Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sharp pulls out of ARM family


Sharp Microelectronics has pulled out of ARM-based microcontrollers in what I believe is an unfortunate first for ARM - the first time that a major semiconductor vendor has stopped making parts with the ARM processor core.
Sharp had a range of controllers under the BlueStreak brand using the ARM7 and ARM9 cores and with some sophisticated peripherals such as an LCD controller. But the parts haven't gained the traction that the company hoped - I suspect there were lots of low volume designs (with lots of support costs) but not the high volume deals.
I also suspect that the devices were too highly priced with those peripherals and too niche (one of the potential problems of the 'system on a chip' approach). The controller market is fiercely competitive and the volume deals come from corporate buying across a wide range of applications - these parts were perhaps too specific for that kind of bulk, company-wide purchasing and so were relegated to the smaller, project-based buys.
Sharp also didn't do well in its marketing of the parts in Europe (in my humble opion anyway - I track the market and didn't see much about them at all, which is never a good sign).
ARM said it doesn't comment on speculation. Oh well. Let's hope it's not the first of several vendors pulling out, then.

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