ARM and Microsoft Cooperate on "Processor Architectures" - Report

Relations Between ARM and Microsoft Could Be Very Deep

by Anton Shilov
03/22/2011 | 08:15 PM

A high-ranking executive of ARM Holdings in Taipei said at a local press conference on Tuesday that ARM and Microsoft were collaborating not only on development of Windows 8 operating system, which will support ARM microprocessors, but also onto certain hardware projects. If the information turns out to be correct, then the relations between the two companies will turn out to be deeper than initially thought.


ARM has been "cooperating with Microsoft to develop processor architectures", indicated Philip Lu, the president of ARM Taiwan at the  press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, reports DigiTimes web-site. Unfortunately, the executives declined to provide any further information and it is unclear what "processor architectures" Microsoft helped ARM to design. A collaboration like this might not involve creation of certain specific hardware innovations, but might include tailoring of ARM chip designs for Microsoft Windows and other software. For example, Microsoft helps to define feature-set of DirectX, which has direct impact onto graphics architectures from ATI/AMD, Intel Corp. and Nvidia Corp.

In January, 2011, Microsoft announced plans to support microprocessors based on ARM architecture with its next-generation Windows 8 operating system for personal computers. Such support requires some kind of collaboration between the software giant and the microprocessors architect.

Back in July, 2010, ARM and Microsoft signed a new licensing agreement for the ARM architecture. Formally, the agreement extended the collaborative relationship between the two companies and Microsoft licensed ARM architecture and got closer access to ARM's intellectual property (IP), which could enable the software giant to develop its own chips based on ARM's IP. Officially, such a plan has never been announced.

Several years ago ARM unveiled intentions to create server-class architectures and chips that would compete against traditional AMD Opteron and Intel Xeon microprocessors in the market of the so-called micro-servers. In order to get inside servers, ARM not only needs to build-in a number of capabilities into its architecture and chips, but also ensure that those microprocessors work efficiently with Windows operating systems for servers.