CHIP DESIGNER ARM has bought Prolific with the hope that its technologies will help ARM design chips that are easier to make.
ARM's architecture is found on just about every type of device but like every other chip designer it needs to move to ever smaller process nodes to meet performance demands. Prolific's suite of integrated circuit design optimisation software will help ARM reduce development time and improvement performance of cell based designs.
ARM has made it no secret that buying Prolific is meant to ease its transition to the 20nm process node. While ARM doesn't fab chips itself, the firm's designs form the blue-prints for chip vendors such as Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Broadcom, and making sure the fundamental design can be easily baked into silicon is vital.
Paul de Dood, president of Prolific said, "The ARM partnership will benefit from faster time to market for advanced node solutions through the addition of Prolific's leading-edge optimization tools, which enable optimum power, performance and area with accelerated development timelines."
Chip vendors including AMD, Intel and IBM spend billions on designing chips that can be created in silicon reliably and in a cost effective manner when they are sent to the fabs. Even Intel, which throws more money at this than almost anyone else, has said that its challenges will mount as it goes below the 14nm process node, even with its Tri-gate transistor.
At press time ARM had not mentioned how much it paid for Prolific, but if it allows ARM to design chips faster then it is a price worth paying in its impending battle with Intel. µ