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ARM CEO Warren East retires and taps No. 2 exec as replacement

Warren East, chief executive of one of the world’s most influential chip design firms, is retiring from ARM. ARM’s low-power processor designs are used in everything from the Apple iPhone to the latest digital televisions.

East (pictured), who has been with the company since 1994, will be replaced by president Simon Segars, effective on July 1. In doing so, he will carry on Cambridge, England-based ARM’s crusade to spread its microprocessors into everything electronic. ARM doesn’t make or design chips itself. Rather, it creates an architecture, or a fundamental design, that licensees take and use in their own customized designs for chips. Those chips are the brains of electronic devices.

In the microprocessor wars, ARM and its many partner allies have always had the most units sold in the market. But Intel, which can sell chips for $100 or more, has always had the lion’s share of the profits in a $30 billion-plus industry. With the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, ARM is a rising star while Intel’s core PC market is weakening. And recently, Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices announced it would move beyond Intel-compatible chips to making ones based on ARM designs.

The secret is low power, as ARM’s chip architecture was designed from the beginning decades ago to handle low-power operations while Intel focused on performance. But now that servers run so hot, serving Internet pages by the billions, heat and electricity usage has become a major problem in data centers.

Like East, Segars is an engineer and has been with ARM since 1991. In January, he was appointed president. In its most recent fiscal year, ARM generated a profit of $397 million on revenue of $913 million.

“We take a very long-term view about our business, and we believe that now is the right time to bring in new leadership, to execute on the next phase of growth and to plan even further into the future,” East said in a statement. “I have worked with Simon in the senior leadership team for many years and we share a global perspective and belief in the ARM approach to partnership and collaboration.”

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