ARM technology is at the heart of a computing and connectivity revolution that is transforming the way people live and businesses operate. From the unmissable to the invisible; our advanced, energy-efficient processor designs are enabling the intelligence in 86 billion silicon chips and securely powering products from the sensor to the smartphone to the supercomputer.
In the interview with Mr. Guru Genesan, President & Managing Director of ARM India discusses ARM growth in India, key markets and industry outlook.
Softbank acquired ARM in last year, the biggest tech deal. What you would like to say about this and what is the rationale behind it?
The SoftBank Group and ARM have enabled technology that is at the heart of a computing and connectivity revolution. In 2016, the total number of ARM-based chips shipped by our partners was 16.7 Billion. Every day, more than 45 million ARM-based chips are shipped by ARM partners into products enabling consumers and businesses around the world. The SoftBank Group provides mobile and fixed-line connectivity to over 100 million people and devices in Japan and the U.S., offers numerous Internet services and is pioneering new ventures in AI, smart robotics and IoT.
Both the Softbank Group and ARM, the leading pioneers in each respective industry, have the shared vision and ambition, driven to empower the world with technology that makes life easier, safer and more fulfilling. We believe that technology should advance for the benefit of humanity. With Softbank’s support, ARM is able to be more focused on technology advancement in which we can further push our shared goal “Realizing the Information Revolution that bring happiness to everyone” to come true. This is the rationale behind the deal. It is also the vision that ARM would like to achieve in the future.
Which are ARM’s main growth markets?
Smartphone (mobile) is still the key segment for ARM due to our unique business model. Even though the smartphone market does not have the same explosive growth of 20+% CAGR as in previous years, it is still the main segment for us. ARM is still benefiting from our latest technologies such as ARMv8, multicore and Mali graphics.
On the other hand, as VR/AR applications become the key feature for most smartphone, it further pushes mainstream smartphones adopt higher performance CPU and VR/AR support GPU in the coming years.
Apart from mobile, ARM targets four key segments that we believe will get bigger market shares over the next few years.
– Networking infrastructure equipment from base stations to the core of the network to tie-in 5G era
– Servers in data centers running applications in both public and private clouds and in high-performance computing
– Microcontrollers and connected sensors that make up the internet of things
– And automotive applications as self-driving cars become supercomuters on wheels
Moving to 2017, what is your special focus?
In India, wearables, smart embedded, automotive and industrial automation will be our main focuses. As IoT presence becomes more profound in the next couple of years, we believe smart embedded will be next potential market for ARM in India. We are expecting an explosion of connected, smart controller chips along with sensors and low energy wireless communication devices. And that is going to benefit not only existing companies but also many smaller companies who have a niche solution in this fast growing market. With the government’s focus on manufacturing through “Make in India” program, industrial automation will be key in India to improve overall efficiency in manufacturing for a new era of economic growth and competitiveness. In the industrial automation, IoT will play a major role; In addition to automation in factory, industry IoT will drive energy, water, transportation and waste management, supply chain management, security, robotics, agriculture production and remote real-time monitoring and control of industrial processes.
Automotive is being considered as the next mobile platform; Vehicles have huge application software that are now updatable and also the security upgradable. Like mobile, with leading tools ecosystem, ARM provides a common platform for automotive across all electronics and support system. SoC companies such as Renesas, NXP, Xilinx, Cypress, have launched their ARM-based automotive solutions. We also focus more on security, functional safety, ADAS and IVI & Cockpit applications in automotive area.
Which are your key products and technologies?
ARM has introduced a number of offerings of scalable, secure, efficient technology for the next phase of the IoT, enabling fast and secure deployment from chip to cloud. The IoT solutions include the new Cortex-M family cores Cortex-M23 and Cortex-M33, thefirst two CPUs based on ARM-v8 M architecture, bringing TrustZone to Cortex-M products. New system IP solutions include CoreLink SIE-200 and CoreLink SSE-200, TrustZone CryptoCell-312, Cordio IP, mbed Cloud and Artisan POP IP.
ARM’s IoT offering enables startups, OEMs, service providers and market leading Silicon vendors an optimized, secure solution that mitigates risk and accelerates time to market. The mbed Cloud offering delivers a similar critical service platform on which a lot of value added IoT services can be delivered. Similar to TrustZone with a standard API that helps simplifying and broadening the use of security, TrustZone for ARMv-M and mbed Cloud deliver platform to scale solutions and services for IoT.
On the other hand, as increasing number of AR/VR applications become available and more commercialized, it will become a standard feature in mainstream mobile devices. Mainstream mobile devices will also be able to bring immersive experience for a broader users. ARM announced Cortex-A73 and Mali-G71 in the mid of 2016 targeting those mainstream devices in 2017 which can bring VR/AR immersive experience to everyone. Furthermore, to better address Generation Z demands for more immersive and interactive visual content on mobile devices, we announced Mali-V61 video processing unit (VPU) for stunning, real-time 4K120 video performance with impressive efficiency and scalability and the Mali-G51 graphics processing unit (GPU), ARM’s most area-efficient and energy-efficient GPU to date. All these offerings are able to push mobile experience to a new level.
What is your outlook on semiconductor industry overall?
The 1st key trends this year I would like to highlight is IoT security, which becomes analogous to white blood cells that attack viruses as IoT device platforms are secured via preventative maintenance methods enabled by machine learning. The industry works to develop IoT security standards, machine learning will find the patterns as the IoT feeds in data and quickly identify and filter out threats.
AI and big data continue to be the focus for semiconductor industry in 2017 for sure. To truly predict the future, we need to digitize the present. As a result of this, the creation of the digital universe accelerates in 2017. In this new digital universe, IoT feeds in data from the real world. Then AI techniques are applied to this data to help people and businesses make better decisions.
Autonomous vehicles are another key trend in 2017, especially most local governments will accelerate enabling an infrastructure optimized for autonomous vehicles to bring smart features to life much faster and easier.
In terms of mobile side, we believe VR application will further enter our daily lives such as applied to concerts, sports events and etc. We might be able to see there will be VR seats sold for 2018 SuperBowl event.
In 2017, we will also see the beginning of a shift from consumer driven purchases of medical & fitness wearables to a B2B driven market. According to our prediction, at least 50% of Fortune 100 companies will roll out employee wellness incentive programs funding the purchase of fitness trackers justified by the correlation between increased physical activity and better health, resulting in lower costs.
As for the overall outlook of semiconductor industry for 2017, I believe the overall market prospects are very positive this year due to most applications regarding IoT, automotive, VR/AR enabled smartphone devices which all generate demands. Gartner also just announced, it predicts for 2017 semiconductor industry. It is expected that worldwide semiconductor revenues are forecast to total US$364.1 billion in 2017, an increase of 7.2% from 2016. The semiconductor industry only has 1.5% growth in 2016, which represents a total turnaround this year. It also highlights IoT is the key application to drive the overall revenue increase for semiconductor industry this year.
How are you competing in the market? What are the main challenges?
I am confident that technological leadership and an innovative business model are the key advantages for us to compete in each market. It used to have individual semiconductor companies design each CPU by themselves, inevitably resulting in enormous cost spending in R&Ds. ARM has transformed the semiconductor industry to become greatly efficient. I believe our unique positioning and business model continue to be our may strength to compete in the market.
On the other hand, ARM is committed to a vibrant ecosystem, full of choice for our partners. Ecosystem is our strong backup to enable more opportunities in each segment. We still face challenges in certain markets, such as server/datacenter. We still need to complement our software ecosystem in the server/datacenter area. But we are confident about the current progress, we already worked with 3 out of 5 leading global datacenters for pilot projects. Partners such as Qualcomm, Cavium, Socionext all launched their ARM-based server chips last year. We definitely meet challenges in those markets, but our unique positioning will attract more partners to join us and together to explore more potential opportunities for both of us, to reach the win-win situation.