ARM gives startups free access to chip portfolio

Semiconductor firm expands its Flexible Access program to help early-stage businesses through the pandemic

UK semiconductor manufacturer Arm is offering free access to 75% of its chip portfolio to early-stage businesses. 

With coronavirus starting to create economic strain on the market, Arm is aiming to help hardware startups by expanding its Flexible Access program.

The company builds chips for the likes of Apple and Qualcomm, often for high prices, but its opening access to its intellectual property for qualified startups for free in order to encourage innovation across the sector

"In today's challenging business landscape, enabling innovation is critical – now more than ever, startups with brilliant ideas need the fastest, most trusted route to success and scale," said Dipti Vachani, the senior vice president and general manager of Arm's Automotive and IoT Line of Business.

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"Arm Flexible Access for Startups offers new silicon entrants a faster, more cost-efficient path to working prototypes, resulting in strengthened investor confidence for future funding."

Arm defines "early-stage" as startups with up to $5 million in funding. From today, these businesses will be able to access to a broad portfolio of Arm-based processors, including intellectual property from the Arm Cortex-A, -R and -M processor families, select Arm Mali GPUs, ISPs, and other foundational SoC building blocks.

Startups will also have access to Arm's ecosystem of silicon designers, software developers, support, training, and tools, the company said.

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According to Arm, the announcement builds on the early success of its Flexible Access program, which launched last year, where partners pay an annual fee for instant access to its tech portfolio. The program has more than 40 registered customers, covering areas such as IoT, AI, Edge computing, and autonomous vehicles.

While free access will be a big boost to early-stage businesses, it is clear that Arm has a vested interest in fostering hardware startups ahead of a potential crash in the market.

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