ARM names Segars to replace retiring CEO East

New ARM CEO inherits a company well-positioned to grow in key mobile markets, analyst says

Simon Segars will become ARM CEO when Warren East retires July 1, the company said Tuesday.

Segars is currently ARM's president. As CEO, he will take charge of a fast-growing company whose processor designs are used in most tablets and smartphones from companies like Apple and Samsung.

East, 52, is a well-respected leader, credited with pushing ARM out of obscurity into the forefront of mobile devices. Segars, who joined ARM in 1991, will take over a company in the midst of expanding its presence in areas such as embedded devices, taking market share away from another chip designer MIPS.

ARM is also forging ahead into new markets such as servers, which is dominated by x86 chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. AMD has adopted ARM processors and plans to put them in servers, and Dell and Hewlett-Packard are offering prototype ARM servers for testing.

ARM also faces challenges. Intel is pouring resources from its deep pockets into chip development and manufacturing as it tries to expand its presence in the lucrative mobile-device market, where it hopes to take market share away from ARM. ARM, whose processor designs are largely 32- and 40-bit, recently announced 64-bit processors in an effort to catch up with Intel on processor development.

Like ARM, Intel also will have a leadership change -- CEO Paul Otellini plans to retire in May. His successor has not been named.

Though Segars led a sales team at ARM in the past, he is outspoken and best known for his deep technology background. That will be a change from East, who also has an engineering background, but is known for his mellow personality and strong marketing abilities.

But the CEO change from East to Segars won't mean that ARM's operations change over time, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.

"I never saw a difference in the way the two have thought about the market. ARM is on a roll, and I don't expect to see much change," Brookwood said.

Unlike Intel, no midcourse corrections in ARM's operations are needed, Brookwood said. Intel is now looking for a CEO to drive the company in a new direction as it pushes into mobile and tries to take advantage of its advanced manufacturing technologies.

Segars will also have to take ARM forward with 64-bit processors, which is the next big product for the company as it takes on Intel in the server, PC and mobile markets. ARM in 2011 announced the ARMv8 processor architecture and last year followed that up with 64-bit Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processor designs, which have already been licensed by Samsung, Advanced Micro Devices, Broadcom, Calxeda and other companies.

ARM now is well-positioned in the fast-growing markets, Brookwood said. ARM also has a relationship with every key semiconductor company and has the lead where it can feel comfortable to tweak product plans around the edges, Brookwood said.

ARM's products, which also include graphics processors, were used by more than 300 semiconductor customers in nearly 9 billion chips last year, ARM said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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