Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Processor War: Google to Manufacture ARM?

[Datacenter Image, courtsy ARS Technica]
 Google maybe thinking about making their own ARM central processing units
We've already seen consumer technology companies like Apple and Samsung become more vertically integrated in the last few years—Apple designs its own phones and tablets, the chips that go in them, and the architecture that goes into the chips, for example. Just as Apple's software benefits from tight integration with Apple's hardware, Google is reportedly eyeing chip design as a way to "better manage the interactions between hardware and software."

[Sun Microsystems Logo]
Of course, Sun (and now Oracle), have seen a similar benefit with SPARC, over the years. Sun Microsystems was able to drive volume in their market, but as manufacturing costs rose, the market needed to grow accordingly. The UNIX market had found ways to differentiate themselves from the consumer market, but that market shrank as the consumer market canibalized it. There needs to be a large enough market to make the investment profitable in this high-cost and high-risk arena.

[Sun Ray Terminal]
Google is large enough, to make such an investment profitable, and they have a large enough investment in ARM hardware software with the Mobile consumer market. This does not guarantee survival, however, as Oracle demonstrated their desire to exit the desktop appliance market with the discontinuing of their Sun Ray product, when they could have invested in SPARC or ARM for the Sun Ray to make an additional consumer for their SPARC processor investment, hedge the investment in SPARC processor in skilled programmers, and created a new market driver for Oracle's Cloud offering using Sun Ray appliances.

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