Arm today launched Flexible Access, a new licensing scheme in addition to its existing model that will make it easier for startups to gain access to a wide range of Arm’s intellectual property (IP) without any upfront licensing costs.
Intellectual property licensing schemes for chips may not strike you as the most exciting thing. But as the number of companies building their silicon increases, often for particular use cases, having access to the IP from companies like Arm is something more companies than ever are looking to have. Until now, the only way to get access to Arm’s IP was to select upfront the products you wanted to license. That works for large companies that know precisely, what they want, but for smaller companies, that’s a bit of a barrier, given that they are likely still trying to figure out what exactly they need.
Under the Flexible Access terms, partners get access to the IP and only pay a per-unit royalty fee once they go into production. Under the existing scheme, license fees were due before partners could access the IP.
“The reason we’re doing this is that we see that the industry is evolving quite significantly. Lots of transformation that are happening, new companies coming into doing custom silicon,” Dipti Vachani, Arm’s SVP and GM of its automotive and IoT business, told me. “We believe that enabling this is easy access to IP and experimentation allows for the growth and the usage of our IP across the trillion connected devices.”
Vachani stressed that the company believes this move will allow a whole range of new companies to use Arm’s IP portfolio because it significantly lowers the barrier of entry.
“This allows for a lower barrier to entry for anyone. It’s very straightforward. You go online, there’s a process to do so,” Vachani said. “And smaller companies that may not have the infrastructure that our traditional silicon companies have had — this makes this simple and easy for them.”
That flexibility, the company hopes, will result in even more companies using its IP and hence driving more revenue as those companies sell their products. “I expect that this will increase the scale,” Vachani said. “It’ll allow for the trillion connected devices that we internally talk about at ARM and enable those trillion connected devices to be on ARM. It builds on top of the ecosystem that we already have and that it will be accretive to our company and our business.”