked up Arm back in 2016 for $32 billion and currently shares some ownership with investors in the SoftBank Vision Fund.
Today, Arm has revealed a whole new lineup of chip component designs that we can look forward to landing in upcoming SoCs from companies like Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung, and even Google itself — if prior leaks are true. This new generation of designs includes the Cortex-A78 CPU, Mali-G78 and G68 GPU, Ethos-N78 NPU, and a new Cortex-X1 which the company bills as "the most powerful Cortex CPU" and the result of a whole new custom CPU program it's offering.
Late last week, the Statesman reported that Samsung is shutting down its CPU design division at one of its Austin R&D facilities, laying off 290 employees. This corroborates month-old leaks that the company was downsizing its CPU design branch, responsible for Samsung's in-house Exynos series chipsets.
Today ARM has announced four new IP designs for the mainstream market that promise to improve users' experience in several ways: faster and more responsive smart assistants, higher performance and longer-lasting mobile gaming, and display technology in various sizes with sharper visuals and better performance.
According to Google, more than half of the highest priority security vulnerabilities faced by Android 9 Pie have been due to memory safety bugs. New features in Android Q such as IntSan instrumentation are designed to mitigate against such problems, but there's only so much that can be achieved by software alone. Google has therefore teamed up with chip-maker Arm to develop a new hardware feature called the memory tagging extension (MTE).
Just a few days after the US added Huawei to its "Entity List," things are continuing to go south for the Chinese manufacturer. The demise began with Google announcing it would put an end to its partnership with the company, and continued with major chip manufacturers blacklisting it. Although Huawei is trying to mitigate the first issue by working on an in-house operating system, hardware related bans are much more complex to overcome.
Samsung might use Qualcomm chips in most of its North American phones, but everyone else gets the company's custom Exynos chips. The last-gen Exynos 9810 had some issues, but Samsung aims to rectify that with a substantial redesign of the new 9820. It's still using custom CPU cores alongside low-power ARM reference designs, but there's a third cluster of high-power ARM cores as well.