The importance of the ARM architecture

Recently, in a compiz-related IRC channel, I was reading someone questioning the relevancy of OMAP platform development. Basically, he was saying something like :

I still don’t understand what the main purpose of the panda board is. Just a very small hardware with desktop power? Or all about SOC? or what ?

Well, the main purpose is to develop for ARM devices. That’s the bottom-line. See, the PandaBoard is a development board that integrates the Texas Instruments OMAP4 system on a chip (SoC). And this OMAP4 chip (either OMAP4430 or OMAP4460 if you’re using Panda or Panda ES), of course, is ARM based. Apart from TI’s OMAP platforms, you can’t imagine how many devices out there are using the ARM architecture! Here a quick list of devices using ARM processors :

  • Apple iPods, iPhones and iPads
  • Google Galaxy Nexus phones
  • HTC one series phones
  • Samsung Galaxy S series phones
  • Nokia’s N series Phones
  • Motorola phones, LG phones, blah blah,
  • Gameboy Advance
  • Nintendo DS/3DS
  • Calculators, peripherals, …
  • … and many others…

So you see just how widespread ARM architecture is.

In 2005 about 98% of the more than one billion mobile phones sold each year used at least one ARM processor. As of 2009 ARM processors accounted for approximately 90% of all embedded 32-bit RISC processors and were used extensively in consumer electronics, including personal digital assistants (PDAs), tablets, mobile phones, digital media and music players, hand-held game consoles, calculators and computer peripherals such as hard drives and routers [1].

Now, developing on the Beagleboard, Pandabord or Blaze really isn’t just about developing for ARM devices, it’s about developing for OMAP devices. Still, there are a lot of Motorola, Panasonic, LG, Blackberry and Samsung smartphones out there based on OMAP chips, but that’s another story…

 

References

  1. ARM In Wikipedia. Retrieved June 26, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM
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