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Sony, Hyundai get chip design

Processor design company Advanced RISC Machines licenses technology to electronics giants Sony and Hyundai.

Processor design company Advanced RISC Machines has licensed technology to electronics giants Sony and Hyundai Electronics.

At the heart of both agreements is a technology called the ARM7TDMI "Thumb," a 32-bit RISC processor design. The technology will be used by the companies in low-power consumer applications such as portable devices, car navigations systems, and other multimedia devices.

ARM's processors feature low-cost and low-power RISC technology--which stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing--making them suitable for use in portable, consumer electronics devices. The designs are typically good at delivering high performance at low power, compared to chips from market leader Intel.

Apple Computer uses the ARM processor in its Newton and eMate handheld devices.

ARM is one of a growing number of companies designing processors for licensing to electronics manufacturers. The manufacturers then incorporate the designs into their products, doing the actual semiconductor manufacturing of the end processor.

By licensing designs from companies like ARM, manufacturers such as Sony and Hyundai are able to save on development costs while still tailoring the final processor to their needs. Such customization is critical especially in small devices such as appliances and portable electronics.