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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

ARM: The Musical, at last

January 27th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena

The book that Sir Robin Saxby has been waiting for
has finally been written: “Mobile Unleashed: The Origin and Evolution of ARM Processors in Our Devices”.

Authored by SemiWiki’s Dan Nenni and Don Dingee, the book “delivers an informative look at events and technology that powered the mobile device industry to worldwide adoption.”

When I spoke with Dingee by phone this week, he said the book represents an enormous amount of work: “Sixteen months of intense research, 270 pages and over 800 footnotes.”

Other books have been written about ARM, he acknowledged, but this one is different: “People ask if this is a technology book or the story of ARM and I say, in truth it’s a little bit of both.”

The story starts in the early days in the embedded RISC market when, per Dingee, “MIPS was the leader, big in gaming consoles and the printer market. But ARM started to grow along with the PDA industry, the Newton, and the digitization of the mobile market, which ARM captured.

“And then one day it happened. Industry analysts did a double take and realized that ARM was actually bigger than MIPS, and it’s been that way ever since.”

Is ARM delighted with the book, I asked. Did they commission the book, and will it be distributed to all of their customers?

Dingee said, “ARM, the company, did not review the text and they did not drive or commission the project. Robin Saxby, however, not only wrote the forward to the book, he read it and owns a copy. He says he’s been waiting several decades for this story to be told!”

Are there stories in the book that will surprise, I asked.

Dingee said yes, including back stories on Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung that have never been told before. The book also includes anecdotes from Mentor Graphics’ Wally Rhines.

“Back when he was at TI,” Dingee said, “Wally held back signing off on a deal that would have had TI going with ARM.”

Clearly Wally changed his mind, Dingee said, “because if TI, and Nokia, had not eventually both endorsed ARM, it’s not clear how the story would have played out.”

There must be a lot of people named in the book, I noted. Have any of them read and reviewed the book?

Dingee laughed and said, “Some of the people who have seen the book have complained that things have been left out. But to fully tell the story would have required 1300 pages and 5 years of effort. And even then, people would have said things were left out.”

Laughing again, he said, “Eventually, you just have to say the book is done and get it out there!”


Mobile Unleashed

SILICON VALLEY, Calif. – January 25, 2016 – How much do you know about the processor in your smart phone, or the company behind its creation? The new book “Mobile Unleashed”, written by semiconductor industry veterans Daniel Nenni and Don Dingee, delivers an informative look at events and technology that powered the mobile device industry to worldwide adoption.

On the heels of ARM’s 25th anniversary, this all-new account follows the development of ARM architecture from its beginnings at Acorn Computer through present day. Along with technical detail and summary charts, “Mobile Unleashed: The Origin and Evolution of ARM Processors in Our Devices” features back story and insight for all mobile users and aficionados.

For seasoned industry observers there are many surprising moments revealed at ARM, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Texas Instruments, and more firms that changed the course of mobile history. The narrative of Steve Jobs returning to Apple in Chapter 7 has been labeled “entertaining” in first reviews. Mentor Graphics CEO Wally Rhines calls the book “an engaging read”, and Sir Robin Saxby, first CEO of ARM, says in his Foreword it was a two-decade wait for this story to be told.

The authors also take on the present and future from their depth of industry experience. What happened to the old leaders in mobile devices? Will Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm remain on top or will newer names like MediaTek or Huawei take over? What constitutes smart phone innovation now? How will things change in semiconductors as wearables and the IoT evolve?


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