Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
UK’s ARM: We are all in this Alone together
June 23rd, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
And so a page turns, another chapter begins, and now there’s a twist in the plot line that few saw coming. Although it’s a dark and starry night here, the sun is up in the UK and the future looks suddenly different, no matter if you’re standing on the streets of London, York, Edinburgh – or Cambridge.
The very same Cambridge where ARM Ltd. is headquartered.
A lifetime ago – or just 17 days ago, if you’re a stickler for details – ARM hosted a “What we’re announcing at DAC” press event upstairs in the Austin Convention Center on Monday morning, June 6th. There the press corps and others had a chance to hear the company’s news, see a slide show, and ask questions.
ARM’s announcements included:
* At DAC, the company would demonstrate how it’s “enabling the ecosystem to innovate faster and more efficiently with integrated and optimized ARM-based IP for advanced SoCs” – an ecosystem that consists of ARM’s EDA, foundry and embedded partners.
* Reflecting the company’s omnipresence, ARM folks would participate in 30+ technical sessions, panels, and co-located events over the course of DAC week in Austin.
* The company has expanded it ARM DesignStart initiative “to offer simplified and expedited access to EDA tooling and design environments from Cadence and Mentor Graphics.”
* The company has established an ARM-Approved Design Partner program which will provide DesignStart initiatives users with “a global list of audited design houses for expert support during development.”
* ARM Cortex-M processors are at the center of Cadence’s newly announced “end-to-end solution” that will accelerate the work of designers laboring to create custom SoCs and IoT devices.
Okay. So all of this uber-comprehensive news announced on June 6th was impressive, organized, riddled with partnering, and powerful. ARM is a powerful company and everyone at DAC knew it.
But now it’s midnight here, morning time there, and for ARM – an unequivocally UK-based company – things have suddenly changed. Dramatically.
Because let’s face it, the semiconductor industry/supply chain defines what it means to work within a global economy. And ARM, by its own conceit, drives the semiconductor supply chain.
Billions and billions of ARM cores live at the heart of millions and millions – probably billions – of small digital devices that drive our world. And that ARM billion-ness has been built on a global economy where companies strike deals with an international cadre of business partners, deals that are executed under the terms of larger nation-state to nation-state agreements, treaties, and understandings.
For ARM, that means some portion of their trade agreements with an international cast of business partners has been hammered out under the guise of ARM operating not just as a UK-based enterprise, but as a company operating within an uber-nation-state that has negotiated and/or set the rules for making such agreements. An uber-nation-state called the EU.
But now the UK is filing for divorce from the EU, ARM is a UK-based company, the trade agreements that ARM has with its plethora of international partners are – hmm – wobbly? Up for re-evaluation? Possibly invalidated? What?
It’s so unclear. How can the largest IP provider in the world find itself in the position of being housed within a nation-state that is choosing to withdraw from some part of that world. How?
Look, it’s almost midnight here, the world is continuing to turn, the sun will come up in Silicon Valley in a few hours, just as it starts to think about setting in Cambridge.
You can certainly try to pretend that the Brexit vote will have no impact on ARM, that the global body politic actually has no real influence on things like the company’s ability to negotiate with its international “ecosystem” – but I think that might be wishful thinking.
Let’s check back in 6 months, in a year, in 2 years when [if] the UK has fully withdrawn from the EU. Let’s see then how immune uber-players like ARM actually are from the vagaries of politics, economic trending, and the will of the simple majority of its world – and the world we all live in.
Because, it’s true tonight more than ever – we are all in this alone together.
Should I stay or should I go now?
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