Pay no attention to the big blue man behind the curtain.

You might be astonished at how ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH) has worked its chip architectures into every corner of the mobile world. From giants Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) and Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), to smaller players NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA) and Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL), ARM's licensees are sprinting toward collective dominance of mobile computing. Now they're casting bedroom eyes at the data-center space, too -- low power and high performance is a killer combination for corporate IT as well.

But ARM didn't do it alone. Not only does the company have the aforementioned army of license holders and manufacturing partners, but IBM (NYSE: IBM) also plays a big role in how the technology develops.

Big Blue and ARM just renewed their shared commitment to processor technologies several generations into the future. Under this agreement, ARM's processor blueprints will be tuned and optimized for manufacturing under IBM's umbrella of semiconductor process technologies, and vice versa.

The partnership started in 2008 and is already close to bearing fruit. More specifically, IBM's expertise accelerated the progress toward the 32-nanometer and 28-nanometer processes, which will be used to churn out the monster processors powering next year's tablets and smartphones at speeds up to 2.5 gigahertz. That's under the old IBM-ARM cooperation -- the new agreement takes processor traces to half the width at 14nm with all the concomitant efficiency and performance benefits.

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) plays hardball in the processor tech space, but ARM should be able to keep up thanks to support from its very capable friends in Armonk. Add ARM Holdings to your Foolish watchlist to keep tabs of this arms race over the next few years.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. NVIDIA is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of International Business Machines, Marvell Technology Group, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.