ARM’s CEO Simon Segars on Spectre/Meltdown, IoT security and more

This year’s CES happened in the shadow of the Spectre and Meltdown disclosures, and virtually every conversation at the show turned to this topic at some point. Because this was CES, we had the ability to talk to quite a few people who are close to this issue, including ARM CEO Simon Segars, who stopped by our booth to talk about security and these recent disclosures and their mitigations.

In addition to that, we talked about the next big business opportunities for his company, including IoT and AI. For a company whose designs are already in more than 120 billions of devices, those next frontiers open up lots of new opportunities, after all. “With the growth of IoT, we are talking billions — essentially a trillion connected devices,” Segars told us.

As for Spectre and Meltdown, Segars noted that the attacks have raised the awareness of how many microprocessors there are in the world today, though he also stressed that this attack exploits the features of high-performance chips — and only 5 percent of the chips that ARM’s licensees have sold in the past are susceptible to the attack.

One thing Segars couldn’t tell us just yet is if the patches that the hardware and software vendors are now releasing will incur any performance penalties on the ARM side. “It’s a bit early to tell, to be honest,” Segars said. “It’s going to be highly use-case dependent — highly application dependent.” He does believe, though, that for some high-performance uses cases, there will be a penalty. “For most cases, you know — surfing the web, browsing, email, a lot of the use cases certainly in a mobile device, you are not going to notice any difference.”

You can watch the full interview below.