Chip technology firm Arm Inc. to ease fees for startups, join incubator

Arm Inc, owned by Japan’s Softbank Group Corp, whose chip technologies power most smartphones, said on Wednesday it was easing fees for startup companies and providing free offerings to an incubator for early-stage chip firms.

Arm licenses its intellectual property to companies like Apple which in turn uses the technology in Apple-designed chips for iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and other devices.

Arm chip fees. Image: Apple's Arm-based A13 Bionic SoC
Apple’s Arm-based A13 Bionic SoC

Stephen Nellis for Reuters:

Arm charges a range of licensing fees to access its technology, including some that must be paid for potentially several years of design and development time before a company ever sees its first physical chip.

Those costs are more difficult for small companies to absorb, so last year Arm opened up about three-quarters of its portfolio of chip technology for a new “flexible access” program that delayed many of those fees until after its customers had a chip in hand that they could begin to sell. Arm also faces competition from RISC-V, an open-source chip technology with fewer licensing costs.

On Wednesday, Arm extended that effort, saying it would eliminate its annual access fees for startups with less than $5 million in funding.

Arm also on Wednesday joined Silicon Catalyst, a California-based firm that provides support to small chip firms, as an “in-kind partner” by providing some of its offerings for free to the firm’s portfolio companies.

MacDailyNews Take: Smart move by Arm as smaller chip companies will now embrace Arm. This is laying the foundation for future innovation.

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