By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - ARM Holdings unveiled a new chip design on Tuesday suited for factory automation, cars and home security systems, underscoring the company's focus on a growing wave of Internet-connected industrial and household devices.
Cambridge, England-based ARM licenses its processor technology to chipmakers across the smartphone industry, but its intellectual property is also used in everything from DVD players to coffee makers.
ARM is beefing up its offering of technology aimed at "smart," connected-home and industrial devices, a trend electronics companies are betting will fuel new growth as the explosive demand for smartphones loses steam.
ARM Chief Executive Simon Segars said many connected-home products currently on the market serve little purpose to most consumers, adding that the best smart devices in the future will be those which clearly save people money.
"The day the refrigerator talks to the milk carton, that's in a gimmicky category. But to have the dishwasher and refrigerator coordinate their cycles to reduce the electricity load - that becomes useful," Segars told Reuters on Monday.
The Cortex-M7 processor design announced on Tuesday is meant for high-end microcontroller chips and has been licensed by chipmakers Atmel, Freescale and STMicroelectronics.
Microcontrollers are tiny computers on a chip and are used in everything from cars to microwave ovens.
The new processor's computing power is comparable to a personal computer from the mid-1990s and is capable of handling image recognition in a home security camera or voice recognition in a smart car audio system, according to ARM.
Last year, ARM's licensees sold a bit more than 10 billion chips made with ARM processor technology, about half of which went into mobile devices, with the rest used in everything from washing machines to digital TVs.
"We're looking at everywhere computing happens and seeing an opportunity for an ARM processor," Segars said.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich, editing by G Crosse)