Seeking Alpha

ARM Holdings, plc (ARMH)

  • Mon, Apr. 20, 5:30 PM
  • Thu, Apr. 16, 2:21 PM
    • ARM (ARMH -1.4%) has acquired Wicentric, provider of a software stack and service profiles for the low-power Bluetooth Smart protocol (increasingly used in embedded/wearable devices), and Sunrise Micro (SMD), a developer of radio IP that enables sub-1V Bluetooth operation. Terms are undisclosed.
    • The deals follow the purchase of Dutch embedded security software vendor Offspark and embedded Web connectivity software provider Sensinode.
    • ARM, which is looking to fend off Intel in an embedded/wearables space widely seen as a huge unit growth opportunity, launched its mbed IoT platform last fall, and recently followed up by launching its IFC hardware/software framework for connected ARM-based devices. Q1 results arrive on April 21.
    • See also: New ARM-based Atmel microcontrollers said to enable 10-year battery lives
    | Thu, Apr. 16, 2:21 PM | Comment!
  • Wed, Apr. 1, 5:55 PM
    • Atmel's (NASDAQ:ATML) SAM L21 family of ARM-based (NASDAQ:ARMH) microcontrollers consume less than 35 microamps of power per MHz., far below the 120-160 microamps consumed by most low-power controllers. That, together with a sleep mode power draw of less than 200 nanoamps and various power-saving features, leads Atmel to claim the chips can enable embedded/wearable devices and sensors with battery lives of 10 years or more.
    • The SAM L21, which comes with built-in flash and SRAM, delivered a score of 185 an industry power benchmark - Atmel states that's 50% above its closest competitor (an STMicroelectronics chip).
    • The company argues its support for 5 different "power domains" (compared with just 2 for other chips) with varying levels of resource use improves power efficiency, and that devices containing SAM L21 chips might potentially be powered off energy captured from the human body.
    • In addition to Atmel, Freescale and other ARM microcontroller vendors are working on ultra-low-power chips meant for embedded devices. Intel is going after the opportunity via its tiny Quark CPUs.
    | Wed, Apr. 1, 5:55 PM | 3 Comments
  • Wed, Mar. 25, 12:03 PM
    • Chip stocks are particularly hard-hit  (SOXX -3.6%) on a rough day for tech. The Nasdaq is down 1.3%, and the S&P 0.7%. Going into today, good earnings reports and ongoing M&A activity had led the Philadelphia Semi Index to rise 10% from its Jan. 30 close; the index remains up nearly 2x from its fall 2012 lows.
    • AMD (AMD -7.2%) is a major decliner following a UBS downgrade. AMD rival/GPU giant Nvidia (NVDA -5.2%) and memory giant Micron (MU -3.7%) are also selling off, as are merger partners NXP (NXPI -3.8%) and Freescale (FSL -3.4%), RF chipmakers Avago (AVGO -5.2%), Skyworks (SWKS -5.3%), and Qorvo (QRVO -7.1%), LED/RF chipmaker Cree (CREE -4.1%), and high-flying video processor developer Ambarella (AMBA -4.3%).
    • Other decliners include telecom chipmakers/ARM server CPU vendors Cavium (CAVM -4.8%) and AppliedMicro (AMCC -4.4%), microcontroller vendors Atmel (ATML -3.5%), Cypress (CY -5.5%), and STMicroelectronics (STM -3.5%), voice processor developer Audience (ADNC -3.7%), analog/mixed-signal chipmakers Linear (LLTC -3.7%), Maxim (MXIM -3%), and Intersil (ISIL -3.5%), FPGA maker Lattice (LSCC -3.9%), and mixed-signal/wireless charging IC developer IDT (IDTI -5.4%).
    • Chip equipment, IP, and foundry providers are also underperforming. Big decliners include ARM (ARMH -4.4%), KLA-Tencor (KLAC -4.2%), Lam Research (LRCX -5.4%), ASML (ASML -4.1%), TowerJazz (TSEM -4.3%), Mattson (MTSN -4.5%), Ultratech (UTEK -4.7%), and Tessera (TSRA -6.1%). ASML has been downgraded to Hold by Banco Santander.
    • TSMC (TSM -4.6%) is among the decliners in spite of a Digitimes report stating the foundry giant's sales are expected to rise 0%-5% Q/Q in Q2 - consensus is for a 2% drop - with strong Apple A8 CPU orders offsetting soft Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 orders.
    | Wed, Mar. 25, 12:03 PM | 19 Comments
  • Sat, Mar. 7, 3:26 PM
    • With Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) Grantley Xeon CPU launch and Web data center investments offsetting weak high-end server demand, IDC estimates global server revenue rose 1.9% Y/Y in Q4 to $14.5B, and Gartner estimates it rose 2.2% to $14B; those figures compares with Q3 growth estimates of 4.8% and 1.7%, respectively.
    • Likewise, IDC estimates global enterprise storage revenue rose 7.2% Y/Y in Q4, aided by Web investments and healthy demand for mid-range systems featuring integrated flash. Q3 growth was pegged at 5.1%.
    • IBM had a rough time its both the server and storage markets: IDC believes its storage share fell to 9% (tied for #3) from 12.7% a year earlier, and Gartner estimates its server revenue fell 14% if one excludes Big Blue's x86 server unit, which was just sold to Lenovo. After accounting for the x86 sale, IDC estimates IBM's server share was at 13.7% (#3) vs. 26.8% a year ago.
    • HP (NYSE:HPQ) fared a little better: IDC has its server share falling fractionally to 26.8% (still #1 overall), and its storage share falling to 13.8% (#2) from 14.1%. The company's x86 server unit has been gaining ground against IBM's former business, but its high-end server sales remain weak.
    • Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) UCS server line (recently refreshed) continues to gain ground: Its share rose to 5.3% (#5) from 4.5%, with full-year revenue pegged at $2.9B. With the help of aggressive pricing and x86 growth, Dell's server share rose to 16.7% (#2) from 15.2%, while its storage share slipped to 9% (tied for #3) from 9.2%. Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) claimed a 7.6% server share (#4) thanks to the IBM deal, kicking Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) out of the top-5 along the way.
    • EMC, whose high-end storage sales have been pressured (mid-range/flash demand has been better), saw its storage share drop to 22.2% (still #1) from 23.1%. NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP), which posted an FQ3 miss and light guidance last month amid tough mid-range competition from EMC and others, saw its share drop to 7.2% (#5) from 8%.
    • Not surprisingly, the white-label hardware beloved by Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. continued to take share. IDC estimates such hardware, referred to as ODM Direct, claimed server and storage shares of 8.2% and 12.8% vs. 6.4% and 9.9% a year ago.
    • Sales of x86 servers, the lion's share of which run on Intel CPUs, rose 7.1% to $11.5B. Sales of non-x86 servers fell 14% to $3B, thanks to declining demand for both mainframes and UNIX servers running proprietary RISC CPUs. "Early-stage revenue" was seen for ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) servers, largely via HP's Moonshot line.
    • Other companies with strong server and/or storage exposure: STX, WDC, SMCI, MLNX, AVGO, QLGC, RHT
    | Sat, Mar. 7, 3:26 PM | 8 Comments
  • Mon, Mar. 2, 6:39 PM
    • Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has been busy on the first day of the Mobile World Congress, announcing refreshes (and new names) for its mobile processor and modem lineups, as well as new security software OEM deals and alliances with telecom equipment vendors.
    • Intel's SoFIA baseband/app processor line, aimed at low-end Android devices, has launched as the Atom x3 line. Three processors are offered - one has a dual-core, 1GHz. CPU and 3G modem, another (made by partner Rockchip) a quad-core, 1.2GHz. CPU and 3G modem, and a third a quad-core 1.4GHz. CPU and 4G modem. Notably, SoFIA uses ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) Mali GPU cores, and relies on an older 28nm manufacturing process.
    • Also officially launched: Cherry Trail, the 14nm successor to the 22nm Bay Trail line as Intel's entry for the tablet and small-screen convertible market, and whose processors will be sold under the Atom x5 and x7 monikers.
    • Relatively few details were provided about x5/x7 parts, which leads AnandTech to suspect they're aimed at late 1H15 and 2H15 products. Intel does note x5/x7 processors will sport powerful Gen 8 GPUs, and (as rumored) the company's next-gen Airmont CPU core.
    • The XMM 7360, the latest entry for Intel's standalone baseband modem line, supports Cat-10 LTE (peak speeds of 450Mbps). The prior-gen XMM 7260 topped out at Cat-6 (peak speeds of 300Mbps); Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) unveiled a Cat-10 modem last November.
    • Other announcements: 1) Intel's McAfee unit's VirusScan Mobile software will be pre-installed on Samsung's Galaxy S6, and McAfee's Mobile Security software will be bundled with an LG smartwatch; a pre-install deal already exists for LG smartphones. 2) Intel is partnering with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Huawei on creating a variety of network management and radio network hardware running on (Intel-powered) servers.
    • Intel is hoping the efforts will bolster a mobile chip division that (thanks in large part to marketing subsidies) posted a $1.1B op. loss in Q4, and a $4.2B op. loss for 2014. Nomura and Wells Fargo are optimistic SoFIA can provide a lift.
    • Shares rose 2.4% today to $34.06, aided by a chip stock rally that followed the NXP/Freescale deal.
    | Mon, Mar. 2, 6:39 PM | 10 Comments
  • Sat, Feb. 28, 3:33 PM
    • Plenty of chipmakers and related IP providers have unveiled new products this week in tandem with the industry's ISSCC conference, and in advance of the Mobile World Congress (runs from Monday-Thursday).
    • ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) has furthered its embedded/IoT push by launching IFC (short for Intelligent Flexible Cloud), a hardware/software framework for creating intelligent, reliable networks of Web-connected, ARM-powered devices.
    • IFC includes networking protocols for ARM-based processors, as well as support for software-defined networking (SDN - the offloading of network management to software-based controllers) and network functions virtualization (NFV - allows commodity hardware to be turned into a networking appliance). It complements ARM's mbed IoT platform for embedded/wearable devices.
    • ARM server CPU vendors Cavium, Marvell, and AppliedMicro support IFC, as does network processor vendor EZchip's (NASDAQ:EZCH) Tilera unit, which just unveiled a new line of processors (the TILE-Mx family) that supports up to 100 64-bit ARM cores and 200Gbps of throughput; it begins sampling in 2H16. Benchmark is upbeat about the TILE-Mx line's potential.
    • Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) has launched: 1) A smartwatch platform featuring an app processor with 2G/3G modem support, a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip, a GPS SoC with an integrated sensor hub, an NFC radio, and a wireless charging IC. 2) An SoC for virtual (software-based) broadband customer premise equipment. 3) Two SoCs for wireless backhaul hardware that are declared to be the first to support 5Gbps of throughput.
    • NXP (NASDAQ:NXPI) has launched: 1) Embedded microcontrollers with advanced security features meant to protect against theft/cloning. Targeted products include smart meter hubs, home/factory automation devices, and aftermarket auto hardware; SemiAccurate likes what it sees. 2) An RF transceiver that enables fully wireless earbud headphones (no wires between earbuds).
    • Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX) has refreshed its UltraScale+ FPGA and programmable SoC lines with chips made using TSMC's next-gen 16nm FinFET+ (3D transistor) process. The chips improve performance/power draw via SRAM integration and new interconnect optimizations, begin shipping in Q4, and aim to keep Xilinx competitive on the high-end as Altera launches FPGAs using Intel's 14nm process.
    • IDT (NASDAQ:IDTI), an early leader in the wireless charging IC market, has rolled out new charging transmitter and receiver ICs that can respectively handle 15W and 10W of power. The transmitter contains a low-power ARM Cortex-M0 CPU core, and is contained within a tiny 5mm x 5mm package.
    | Sat, Feb. 28, 3:33 PM | 3 Comments
  • Wed, Feb. 18, 7:02 PM
    • Looking to fend off MediaTek, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and other hungry rivals, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has launched two new 4G baseband/app processors apiece for its mid-range Snapdragon 400 and 600 lines. It has also abandoned its Gobi baseband modem brand in favor of a branding scheme featuring the letter X followed by a number.
    • The Snapdragon 618 and 620 are the first announced parts to use ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) recently-launched, high-end, Cortex-A72, CPU core: The 618 features two of them at speeds of up to 1.8GHz., and the 620 four of them at up to 1.8GHz. Both chips also contain four low-power Cortex-A53 cores for less demanding tasks, and an X8 Cat-7 LTE modem (300Mbps downlink). The Gobi 9x45, announced in November, supports Cat-10 LTE (450Mbps downlink).
    • The Snapdragon 415 and 425 each sport four high-power and four low-power Cortex-A53 cores, with the high-power cores respectively clocked at 1.4GHz. and 1.7GHz. The 415 has an X5 Cat. 4 LTE modem (150Mbps downlink), and the 425 an X8 modem.
    • Qualcomm notes the 415/425 are the first 8-core 400 series parts, and that the 618/620 "include features previously only available in the Snapdragon 800 tier, including dual ISP camera, 4K video capture and playback, HEVC hardware encoding, richer gaming ... and advanced Wi-Fi connectivity." AnandTech: "Today Qualcomm raised the bar for low- and mid-range SoCs."
    • The company is just three weeks removed from stating it's "seeing heightened competition in China at the mid and high tiers," as it deals with aggressive pricing from MediaTek, Spreadtrum, and others. Intel is also trying hard to gain ground in China and other emerging markets, both through its low-end SoFIA processors and alliances with Chinese chipmakers.
    | Wed, Feb. 18, 7:02 PM | 2 Comments
  • Wed, Feb. 18, 1:35 PM
    • Fresh off acquiring IBM's x86 server unit, Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) plans to create an ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) server prototype for its IBM-developed NeXtScale high-density server line (used in scale-out data centers running Web/cloud, HPC, and analytics workloads). The effort is part of a collaboration with a U.K. HPC R&D lab.
    • Lenovo's server will run on Cavium's (NASDAQ:CAVM) ThunderX ARM server CPU line, which supports up to 48 cores per chip and clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz. Lenovo asserts 12 of its ARM servers will support up to 1,152 CPU cores and occupy a modest 6U of rack space.
    • The deal gives Cavium a high-profile client as it battles against AppliedMicro, AMD, Qualcomm, and others in the budding ARM server CPU market. Cavium has tried to differentiate itself from rivals in part by creating ThunderX CPUs optimized for storage, networking, and security appliances, as well as by providing high levels of I/O bandwidth. Shares have made new highs.
    | Wed, Feb. 18, 1:35 PM | Comment!
  • Wed, Feb. 11, 4:29 AM
    • "License revenue momentum has continued throughout the year," said ARM Holdings' (NASDAQ:ARMH) CFO Tim Score, as the company posted strong Q4 results.
    • With processor royalty revenue up 16% Y/Y, net profit came in at £72.8M ($111M), compared to a loss of £6.2M a year earlier.
    • The semiconductor giant also said it expects revenue to be up 10% Y/Y in Q1, reflecting revenue stemming from robust sales of Apple's iPhone 6.
    • ARMH +3.5% premarket
    | Wed, Feb. 11, 4:29 AM | Comment!
  • Tue, Feb. 10, 5:30 PM
  • Mon, Feb. 9, 12:27 PM
    • ARM (ARMH -0.5%) has acquired Offspark, a Dutch provider of software that allows smartphones, communications modules, and sensor modules to support the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS, the successor to SSL). Terms are undisclosed.
    • Offspark's PolarSSL TLS solution will be integrated with ARM recently-launched mbed IoT platform, which provides an OS, device server software, and developer tools for embedded devices running on chips sporting ARM CPU cores.
    • Though typically using less powerful cores carrying lower royalty rates, microcontrollers going into embedded devices are driving much of ARM's unit growth. Shipments of ARM-based chips rose 19% Y/Y in Q2 to ~3B, with microcontrollers and smart cards accounting for more than 1.1B.
    • ARM bought embedded Web connectivity software provider Sensinode last summer. Earnings are due on Wednesday morning.
    | Mon, Feb. 9, 12:27 PM | 8 Comments
  • Tue, Feb. 3, 7:25 PM
    • ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) new Cortex-A72 CPU core, aimed at processors going into high-end mobile devices in 2016 and later, is said to deliver a ~90%  performance boost relative to devices with processors relying on the prior-gen Cortex-A57, and 3.5x the performance of the older/widely-used Cortex-A15. ARM also claims a 75% cut in power draw relative to A15 processors, if performance is kept equal. (PR)
    • A clock speed of 2.5GHz. is delivered when using TSMC's 16nm manufacturing process within a "mobile power envelope," and higher speeds when used in larger devices (servers?) with less demanding power constraints. ARM promises enough horsepower to play 4K video at 120fps.
    • Also launched: The Mali-T880, a high-end mobile GPU core said to offer an 80% performance gain relative to the prior-gen T760 - it will compete against Imagination's (OTCPK:IGNMF) high-end PowerVR cores - and the CoreLink CCI-500, an SoC interconnect that provides twice the peak memory bandwidth as its predecessor and consumes less power.
    • ARM is counting on the offerings to help it stave off Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which (with the help of generous marketing subsidies) has grabbed a decent chunk of the Android tablet CPU market (it has made less progress with smartphones). It's also looking to keep its CPU core lineup competitive with the custom ARM cores developed by Apple, Qualcomm, and Nvidia.
    • Q4 results arrive on Feb. 11.
    | Tue, Feb. 3, 7:25 PM | 9 Comments
  • Thu, Jan. 22, 2:54 PM
    • Amazon (AMZN +4.3%) has acquired Annapurna Labs, an Israeli chipmaker that has provided few details about the silicon it's working on. The NYT reports the purchase price is $350M. The WSJ previously reported of a $350M deal price, while adding the final tab could be $375M if certain conditions are met.
    • According to the WSJ's sources, Annapurna is developing "midrange networking chips for data centers, offering improvements over existing products in terms of information-transmission rates and power consumption." Israel's Calcalist reports the company is developing "microprocessors that allow fast data traffic for low-power computing servers and storage servers."  It also notes CPU core giant ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) is an investor.
    • AWS' data centers contain hundreds of thousands of servers running Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) x86 CPUs. Though Amazon has downplayed the efforts of 3rd-party ARM server CPU vendors, it has also hired several key engineers from defunct ARM CPU vendor Calxeda, a move that has fueled speculation Amazon is prepping its own ARM server chips. Annapurna could assist with the effort.
    • The news comes on a day in which Piper has assigned AWS a ~$32B valuation.
    • Earlier: Amazon rallies following eBay's earnings
    | Thu, Jan. 22, 2:54 PM | 12 Comments
  • Wed, Jan. 21, 12:12 PM
    • Citi's Amit Harchandani has upgraded ARM (ARMH +1.9%) ahead of its Feb. 11 Q4 report, and upped his target by £3.50 to £12 (shares currently go for £10.43 in London).
    • Harchandani thinks ARM's CPU cores will maintain a 75%+ tablet share and a 90%+ smartphone share in the face of Intel's efforts to gain ground, and forecasts a ~33% free cash flow CAGR from 2014-2017. He also sees room for ARM to "optimize the balance sheet and enhance capital allocation."
    • ARM, long afforded steep multiples on account of its near-monopoly position in the CPU core IP space, currently trades for 33x 2015E EPS. The 2015 revenue growth consensus is at 16.9%.
    | Wed, Jan. 21, 12:12 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Jan. 6, 1:36 PM
    • Up 30% in 2014, the Philadelphia Semi Index (SOXX -2.2%) has fallen over 4% thus far in 2015. Today's decline comes as the Nasdaq drops 1.6%.
    • Many names are posting 3%+ losses. SWKS -4.2%. QRVO -5.8%. AMAT -3.4%. KLAC -3.1%. SYNA -5.4%. IPHI -9%. ARMH -5.4%. SIMO -4.5%. MCRL -3.9%. AMCC -3.9%. CODE -5.1%. CY -4.6%. QUIK -7.9%.
    • This morning, Gartner estimated global chip sales rose 7.9% in 2014 to $339.8B, a little less than the 9.4% recently estimated by IHS. Sell-side firms have forecast industry growth will fall to the ~5% range in 2015.
    • Gartner thinks memory sales rose 16.9%, fueled by a 31.7% increase in DRAM sales. All other chip markets rose by 5.4%, a marked improvement from 2013's 0.8%. Intel (15% share) and Samsung (10.4%) claimed over a quarter of industry sales between them. Qualcomm (5.6%), Micron (4.9%), and SK Hynix (4.7%) rounded out the top-5.
    | Tue, Jan. 6, 1:36 PM | 3 Comments
ARMH vs. ETF Alternatives
Company Description
ARM Holdings PLC designs microprocessors, physical IP and related technology and software, and sells development tools to enhance the performance and energy-efficiency of high-volume embedded applications.