Computer ◆ Conservation ◆ Society

The Call to ARMs

This is a joint meeting with the Newcomen Society. Please note non-standard location

Speaker: Steve Furber
Date: Tue 28th November 2017
Time: 17:30 for 18:00

Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), Liverpool Road, Manchester, M3 4FP




The ARM Processor


Steve Furber

About the seminar

The origins of the ARM can be traced back to a small UK supplier of desk-top machines, Acorn Computers Ltd, in the early 1980s, for whose staff the original ARM (then the ‘Acorn RISC Machine’) was a first attempt at designing a microprocessor. The ultimate success of the ARM is a result of serendipity (of course) combined with a little good technical judgement, a great deal of creativity in developing a novel business model, and a focus on customer service. The technical development of the ARM has as its foundations some of the important developments in computer science over the last quarter of a century: its architectural conception was a result of skilful selling of the RISC philosophy by its exponents at UC Berkeley; its silicon design employed very early design automation tools; its simplicity, small size and power-efficiency suited it to the emerging System-on-Chip technology of the early 1990s, and its foothold there enabled it to climb to its current dominant position as the compute engine of choice of the digital age.

About the speaker

Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng is ICL Professor of Computer Engineering in the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, UK. After completing a BA in mathematics and a PhD in aerodynamics at the University of Cambridge, UK, he spent the 1980s at Acorn Computers, where he was a principal designer of the BBC Microcomputer and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor. Over 100 billion variants of the ARM processor have since been manufactured, powering much of the world’s mobile and embedded computing. He moved to the ICL Chair at Manchester in 1990 where he leads research into asynchronous and low-power systems and, more recently, neural systems engineering, where the SpiNNaker project is delivering a computer incorporating a million ARM processors optimised for brain modelling applications.