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Intel's Shane Wall rails ARM as a blight on smartphones

Intel has never been shy about slamming its main competitors in the various markets that it has a presence. Intel talks itself up as it talks down rival AMD in the computer CPU environment and rival mobile CPU maker ARM gets much the same treatment.

Intel is picking on what it calls the slow iPhone, but is fast to point out that the slowness isn’t Apple's fault. This caveat is no doubt to placate Apple and its iPhone business, which Intel undoubtedly covets. According to Intel's Shane Wall, the problem with the iPhone is its processor which is based on ARM technology.

Wall said, "Any sort of application that requires any horse power at all and the iPhone struggles." Wall maintains that Apple did a good job tackling the mobile Internet and achieved massive buzz for its iPhone thanks to Jobs' deity-like ability to sell products.

The iPhone wasn't alone in being panned by Wall who believes that the ARM processor is blight on smartphones in general. Wall said, "The smartphone of today is not very smart. The problem they have today is they use ARM."

Wall continued to rail on ARM claiming that if you want to run the "full" internet, you are going to need to run an Intel-architecture processor. Ironically, Intel used to make an entire line of ARM-based processors that it sold to Marvell in 2006.

The writing between the lines here is that a "real" internet experience will only be available on devices running CPU's like the Intel Atom or the Moorestown architecture. Many who have used an iPhone can say the internet experience on the iPhone stands head and shoulders above the competition – that is unless you need to use Flash.

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Sounds like
By amanojaku on 10/22/2008 11:30:30 AM , Rating: 4
Sour grapes. First Apple dumps Intel chips in favor of nVidia and Intel complains. Now Intel is attacking AMD's mobile device CPU. Intel should do with Atom what it did with Core/Core2: make it hands-down better than the competition and let the manufacturers and/or consumers decide.

RE: Sounds like
By Moohbear on 10/22/2008 11:36:15 AM , Rating: 5
The situation with ARM is a little different. Switching to a new processor architecture would require a lot of rewriting of the software (OS and applications). Switching from Athlon X2 to Core 2 doesn't require much optimization, if any.

RE: Sounds like
By erikejw on 10/23/2008 1:30:20 AM , Rating: 2
I rather have an ARM with lots of battery life than an Atom system that you will have to charge every 12 hours and is somewhat faster.

The Atom platform as it is today is abysmal when it comes to wattage. It is based on and old PC motherboard chipset architecture and is produced on a process that was state of the art for 5 years ago. No wonder everyone complains about the battery life on ATOM netbooks.

RE: Sounds like
By leexgx on 10/23/2008 1:11:36 PM , Rating: 2
think you have to charge the iphone every 18 hrs any way

RE: Sounds like
By lco45 on 10/24/2008 8:30:22 AM , Rating: 2
Hehe, I've found that's true, but only because I find myself always using the iPhone (eg. watching series 1-7 of Scrubs), which I would never do with another phone...

RE: Sounds like
By bhieb on 10/22/2008 11:40:01 AM , Rating: 2
Probably some truth to that, but Intel is not wrong. ARM is a plauge on cell phones, be it the iPhone or WM the processing power just sucks. I personally love HTC products and the new touch diamond pro looks great, but every video review I've seen the thing is not smooth it tends to hang waiting on the processor. Now most of this is WM fault for not dumbing down the OS to handle the lower processing power (aka the way the iPhone did with no background programs), but I don't want a dumbed down OS I want a fast phone. Even the iPhone hangs and slows on occasion. It is just a week processor.

I just hope Intel can change the game and get the phone a proper CPU.

RE: Sounds like
By Brandon Hill on 10/22/2008 12:21:18 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, but Intel doesn't have anything that fits the power consumption profile or footprint to compete with ARM offerings.

The current Atom comes nowhere close on either fronts. Moorestown is supposed to be 10% more power efficient than the current Atom as the same 45nm design process with a SOI design, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Either way, Intel is totally screwed when it comes to Apple because they're are going to leverage PA Semi tech for the next generation iPhones/iPod touches instead of Intel tech.

RE: Sounds like
By Brandon Hill on 10/22/2008 5:16:32 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I mean to say that Moorsetown will be ten times more power efficient.

RE: Sounds like
By winterspan on 10/24/2008 8:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
In addition the iPhone's ARM processor is old hat. The new Cortex-A8 and especially the A9 are going to be 3-5X faster than the ARM11 in the iPhone, with CPU clocks over 1.0ghz and multi-core variants..

RE: Sounds like
By Proteusza on 10/22/2008 12:24:46 PM , Rating: 3
The thing is that designing a CPU for a mobile device is very different to designing a CPU for a desktop device. Mobile devices are constrained by their limited battery life and limited heat dissipation, which arent such problems for desktop devices. Thus, while the iPhone may not be as fast as your Core 2 Duo, its to be expected, and compared to some phones/smart phones I've seen its still blazingly fast.

Now, I know what you are saying, that Intel is really suggesting people use Atom, and that this has nothing to do with Core 2 Duo. The irony is that Atom generally doesnt do well in performance comparisons to AMD and VIA's equivalent products, while its total platform power consumption is still quite high. Besides which, the Atom and its platform still consumes too much power to be used in a MID.

So basically Intel is kinda wrong.

RE: Sounds like
By bhieb on 10/22/2008 1:45:53 PM , Rating: 4
It is obviously a PR statement for their upcoming products.

Yes CPU for the phone is VASTLY different that for a desktop or even notebooks. What we need a CPU that meets the power requirements, and will run a smart phone smoothly. Sorry but ARM is not currently up to the task. Is it ARM's fault? No, it is the fact that software has outpaced hardware. Problem is that it has been this way since WM5, yes it is not a slim OS, but neither is FarCry a system friendly game. Sometimes it takes "fat" software to make hardware evolve.

All I am saying is aside from the BS, I agree with Intel that ARM is not up to the task for modern phones and has not been for years. Either way we win competition is always a good thing.

RE: Sounds like
By Proteusza on 10/22/2008 2:55:50 PM , Rating: 3
Its not the fastest thing in the world I agree, but without either seriously increasing battery capacity or making a much more powerful CPU with the same power envelope, I'm not sure we will get better.

RE: Sounds like
By PandaBear on 10/23/2008 1:55:58 AM , Rating: 2
Agree. In general for low power embedded system ARM and ARC are the good choice. High power embedded system MIPS and PowerPCs are better. x86 is only useful if you are running legacy program with Windows, DOS. Even Linux aren't optimal running on x86.

The only reason Apple leaves PowerPC is because their volume is too small for IBM/Motorola/TI/etc to develop a dedicated CPU for them at the price they want to pay. You can justify a new architecture that is 10x in price if you are selling a $20k server, but not a $1K desktop or laptop.

Atom is x86 toward the right direction. Now that iPod touch and iPhone can run browsers, once people have enough support base on it, they could realized that is all they need. If Apple ever open up the platform or start selling ARM based browser computer or low end laptop, then it could bring a huge collapse to Intel's domination to the CPU scene.

(Disclaimer, I do not use Mac and personally prefer Windows, but if enough people prefer ARM based Mac/iPod/iPhone then Microsoft will have no choice but to do a simpler OS for ARM for web/media laptop/PC)

RE: Sounds like
By Proteusza on 10/23/2008 3:31:15 AM , Rating: 2
Personally I think Atom is the wrong direction for x86. Long pipelines and high frequencies didnt work for Prescott, and it isnt working for Atom - it seems both VIA Nano and AMD's comparable CPU often deliver better performance per watt.

RE: Sounds like
By Calin on 10/23/2008 4:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
With a proper chipset, Atom would beat Nano in everything. Without it, the Atom mini ITX boards from Intel use active cooling for only one component: the northbridge. The northbridge uses like 5 times more power than the Atom.
As for AMD, I don't know where the Geode line stands - yet, their low energy desktop offerings are so much outside the power envelope of the Atom it isn't even worth considering.
Atom needs a new platform to shine, and Intel isn't doing it until much later - but even with this new platform, Atom won't fit in cell phones

RE: Sounds like
By leexgx on 10/23/2008 1:14:33 PM , Rating: 2
main problem with atom is the ship set you are forced to use the chipset that uses 3 times more power then the cpu it self does (and suffer poor 3d perfomace as well)

RE: Sounds like
By sprockkets on 10/22/2008 3:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
Can't forget all the routers and printers and music players as well.

RE: Sounds like
By retrospooty on 10/22/2008 11:54:37 AM , Rating: 3
Ya... Intel criticizing other CPU's is like McCain criticizing Obama... Its expected, and totally transparent. Next up - Steve Balmer thinks Windows is superior to Mac and Ford thinks they are better than Toyota.

RE: Sounds like
By Grast on 10/22/2008 12:49:19 PM , Rating: 1
McCain criticizing Obama is not transparent. Obama is a socialist and extremely left leaning liberal. While you might agree with the left liberal opinion. I personally do not. Simply because you disagree with another person's point of view does not mean that view is incorrect, transparent, or with out value. Value is specifically based on point of view. To quote Star War's, neither party is lieing "from a certian point of view".

I digress and on to the topic. Intel sold the ARM process to Marvel. Intel is tring to hype their ATOM processor. While not a bad product, it does have failures. As such, the goal of any good ad man is to distract by pointing at the failures of other products.


RE: Sounds like
By retrospooty on 10/22/2008 7:21:34 PM , Rating: 1
Wow... I was mainly referring to it as transparent because its all he does is attack. He has zero to say about himself, just attack attack attack (which is pretty much his foreign policy too LOL). Its obvious to liberals and conservatives alike that its a negative attack based campaign. If you cant at least see that, than you are far too partisaned, and need to open your eyes. Also, Obama is not a socialist, he is an American and a Democrat. Removing Bush's tax custs on the rich is NOT socialism.

RE: Sounds like
By zombiexl on 10/22/2008 9:11:38 PM , Rating: 2
First of all you obviously don't know sh!t about the bush tax cut, except for what the dems have kept saying. The cut was across the board and everyone pays less taxes (and even more people pay no tax at all).

He does not just want to kill that tax cut, but he wants to tax people who are successful and give people who pay 0 in taxes even more money as a "refund". That is where people get that he's a socialist/Marxist. That is just the beginning of his socialist plans.

Before you refer to someone else as a partisan i suggest you do a little reading on your own and dig up the facts for yourself.

RE: Sounds like
By retrospooty on 10/23/2008 9:29:07 AM , Rating: 2
I've got the facts buddy. He's got my vote, my support, and according to the latest polls, a 10% lead.

Enjoy the election =)

RE: Sounds like
By Grast on 10/23/2008 11:55:11 AM , Rating: 2
When you lose your job because your company can no longer afford to pay medical and social programs supported by your candidate, good choice.

When you house continues to lose it value because of your candidates social agenda and policies, good choice.

Agreement: I do agree with you that McCain is leading with a negative campain. That is my disgrement with my candidate. I think he should be directly showing how Obama is amateur with no understanding of personal responsiblity and economic policy.

<attack> The problem with you is that you have gotten used to living off of my tax dollars. what is wrong not smart enough or too lazy to get an education and make something of your self. OR are one of those which really stepped on everyone and everthing to get were you are and you are now having a crisis of conscience. <attack>

I just wanted you to know when I was being respectful and attacking you personally, sorry about the personal attack.

RE: Sounds like
By retrospooty on 10/23/2008 5:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
Lose my job? I hate to break this to you, but starting in 2000, the republicans had the Oval office and both the house and senate for 6 straight years. Thier policies took our economy into the toilet. How can you possibly say that Obama's plan wont work? Republicans have ZERO room to talk about the economy. We tried it thier way and failed miserably.

Obama wants only to eliminate the Bush tax cuts on the rich, and go back to the way it was under CLinton... Remember, prosperity?

RE: Sounds like
By we3d on 10/23/2008 5:08:26 AM , Rating: 1
As a socialist and extremely left leaning liberal, let me reassure you that Obama is not.

He keeps voting for the war, he voted for Bush's telecom immunity, he voted for the latest expansion of copyright powers, refuses to impeach Bush for torture, etc... Some of these things, even McCain wasn't fool enough to vote for. Let's face it, all you get with Obama is the chance to "HOPE" that, as president, he's not going to be as conservative as he was in the Senate.

McCain criticizing Obama is just as silly as Obama critizing McCain. Dang Republocrats are all the same.

Remaining on topic, I'd agree about atom. It's a nice chip and all, but it's not in the same league as ARM. I mean have you seen TI's latest ARM based processor? Its got got a Cortex core with a high speed DSP and built in PowerVR graphics accelerator, usb, audio, SD/SDIO, all in one chip. I will note that Intels chipset designed for the Atom is using either the same PowerVR core, or a slightly faster one.

RE: Sounds like
By amanojaku on 10/22/2008 12:40:35 PM , Rating: 3
Looks like I made a mistake. The ARM CPU in the iPhone isn't made by AMD. It's from Samsung, specifically the Samsung S5L8900 or Samsung S3C6400 (ARM 1176 core.)

RE: Sounds like
By andyjary on 10/22/2008 3:34:59 PM , Rating: 3
Seems to me like everybody is making a mistake!

ARM is a BRITISH company that are based 60 miles from where I live. Samsung might FAB their designs, but they are not designed by them. ARM are FAB-less.

Just thought I'd put everybody straight here.

Suck on that, Intel. xxx

RE: Sounds like
By andyjary on 10/22/2008 3:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the real information on the story, incase you're interested:

RE: Sounds like
By spartan014 on 10/23/2008 6:43:33 AM , Rating: 2
Real information ?

'The Inquirer'?


why are they targetting Apple
By omnicronx on 10/22/2008 1:11:59 PM , Rating: 5
This is just Intel trying to pitch their own products, almost every smartphone on the market including windows mobile phones make use of ARM processors. They use it because it offers the best power per watt ratio of any portable mainstream processor, and it is relatively easy to program.

Until Intel can come up with a processor than even comes close to competing were ARM in terms of power consumption and size, then they may have an argument. Until then, I think they should shut their traps.

RE: why are they targetting Apple
By BoyBawang on 10/22/2008 2:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
I really love the elegance of ARM architecture: RISC, no legacy X86, very power efficient, and hardware integration of mobile components.

ARM can simply ramp up the megahertz to make it faster but mobile is not just about power but battery life is more important.

With Windows Mobile 7 coming, I hope the future of ARM will enter and replace our legacy x86 desktop PCs

RE: why are they targetting Apple
By TomZ on 10/22/08, Rating: 0
RE: why are they targetting Apple
By omnicronx on 10/22/2008 3:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
There's nothing inherently more elegant about ARM or RISC - give me a break. At the end of the day, the elegance of a processor is more defined based on what it can deliver in terms of performance, power, functionality, size, and cost.
And which processor leads in all of these categories when taking only mobile applications into consideration? The Atom was supposed to be the successor to XSCALE, and for ultra mobile purposes, it was an extreme failure in that respect.

ARM is not relegated to running anything, in fact your statement makes no sense, ARM is the backbone of the mobile world currently runs far more OS flavors of pretty much any mainstream processor. (Windows mobile, Symbian, Darwin(Apple), Linux(android, i know darwin is also unix), and the countless amounts of other proprietary OS's that are used in cell phones around the world). This compared to the three mainstream X86 OS's, Windows, Unix, and OSX which is also technically Unix.

I could go on with the ARM list, but ill just give you the link. Many of the ones I did not list are NOT crappy niche OS's, they are broadly used.

RE: why are they targetting Apple
By MrPoletski on 10/22/2008 4:22:37 PM , Rating: 2
I think the tactic is to move x86 and eventually Microsoft onto all mobile devices. If in doubt, blame microsoft. =)

RE: why are they targetting Apple
By TomZ on 10/22/2008 4:42:53 PM , Rating: 2
Believe me - I "get" the ARM - no need to point me towards marketing blurbs. I've been programming on ARM for years now.

ARM "suffers" from the problems common to most embedded system type processors. Crappy tools, crappy OSs, and resulting low productivity. For example, what are industry-standard development tools for ARM used on non-Windows platforms? Packages like Keil are typical - functional, but very, very primitive, especially when you compare them to state-of-the art development tools for Windows.

My point really is that, if we could have X86 compatibility with similar price and performance to ARM, that would be a "good thing." One platform from high-end servers/workstations down through netbooks and into mobile devices and phones. A continuum of hardware with common software. Sounds good to me.

RE: why are they targetting Apple
By Pirks on 10/22/2008 3:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
When you call mobile OS X a crappy niche OS you look pretty stupid.

RE: why are they targetting Apple
By TomZ on 10/22/2008 4:35:20 PM , Rating: 2
Specifically, the problem with the proliferation of OSs is that there is no convergence onto any kind of standard platform. This makes it much more difficult for an open ecosystem to develop around these types of mobile devices. For example, if I write a killer app for an iPhone, then I have to port or re-write it if I want to run on a device running Symbian OS. Not to mention the other few OSs. That's the part that's crappy.

The thing that is nice about Windows is that nearly everyone uses it. So any investment made in an app or device for Windows is usable by a large customer base.

RE: why are they targetting Apple
By jtesoro on 10/24/2008 11:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
ARM is, at least for now, relegated to running Windows Mobile as well as crappy niche OSs.

To make it more accurate, "ARM is, at least for now, relegated to running crappy niche OSs like Windows Mobile"

Intel talks from its behind.
By TotalImmortal on 10/22/2008 12:33:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm posting this from my Nokia N800 tablet which uses an arm processor. Everything is nice and quick and the battery life is amazing. Try putting an atom processor in a phone and see how long the battery lasts! 30mins? and how hot would it get?


RE: Intel talks from its behind.
By nitrous9200 on 10/22/2008 4:05:35 PM , Rating: 2
When the Atom itself and the chipset get die shrunk (and eventually combined), any device with it would have pretty good performance compared to an ARM. But look at the new ARM Cortex, in the Open Pandora ( handheld and the Archos 5. According to the Pandora's developers, "it will be able to handle things such as Firefox3 or Quake3 with ease." And the Archos 5 is able to run flash enabled web pages much better than the previous 605 model. So who knows who'll come out on top?

RE: Intel talks from its behind.
By ET on 10/22/2008 6:34:21 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Add the promised speed improvements of Fennec as a browser, and I figure that ARM CPU's will handle the web quite well.

Still, the CPU is far from being the major obstacle to decent browsing on a mobile phone. I'm much more bothered by the screen size and input on these devices (and the lack of support for Flash and the like, though that's a software issue) than I'm by the speed of page loading.

RE: Intel talks from its behind.
By TomZ on 10/22/2008 8:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
CPU speed is an important factor in browsing. You see this if you have two machines, one slow and one fast, on the same Internet connection. The fast machine will render pages faster and give you a smoother browsing experience with less delay.

RE: Intel talks from its behind.
By BoyBawang on 10/22/2008 11:22:27 PM , Rating: 2
Here are the points to prove that you lack common sense.

1. CPU speed is important in browsing but it's not really a big deal when we also consider battery life! I can start reading web pages immediately even if it's not finished loading. When it's done, the CPU is idle while i'm reading where i spent 90% of my time.

2. x86 compatibility? It's bad to run x86 applications in it's current state in mobile handsets. It should be rewritten with Power efficiency Philosophy in mind. The interface too should undergo a major overhaul to suit small displays and finger operations.

3. ARM can simply ramp up the frequency or implement a die shrink if it's about speed. But they know that mobile computing is all about battery life. What's the use of that speed if you have to recharge every few hours? And why should I need a fast processor in reading texts and sending SMS? Unless I want the CPU to convert the texts into flying 3d with complex shaders.

4. You should know that ARM is not sitting idle. 1ghz Snapdragon will come shortly and Nivdia too will also play some role with ARM. And don't even mention about running "Crisis" in a cellphone or else I call you idiot! Interestingly, Carmack says iPhone is "more powerful than a Nintendo DS and PSP combined"

RE: Intel talks from its behind.
By Chocobollz on 10/24/2008 2:34:02 PM , Rating: 2
And who would use FF3 in a mobile device when you have Opera Mini? ;-) Nothing beats Opera in the mobile space ;-)

And yes, I'm an Opera supporter and I've already tried all the other browser and Opera beats 'em all! ;-)

By AntiV6 on 10/22/2008 11:26:04 AM , Rating: 4
Intel is still but hurt about Apple using nVidia motherboard's in their new MacBooks.

RE: Gosh.
By grebe925 on 10/22/2008 12:13:17 PM , Rating: 5
Wait until these MacBooks start frying and Apple will wish it'd stuck with Intel's bland offerings:

Some of the 9xxx chipsets touch 200F!!! (wonder if Nvidia is also marketing them as suitable for use in toasters too):

Sour Grapes
By mmntech on 10/22/2008 11:30:06 AM , Rating: 2
Ironically, Intel used to make an entire line of ARM-based processors that it sold to Marvell in 2006.

In other words, Intel is only railing the the "slow iPhone" and ARM because they foolishly sold the line and thus aren't getting the lucrative royalties from Samsung and Apple. It's no surprise this came out the day after Apple announced 10 million iPhones sold. That's 10 million CPUs Intel could have but didn't.

RE: Sour Grapes
By TomZ on 10/22/2008 12:24:46 PM , Rating: 1
Selling their ARM line and developing Atom and its successors was absolutely not a mistake. Atom provides much higher performance than ARM and at a similar price point.

RE: Sour Grapes
By dubldwn on 10/22/2008 12:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but you can’t put the current atom in a cell phone. Maybe Moorestown will work and they’re trying to set the stage for them being the go to company for the next gen cells.

RE: Sour Grapes
By foolsgambit11 on 10/22/2008 3:46:18 PM , Rating: 2
It's going to take a combination of a fantastic x86 platform and incredibly well-written OS/software to make it possible for Intel CPUs to get into MIDs. Then, sadly, people will start porting desktop applications full of bloat to their smartphones, and wondering why they don't get the performance they are expecting.

Moving to x86 may allow cross-compatibility, but it will be painfully buggy cross-compatibility, especially when it comes to programs which rely heavily on recent extensions to the ISA which won't be supported by mobile x86 parts - resulting in major performance hits.

Of course, those programs which are feasibly ported to MIDs will be programmed and have versions compiled with their instruction sets and capabilities in mind. But for a large number of programs, people will just copy the program over to their phones and expect it to work perfectly.

We're in for some growing pains.

By Wolfpup on 10/23/2008 1:36:58 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's pretty self-evident the CPU is massively underpowered for anyone who's used the platform. We've been stuck on that same basic spec for half a decade now. And mobile Safari really isn't anywhere near a real web browser, though it's probably the best mobile browser I've yet used.

But some web sites-even without flash-slow it to a crawl and sometimes cause crashes.

By Chocobollz on 10/24/2008 2:40:56 PM , Rating: 2
My suggestion, use the Opera Mini and you'll change your mind about which the best mobile browser on earth! ;-)

By psonice on 10/22/2008 11:59:55 AM , Rating: 3
It's no secret that Apple have access to Intel's future product plans to some extent at least, and it's no secret that they bought a chip design company to produce ARM based designs in house.

Perhaps they took a good look at what intel had lined up, and decided they didn't want it?

By othercents on 10/22/2008 12:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
Is this enough to be called slander? To bash another competitor's product for being slow when you don't have a product that is a direct replacement is borderline at best.

Quit being such a baby and build a better product. I think Intel is starting to get its advice from the people who have been producing the advertisements for the Presidential Candidates.


Missing the point...
By skaaman on 10/22/2008 2:38:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yes this is marketing bravado. But all commentary about Intel not having anything that fits the bill for smartphones is just rehash. Atom was the beginning. The biggest suprise from Atom is it has become the darling of the emerging NetBook market.

Moorestown will improve the platform and continue to push the power envelope lower. But as was so well pointed out in Anandtechs initial review of Atoms release, its the platforms possibilities looking 2 to 3 generations out (at 32nm and ultimately 22nm) that are potentially most intriguing.


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