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Intel claims that its next generation of mobile CPU products will be able to beat ARM in power efficiency. The company claims to be unconcerned that Microsoft will be allowing ARM chips on Windows netbooks, notebooks, and tablets.  (Source: Intel)
Who, us worried? Naww...

Microsoft’s announcement that the next version of Windows would support ARM chipmakers' CPUs was a bombshell and shocking news to x86 chipmaker Intel.  Many took the news as a sign that Microsoft felt Intel, the world leader in PC CPU shipments, was offering too little, too late in power improvements compared to the power-savvy ARM architecture.

In newly released comments, an Intel spokesperson denies that Microsoft took such a stand and insists that not only is Intel at no risk, but that it will actually be able to beat ARM at power efficiency.

Intel's spokesperson delivered these comments to the SF Gate. States the spokesperson, "With over 30 years of compatibility, we will easily scale down to a lower power Windows to match our Atom processor family, or any x86-based Intel chip."

The company's executive leadership made similar claims during its recent earnings call.

The spokesperson also pointed to a recent interview Intel executive vice president Dadi Perlmutter did with Ars Technica. The Intel executive claimed that it would take Microsoft so long to get the next version of Windows ready that by then his company would have released designs that could compete with ARM in power.

The spokesperson adds, "Windows will always run best on Intel.  Porting Windows to a new architecture, where chips are generally incompatible with each other and require sizable investment in millions of other software code, applications and middleware will be complex and costly."

Costly, perhaps, but many think it is necessary despite Intel's claims.  Intel has yet to release an x86-based tablet system-on-a-chip (CPU+GPU) that's anywhere close to the power efficiency of the ARM-based chips present in virtually every tablet on sale today.  And while Intel Atom-based tablets will be coming this year, it's not expected to get its smartphone CPUs to market this year.

While Intel's prospects in the tablet market look slim, the biggest danger to it is actually in the budget laptop/netbook sector.  ARM-based designs could offer much longer battery life than designs using Intel chips, such as Sandy Bridge or Atom.  The ARM architecture is inherently slightly more efficient as it eliminates register expensive renaming and has a slimmer instruction set.  While not all reduced instruction set computer CPUs -- RISC CPUs -- have been as successful (e.g. the PowerPC architecture), ARM represents the closest to perfect RISC architecture the market has seen to date.

Despite those architectural advantages, Intel could be right about future efficiency if it continues to aggressively pursue die shrinks.  As processor shrink, they become more energy efficient, but leakage current accounts for more and more of the power budget.  So if Intel can out-shrink ARM chipmakers or use better leakage controlling technologies in its chips, that could make more of a difference to net power consumption than the core architecture, in the long run.

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It's about compatibility stupid!
By corduroygt on 1/21/2011 9:28:01 AM , Rating: 2
The strength of the x86 is not in its architecture but in software library. Pretty much every computer app is compiled on x86 since it's running on Windows, OS X (for the last few years), and Linux. When it comes to mobile devices, all of the major mobile OS's today are written to run on ARM. I'd like to see how Intel can change this, seems to be a monumental task.

RE: It's about compatibility stupid!
By Da W on 1/21/2011 9:40:31 AM , Rating: 2
By having desktop software running on a mobile device.
Most apps on mobile devices are small pieces of crap that can be coded in 2 days. It can be ported to x86.

RE: It's about compatibility stupid!
By Flunk on 1/21/2011 9:44:55 AM , Rating: 3
You're clearly not a programmer.

RE: It's about compatibility stupid!
By Akrovah on 1/21/2011 11:59:55 AM , Rating: 2
While to make it a blanket statement that all mobile aps could be ported to x86 in 2 days is riddiculous for obvious reasons, he is also not entirely wrong. Android uses a great deal of Java for its apps, which means it could be feasable to re-write it for a desktop os fairly easy. And Windows Phone 7 uses Silverlight and XNA, both using the .net framework, which is included by default in modern versions of Windows and the coding modifications to change a program from a Widnows Phone 7 target platform to a Windows target platform (or even Xbox 360) is ludicrisly easy.

RE: It's about compatibility stupid!
By omnicronx on 1/21/2011 1:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
Technically... You could most likely compile iOS apps directly to x86, same with Windows Phone and most c++ games on any platform.. (Theres just the fact there is no x86 version of these OS's to run them on)

But that hardly means that porting takes 'two days', which I assure you it does not..

By Akrovah on 1/21/2011 2:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
In the traditional sense of the word, you are right, as porting at the very least would require re-writing the OS interface stuff. But when you are talking about managed code, as used by both Windows Phone and Android (maybe iOS, never looked at development on that) as long as the VM has been written for the plaform and architecture then it doesn't matter what platofrm your program was compiled on.

As an example I had a simple tanks sitting on a hill shooting each other game written in XNA and running under Windows. It took me all of 5 or 6 hours to port it over to Windows Phone because it also uses XNA. I only had to re-write the UI code to use a touch screen instead of a keyboard.

I haven't tried much development for Android, but as I understand it it heavily uses Java, which does have a VM for several x86 based OSes. Again, the Android specific stuff would need to be changed, but the bulk fo the logic written in Java can easily be moved from one platform

RE: It's about compatibility stupid!
By bug77 on 1/21/2011 9:44:14 AM , Rating: 2
Well, Intel in involved in MeeGo. Which is basically Linux which has a history of running on both x86 and ARM. So they may try to use that. Plus, Intel is huge. It can throw a huge pile of cash to the problem.

By fteoath64 on 1/21/2011 10:09:53 AM , Rating: 1
In Meego, they hooked in a "big fish" called Nokia. And likely to drag Nokia into the ground if the Finns are not careful. Just look at the landscape out there. ARM is very well entrenched in the eco-system for mobile and tablets. And Android is the leading OS. There are so many variants of ARM A9 out there which will whipped any ATOM for "performance per watt" which Intel still cannot do. It will take them another 2 years, they do not really have, regardless of how rich there are , they ain't got the goods to play in this space. Sorry, like AMD, Intel has just stunned and neglected ATOM for too long. ANd AMD's APU will eat up the netbook market and parts of the higher-end tablets (Win7 ones) for 2011.
ARM A9 variants will certainly rule the tablet space for 2011 and high-end phones for that matter.
To be blunt, Nokia married a rich-groom-who talks-heaps-does-very-little. It will wake up in Q3-2011 for a witch-hunt.

RE: It's about compatibility stupid!
By gvaley on 1/21/2011 3:03:52 PM , Rating: 2
When it comes to mobile devices, all of the major mobile OS's today are written to run on ARM.

Not true. Android readily runs on x86 and the applications don't need to be ported as they are written in Java and run on a virtual machine. MeeGo is another example that was mentioned by another reader. Apple are sure to jump on the Intel bandwagon if Intel can deliver a good enough product.

Of course they can
By bug77 on 1/21/2011 9:15:03 AM , Rating: 3
They can always offer discounts to those that don't use ARM, can't they?

I wonder what were they thinking claiming they can beat ARM in power efficiency, when all they have is x86? Is there something in the works that we don't know about?

RE: Of course they can
By stimudent on 1/21/11, Rating: -1
RE: Of course they can
By fteoath64 on 1/21/11, Rating: 0
RE: Of course they can
By bug77 on 1/21/2011 11:37:26 AM , Rating: 2
"They can always offer discounts to those that don't use ARM, can't they?" Yes, they can but what will that do ?. Would you buy a tablet or phone that is bulky and will not work fast ?

Let me see... Would you buy a Pentium 4 that is bulky and will use twice the power to do the work an AthlonXP does?
Look up the lawsuit form AMD in case you don't know what I'm talking about.

RE: Of course they can
By silverblue on 1/21/2011 11:58:57 AM , Rating: 2
I believe that's what (s)he meant.

RE: Of course they can
By omnicronx on 1/21/2011 1:19:58 PM , Rating: 1
"They can always offer discounts to those that don't use ARM, can't they?" Yes, they can but what will that do ?.
Have you been under a rock? Have you missed the Intel antitrust suits?

No even going to answer you second paragraph as you are not making sense.
Besides Intel has no access to low-power GPU that is as fast as the ones demo-ed in CES2011 tablets.
Please stop commenting, not only does Intel 'have access', but the GMA 500 and GMA 600 integrated graphics that are currently used for the latest line of Atom chips
ARE the very same chips used in many phones and soon to be tablets. (in fact it uses a Power VR SGX 535 which is exactly the same as the iPhone 3GS/4G and the iPad.

RE: Of course they can
By erple2 on 1/21/2011 6:28:52 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Of course they can
By omnicronx on 1/21/2011 1:14:18 PM , Rating: 3
You wonder what they have? Perhaps a fab facility that is pretty much always a die shrink ahead of everyone else perhaps? Far more resources than any of the current arm manufacturers with the ability to push far more product?

Not much I know... ;)

There is nothing inherently wrong with x86 people, and as ARM pushes their hardware designs making them more complicated, Intel catches up. The simplicity of ARM design is only going to help them for so long.

RE: Of course they can
By bug77 on 1/21/2011 5:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
There is nothing inherently wrong with x86 people

There is: it's a CISC architecture. Which is fine when you're after speedy coding, but it compromises on chip complexity and therefore power requirements. Doesn't get more "inherently wrong" than that.

RE: Of course they can
By Ammohunt on 1/21/2011 2:20:02 PM , Rating: 3
I agree they totally missed the mark when x64 was released by AMD..didn't see that one coming. Currently there is no advantage to running x86 in a mobile device.

By Flunk on 1/21/2011 9:44:22 AM , Rating: 2
This article is misses the mark in several places. ARM doesn't "eliminates register expensive renaming", it mitigates it by having more registers. Also, PowerPC has not been a radical failure. Many CE devices including all current-gen home consoles use PowerPC processors (Wii,360,PS3).

RE: What?
By ShaolinSoccer on 1/21/2011 11:37:42 AM , Rating: 2
What does the PSP use? Speaking of which, I would LOVE to have a cell phone that is exactly like the new PSP except have a touch screen so you can type on a keyboard on that screen. It would also need Android 2.2 or higher :D

C'mon Sony! Get with the program!

RE: What?
By silverblue on 1/21/2011 12:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
"This article is misses the mark in several places. ARM doesn't "eliminates register expensive renaming", it mitigates it by having more registers."

Isn't that the same thing? You don't have general purpose registers that require renaming because you've already got registers set aside for that purpose. More hardware, but simpler code?

RE: What?
By encia on 1/23/2011 11:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
ARM Cortex A9 includes "register renaming scheme" i.e.

RE: What?
By omnicronx on 1/21/2011 1:42:41 PM , Rating: 3
This article is misses the mark in several places. ARM doesn't "eliminates register expensive renaming", it mitigates it by having more registers.
Please.. potato, potAto..

I've seen it written like that in textbooks, so sorry but he is correct. ARM has a reduced instruction set but essentially eliminates expensive register renaming by including extra integer registers.

PPC also is essentially dead in the consumer PC space. Considering where they were at one time, its a complete failure in comparison. Furthermore the Cell is hardly a derivative of the previous PPC chips. The PPC architectural lives on, but PPC chips as we knew them are surely dead..

RE: What?
By encia on 1/23/2011 11:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
ARM Cortex A9 includes "register renaming scheme"


Both ARM and X64 has 16 GPRs.

RE: What?
By encia on 1/23/2011 11:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
ARM Cortex A9 includes "register renaming scheme"


Both ARM and X64 has 16 GPRs.

By MrTeal on 1/21/2011 9:50:19 AM , Rating: 2
I'm at a loss as to why you'd want a full version of Windows on a tablet. Yes you gain application compatibility, but every Windows app for the last 20 years has been written with a keyboard and mouse in mind. For all the attention Apple gives in their commercials to doing work on an iPad, no one's going to be using a tablet to make up spreadsheets, regardless of it you have a full version of windows. Maybe fix a typo or move a graph from here to there, but not do real work.

MS would be much better off working with WinMo 7 and making it superior to iOS than trying to port the x86/x64 version of Windows proper to Arm to use for tablets.

RE: Why?
By bhieb on 1/21/2011 10:01:38 AM , Rating: 2
I'm at a loss as to why you'd want a full version of Windows on a tablet.
To correct you, you're at a loss as to why anyone would want current/past full versions of windows (to that I'd agree), no one really knows what Win8 is going to be. Even Balmer says it is a big gamble. I'd expect it to be radically different. It may in fact be very touch capable (for once).

RE: Why?
By bug77 on 1/21/11, Rating: -1
RE: Why?
By Smilin on 1/21/2011 12:34:42 PM , Rating: 5
I've no interest in any tablet except one that runs a full OS.

I have no interest at all in "apps". I want applications that are fully powered, network and cloud integrated, and make me compromise on nothing.

Some feeble filesystem that is barely accessible and doesn't integrate with anything (SMB, NFS, CIFS etc) is useless. Having a device that cannot communicate with anything but other proprietary devices is useless to me. I want to be able to plug a Harmony Remote in to program it OR use the device itself.

I want to be able to run Media Center. Do not only terminal services but run a Hyper-V manager.

We take for granted all the stuff a truly powerful OS does. How about folder synchronization on your network. Why would I want to pay 99 cents for an "app" do do that in some half-arsed way when it's built into any OS worth a crap.

So that (and a bajillion!) other reasons is why I want a full version of Windows.

If I want insane battery life and some ultra portability ... I already have a mobile phone for that.

So give me Windows, Give me Linux, heck give me OSX on my tablet. Just don't give me iOS or Android (even honeycomb).

By Dribble on 1/21/2011 12:27:12 PM , Rating: 3
The problem for Intel is not so much windows on arm, it's more that no one will be using windows on a portable as some google OS will have completely taken over.

Their comment of "it'll take ages for MS to get windows 8 out" makes it even worse. In other words by the time windows 8 is out they'll have a chip small enough to compete, only by then google will have 90% of the market sown up, and apple will have the other 10%, all using their arm powered chips, and their be no room for windows or x86.

Even if they can produce a chip their outdated licensing method doesn't work. ARM license both their chip designs and the ARM instruction set to anyone who wants it for very reasonable money - being a small & efficient company they can still turn a profit doing that.

Intel won't even license x86, let alone let anyone else near the design of their chips. What's more a gargantuan company like Intel can't survive on the sort of low cost sales that ARM can, so couldn't go that route even if they wanted to.

By sleepeeg3 on 1/21/2011 6:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
Intel thought they could win graphically, too and look how well that turned out! Where did you go, Larrabee?

Being a large corporation and having money to throw around comes with a price - bureaucracy. Intel can't turn on a dime or make up for years of take. It takes time...

RE: Larrabee!
By encia on 1/23/2011 11:32:46 PM , Rating: 1
First, Jason Mick has to learn to look up and read ARM's docs


ARM Cortex A9 includes hardware "register renaming scheme".

Jason Mick can't read ARM's Cortex A9 docs.
By encia on 1/23/2011 11:13:23 PM , Rating: 1
At Jason Mick,

ARM Cortex A9 includes "register expensive renaming" hardware


This is the second time I have posted this ARM info.

By encia on 1/23/2011 11:48:01 PM , Rating: 2

For ARM Cortex A9,
"the A9 adds a re-order buffer and 16 more general purpose registers over the A8 for register renaming".

According to, ARM Cortex A9 includes register renaming.

They can do it.
By Smilin on 1/21/2011 12:12:58 PM , Rating: 2
Intel has made some big drops in power consumption in the past and we tend to think of them as only making heavy chips because that's what everyone buys. Heck just take one of their quad cores and lop 3 cores off of it, run it at 1.5ghz speeds with undervoltage and you're halfway there without really lifting a finger.

(not saying this alone would do the trick but you get an idea).

Furthermore we're talking about the future, not the present.
In the future intel will be releasing whatever they release but think about ARM for a moment:

They have to figure out how to increase processing while maintaining that low power consumption. They have little experience in multi-core design beyond coprocessors. Intel and AMD have been fighting this fight for a couple generations now and they're getting really good at it (especially w/ memory controllers). ARM also has yet to make a leap to a full 64bit instruction set. Intel/AMD(in particular) found a wildly successful path to accomplish this. ARM also doesn't do microcode for crap. This is going to be an issue as their designs become more complicated. One moderate errata and it's going to be mass-recall instead of an update.

ARM makes an awesome low power processor but they made huge tradeoffs to accomplish this. Those tradeoffs are going to bite them hard in the future.

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