ARM is a British semiconductor and software design company based in Cambridge, England. Its primary business is in the design of ARM processors (CPUs), although it also designs other chips; and software development tools under the DS-5, RealView and Keil brands, as well as systems and platforms, system-on-a-chip (SoC) infrastructure and software. As a "holding" company, it also holds shares of other companies. It is considered to be market dominant for processors in mobile phones (smartphones or otherwise), tablet computers and for chips in smart TVs and in total over 160 billion chips have been made for various devices based on designs from Arm (more than from any other company). The company is one of the best-known "Silicon Fen" companies. Since 2016, it has been owned by conglomerate SoftBank Group.
While ARM CPUs first appeared in the Acorn Archimedes, a desktop computer, today's systems include mostly embedded systems, including all types of phones. Systems, like iPhone and Android smartphones, frequently include many chips, from many different providers, that include one or more licensed Arm cores, in addition to those in the main Arm-based processor. Arm's core designs are also used in chips that support all the most common network-related technologies.
Processors based on designs licensed from Arm, or designed by licensees of one of the ARM instruction set architectures, are used in all classes of computing devices (including in space). Examples of use of those processors range from the world's smallest computer, to smartphones, laptops, servers and to the world's fastest supercomputer by several benchmarks included on the TOP500 list, including the most energy-efficient one on the list. Processors designed by Arm or by Arm licensees are used as microcontrollers in embedded systems, including real-time safety systems. Arm's Mali line of graphics processing units (GPU) is the third most popular GPU in mobile devices. A recent addition to their lineup are AI accelerator chips for neural network processing.
Arm's main CPU competitors in servers include IBM, Intel and AMD. Intel competed with Arm-based chips in mobile, but Arm no longer has any competition in that space (however, vendors of actual Arm-based chips compete within that space). Arm's main GPU competitors include mobile GPUs from American and Japanese technology companies Imagination Technologies (PowerVR), Qualcomm (Adreno), and increasingly Nvidia (who would eventually buy them outright) and Intel. Despite competing within GPUs, Qualcomm and Nvidia have combined their GPUs with Arm-licensed CPUs.
Arm had a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It also had a secondary listing on NASDAQ. However Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank Group made an agreed offer for Arm on 18 July 2016, subject to approval by Arm's shareholders, valuing the company at £24.3 billion (short scale). The transaction was completed on 5 September 2016.
On 13 September 2020, it was announced that Nvidia would buy Arm from SoftBank for $40 billion, subject to usual scrutiny, with the latter retaining a 10% share in Nvidia.