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A person holding mobile phone with the logo of British semiconductor company Arm Ltd on the screen on June 6, 2021. Photo: Shutterstock

SoftBank-owned chip designer Arm posts record 2021 revenue, doubling earnings from automotive sector

  • Arm revenue jumped 35 per cent in 2021 to US$2.7 billion and shipped 29.2 billion chips
  • CEO Rene Haas said the strong performance could not have happened without its Chinese joint venture, which recently ousted its CEO after a public dispute
SoftBank Group Corp’s chip technology firm Arm Ltd on Thursday reported record revenue for 2021, and chief executive Rene Haas told Reuters its business for new chip designs indicates a strong outlook.

SoftBank plans to take the British tech company public. Regulatory hurdles stopped a deal to sell it to US chip maker Nvidia Corp.

Arm, which makes the basic blueprint used to design chips, had revenue of US$2.7 billion last year, up 35 per cent from the previous year. Licensing business revenue rose 61 per cent to US$1.13 billion and royalties, tracking the numbers of chips sold using Arm technology, rose 20 per cent to US$1.54 billion.

SoftBank ousts defiant CEO from UK-Chinese chip venture

Haas said the licensing business is “all about companies spending money with Arm about designing chips for the future”.

Asked about the revenue outlook, he said: “We’ve never done over a billion dollars. So I would say that’s a good leading indicator of the demand for the product.”

Haas said 29.2 billion chips using Arm technology were shipped last year, nearly 8 billion in the fourth quarter. He said Arm’s focus on the automotive sector three to four years ago was paying off and revenue from that segment more than doubled last year thanks to electrification and increasing computing power for cars.

“It probably would have been better if there was more supply,” said Haas about Arm’s automotive business.

Haas declined to talk about the potential value Arm could fetch on the stock market. In September 2020, Nvidia had proposed to pay up to US$40 billion for Arm. SoftBank bought it for US$32 billion.


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Haas also reiterated that Arm has resolved a public dispute at its Chinese joint venture, ousting former chief executive Allen Wu. He said the venture, Arm China, makes up about 20 per cent of the company’s revenue.

“One thing I can say is we had great results in this last year and it wouldn’t have happened without the China JV doing well,” he said.