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  (Source: Marvel and DC Comics)
Meanwhile Intel strikes back with smartphone chips

The war between Intel Corp. (INTC) and the alliance of chipmakers using ARM Holdings, Plc.'s (LON:ARM) titular core designs is heating up.  Intel is the world's largest personal computer CPU maker, while ARM Holdings is the largest core licenser on the general CPU market, which includes everything from the chip in your dishwasher to automotive CPUs.  The stage is set for the pair to duke it out at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

I. Intel Bets on Its Process Technology

At CES the hot topic for Intel will be Medfield.  Medfield is Intel's crack at an ultra-mobile x86 system-on-a-chip, a type of design that incorporates a CPU, GPU, RAM, and I/O controllers all into a single die.  Intel's hope is to eventually cut the platform's power consumption low enough to put it on smartphones [source; PDF].  

Intel CEO Paul Otellini is expected to unveil smartphone designs in his keynote on Jan. 10.  The pressing question is whether this technology is production ready, or still in the prototype phase.

Even if it doesn't achieve the goal of production smartphone chips in 2012, it has a good shot at achieving it in 2013 when its 22 nm 3D FinFET transistor technology is brought onboard Medfield's successor.

Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist for research firm In-Stat, in an interview with Bloomberg emphasizes how critical this push is for Intel, stating, "For Intel, it's a 'we have to be there.'  Never bet against a computing device that fits in your pocket. I do more on my smartphone than any other device."

Intel's x86 is a complex instruction set computer (CISC) architecture.  Intel has struggled to match ARM -- a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture -- in power efficiency.  

Intel's first foray into the mobile space -- tablets based on its Moorestown (Android-aimed) and Oak Trail (Windows-aimed) -- was largely a flop with very low sales over 2011.

But Intel looks to be much more competitive soon.  Two things have become increasingly clear in this more competitive market.  The first is that despite all Intel's work ARM is likely to maintain a slight power edge due to advantages of its architecture.  The second thing is that Intel is on the verge of gaining a substantial an edge of its own, through its dedication to developing the best process (chip manufacturing) technologies on the market (e.g. 3D FinFET).

In the world of computer chips smaller transistors means less power, so it's a big deal that Intel is about to unleash 22 nm, even as its competitors reportedly are struggling with the transition to 28-32 nm.  When you add in the proprietary power-sipping "fin" gate design, in theory Intel could compensate for its architectural disadvantages and beat ARM at its own game.

II. For ARM it's All About Sticking to its Guns -- Architecture

For ARM chipmakers like NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) and Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM), there isn't the luxury of coasting on a process lead.  For them it's all about the architecture.  While much of the architecture's baseline performance is dependent on the designs produced by ARM, a fair amount of the performance also falls on the partner's ability to tweak and maximize its finished die.

The ARM alliance isn't exactly resting on their laurels.  According to a report by Bloomberg, Qualcomm earlier on Jan. 10 will show off its counterstrike against Intel -- high-end ARM CPUs aimed at laptops.  

Qualcomm toyed with this idea in the netbook realm as early as two years ago.  But it lacked the powerful CPUs that people expected of full-sized laptops.  Now that it's got those CPUs, it's waiting on the second key part of that equation -- support from most peoples' OS of choice -- Windows.  

Windows with ARM
Windows 8 is finally supporting ARM chips, as shown here in this CES 2011 shot -- Qualcomm is expected to unveil some powerful notebook at CES 2012. [(c) DailyTech/Jason Mick]

That support has arrived with Windows 8, currently in its beta phase.  Finally breaking its "Wintel" tradition -- of targeting Windows primarily at Intel chips, Microsoft is throwing its weight behind ARM as well.

Windows 8 offers full support for ARM CPUs, although legacy software products will have to be recompiled to work on the new architecture.  Given Windows' shift to app market software distribution model, though, legacy software may be less of an issue than some have previously speculated.

Even analysts who are mildly optimistic about Intel's mobile prospects are concerned about this fresh blood in the laptop space.  Daniel Amir, an analyst at San Francisco, Calif.-based Lazard Capital Markets estimates that Intel will reach around 13 percent share in the smartphone market by 2015, of an estimated total market of 1.1 billion devices that year (2011's market was 300 million devices).  

But he also estimates than ARM's purpose-driven designs will steal a third of the mobile computer (laptop/netbook) market by 2015, up from 8 percent in 2011.  That market is expected to also see growth, expanding from 275 million units in 2011 to 340 million units in 2015.

The key problem for Intel, though, says Mr. Amir is that laptop chips fetch a higher price -- around $107 USD on average -- where as smartphone chips are typically priced around $20 USD.  In that sense Intel has more to lose in the laptop market where it currently has an 80 percent market share.  Mr. Amir states, "[Intel] needs to be sure that [they're] not losing the notebook."

He predicts $2.2B USD in lost sales for Intel by 2015.

Qualcomm and others still have a lot to prove, however.  Much like Intel must prove that it can scale its powerful chips to smaller, lower-power smartphone designs, Qualcomm must prove that it can scale its smaller, lower-power chips to higher power laptop designs.  

The first major test for Qualcomm will come with its Windows 8 laptop and tablet developer platforms, which it plans to release shortly.  In a bit of a sign of favoritism to its traditional x86 partner, Windows 8's reference tablet and notebook designs are still sporting Intel chips.  But Qualcomm isn't concerned about this, saying that it's ready to put its own reference designs in competitors’ hands.

III. Servers -- the Third Tier

With ARM invading the laptop space and x86 invading the smartphone/tablet space, it's easy to forget that there's four pillars of the modern computing chip market:

i. Embedded
ii. Mobile Devices
iii. Servers
iv. Personal Computers

While Intel hasn't shown much interest in squeezing x86 into the low-volume embedded market, the third tier -- servers -- is a crucial bread and butter sector of Intel's business.  Intel can sell server chips to businesses at much higher prices than its consumer chips command.

But ARM is preparing to invade this market as well.  Hewlett Packard Comp. (HPQ) is working on the world's first mass market server chip designs.  We may not see these designs at CES, or at least not on prominent display.  But keep this final frontier of the conflict in the back of your mind.

Calxeda dense server
[Image Source: Calxeda/ARM Holdings/HP]

If ARM penetrates the server market -- another power consumption sensitive application -- Intel may be impacted far more severely than if ARM penetrates the slightly lower margin laptop/netbook market.

Source: Bloomberg

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Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By Mitch101 on 1/3/2012 11:24:52 AM , Rating: 5
There is nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM chips other than damaging their EGO and Intel is a monster powerhouse when it comes to fabrication. Intel could create a hybrid monster of a chip kind of like NVIDIA is kind of doing with their GPU knowledge still dont rule out Intel's fabrication abilities being one step ahead of everyone. Imagine Intel making ARM chips on a tri-gate manufacturing process and die shrink some 12 months before anyone else is able to get there.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By Reclaimer77 on 1/3/2012 11:50:49 AM , Rating: 4
I don't want Intel to make ARM chips. I want x86 to thrive as a mobile CPU so I can run my Windows programs on tablets etc.

Imagine a time where we can play a popular MMO on a tablet as easily and natively as our PC's? We need x86 mobile for that.

For universal device/software comparability, x86 needs to do what it did in the mobile market as it did for PC's. And I believe with tri-gate and the newer processes, this is all but a given.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By serkol on 1/3/2012 12:02:42 PM , Rating: 2
If your smartphone, Win Pad, desktop, laptop are all Windows and are all ARM, you will be able to run the same apps on them. I use Macs, and I don't mind if everything I own is Mac OS and ARM, one day :-)

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By defter on 1/3/2012 12:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
No it doesn't work like that.

It's easier to run X86/Windows software on X86/Linux than on ARM/Windows.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By gamerk2 on 1/3/12, Rating: 0
RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By Reclaimer77 on 1/3/2012 1:24:52 PM , Rating: 1
Not if its recompiled, which if you avoid lacing too many X86 instructions in your code, isn't that hard to do.

I'm talking to taking a program or file or whatever from my Windows PC, and putting it on my Windows x86 tablet. And it running natively. You're talking about recompiling??

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By Fritzr on 1/3/2012 10:06:24 PM , Rating: 2
He's talking about next year's releases. As an End-User you really shouldn't care about the instruction set the program requires with the exception that it be supported by your hardware.

This could be a transition from x86/AMD64 to ARM64.

In the beginning programs will be optimized for one or the other with ports being recompiled for the other.

Currently we have x86/AMD64 on laptops and above in terms of personal computers and servers.

ARM32/ARM64 for tablets, smartphones and low power embedded.

For Server and general use embedded there is an odd mix of the market leaders and many lesser known instruction sets.

The ARM chips are starting to invade the consumer computer market with netbooks. Essentially ARM powered notebook computers. As ARM gains computing power they will move into full powered notebooks and then desktop computers.

Having Win8 run natively on ARM will help with this transition. The lack of an x86 emulator will slow it down in the beginning, but after a couple of years there will be 'legacy' ARM programs & a growing number of ARM ports & clones of the popular x86 software. At that point the industry can phase out x86 and let ARM take over the load.

Apple used this transition model as the Mac went from Motorola 68k to PPC to x86.

To a lesser extent Windows has done this also. Early versions of Windows were 100% MSDOS compatible. Later various items became unsupported and users simply moved to products that offered similar function or assembled a legacy OS computer to run the programs that no longer work on a 'modern' system.

By Reclaimer77 on 1/4/2012 9:57:19 AM , Rating: 3
Sorry but I can't take anyone seriously who suggest Windows 8 is the start of X86 being "phased out". x86 isn't going anywhere, for better or worst.

Also as much as I would like to see it succeed, I have this nagging feeling that Windows 8 tablets will flop. Because...

Having Win8 run natively on ARM will help with this transition. The lack of an x86 emulator will slow it down in the beginning, but after a couple of years there will be 'legacy' ARM programs & a growing number of ARM ports & clones of the popular x86 software.

Windows 8 doesn't HAVE a couple of years. The competition in this space is brutal. Who knows what Apple or Google will come out with later on.

How about this; Let's see if Microsoft can actually GET some market share in the smartphone/tablet consumer space before we talk about them being the engineer of x86's downfall?

In fact Windows 8 not able to natively or emulate x86 software was a huge misstep imo. A tablet fully compatible with my PC and it's programs would have been AMAZING. But if that's not the case, why trade in your Android/iOS tablet for one? What do you get? Yay I'm sure we all can't wait to go to ANOTHER closed source "app store" and spend even more money on a platform that's incompatible with everything else. Awesome...

It's really a shame. Millions of people held their breath with the announcement of a "Windows tablet" in hope that it could be a TRUE Windows experience, only to have that hope dashed.

Apple used this transition model as the Mac went from Motorola 68k to PPC to x86.

Apple's with those CPU's had a pathetic market share. x86 is all pervasive and has saturated the planet. Not a very good example imo.

In closing and simply put, x86 isn't going anywhere until Intel says so because they've come out with something new and better. That's probably the facts of the matter.

By vol7ron on 1/4/2012 3:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
Like a virus?

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By nafhan on 1/3/2012 1:04:42 PM , Rating: 3
I use Macs, and I don't mind if everything I own is Mac OS and ARM, one day
You'd have to re-purchase all your software or run it through a horribly slow translation layer. At least that's the historical precedent for CPU arch. changes...

By B3an on 1/4/2012 7:04:24 AM , Rating: 2
That doesn't matter. As long as it has an Apple logo people like him will buy it regardless of how poor it is.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2012 6:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
I still think the market for arm computing is cloud based. Google and Arm should be working together to make a google chrome based netbook. Only I would like to see a slicker netbook architecture like what you see in ultrabooks(thin and no moving parts).

By Reclaimer77 on 1/3/2012 7:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
The average person doesn't know the difference between ARM and x86. But a Chrome notebook that's incompatible with everything they know? I think they'll take notice of that. I see that product as a non-starter.

By fteoath64 on 1/4/2012 1:12:20 AM , Rating: 2
ChromeBook was dead the moment Google issued the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to their developers. It does much much more than a ChromeBook ever intends and priced similarly, if not cheaper for other brands like Iconia 7.

With Asus Transformer, it completely eclipses a chromeBook with native Android OS and good browser to boot. So ChromeBooks has had its day and is passed now. Yes, I am saying Android OS on a tablet does almost all of what a notebook can do. That is enough for most people.

By Menoetios on 1/3/2012 6:23:45 PM , Rating: 1
Imagine a time when the most popular applications and games are designed for the ARM architecture, and we have 5-6 CPU manufacturers (Qualcomm, Samsung, TI, Nvidia, possibly Intel and AMD too) competing against each other for our business instead of one and one-third the way it is with x86.

By sprockkets on 1/3/2012 7:02:14 PM , Rating: 3
I don't want Intel to make ARM chips. I want x86 to thrive as a mobile CPU so I can run my Windows programs on tablets etc.

Well apple had other plans and in the process wrecked everyone elses. Get used to ironies like apple being a "gaming platform."

Before you know it the only printers that will exists will say iOS ready on them. At that point I'll stop buying computers.

By fteoath64 on 1/4/2012 12:58:52 AM , Rating: 2
Intel has been promising mobile (phones and tablets) x86 for almost 5 years and not a single product shipping in any volume to date. They have failed. Do they expect us to wait another 5 years before they can do that ?.

Meanwhile the ARM A9 has matured in smartphones and tablets to be the standard volume product and evolving to A15 which will dominate the next generation. X86 still is in promise state and will remain behind in overall performance and especially poor in battery life compared to ARM. This is one time in the industry where you see a winning architecture soar while a constrained architecture remaining in prototype no matter what was thrown at it. Yeah, many wants to see X86 mobile give ARM a good competitive kick,but alas,that will not be the case here.
I will say this again, Intel get an Arm license and join the race with innovation that is not X86 in this space.

By MarioJP on 1/5/2012 12:10:03 AM , Rating: 2
Me too. Not because its x86/x64 its because real programs are riding on it. Not these fart/angry/applets/pinch and crop/auto synthesizer where you tap tap and it makes beats for you. Don't get me wrong music apps are cool but the concept is not new. I still think you need a PC to serve these tablets and smartphones a place to keep your data more securely. Your ipad could break your phone can be blocked,etc. In any case competition is good though so just bring it!.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By vol7ron on 1/3/2012 12:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well, they would have to license it and being Intel, I bet they would be charged more than competitors.

Also, Intel already has went RISC before with controller chips (i960) and the StrongARM CPU and I think the Itanium is RISC-based.

That said, if Intel wanted to go RISC, I'm not so sure they'd go ARM, they might fall back on their own patents, or re-develop.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By Shig on 1/3/2012 1:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
From what I've read about the industry roadmaps in fabrication, Intel moving to 22nm 3-D transistors was multiple years ahead of anyone else. Similar roadmaps can keep up with the lithography dimensions, but they're 2-3 years behind on FinFet, and that's optimistic. FinFet by itself is nearly worth an entire node shrink in performance, even more so when you're dealing with lower voltage performance.

If Intel pulls off good yields with Ivy Bridge, things will not look good for other fabs and the companies that rely on them.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By french toast on 1/3/2012 1:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
Fair point, however early ivy bridge indications point to the lower end chips having very simular tdps as the sandy bridge parts with only minimal performance improvement.

Of course this new node tech will help it alot, but x86 akready starts at a massive disadvantage due to legacy bloat, so it may take 22nm finFET just to stay competitve in 2011..let alone 2013 when it MAY release..
By that time arm will be moving to 22nm themselfs..
I just see it working out some how

By vol7ron on 1/4/2012 3:13:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm confident that Intel will make the right decision when competition closes in. I admit, I'm not an expert in this, but from my understanding a lot of x86 bloat is due to deals Intel has made with companies that still run that old software.

My question is, can you take some of those instructions away and still have today's programs (Office/games) that don't rely on those instructions, to operate unaffected. If so, they might be x86-based, so that most of the x86 compiled programs today are still functional, but still be reduced to improve efficiency.

Either way, Intel has shown a history of relying on its production means until competition ramped up and caused them to switch. Take, for instance, the Pentium CPU. They kept increasing Hz, not efficiency. Competition came in, and no longer was it about clock speed, but the biggest improvement was doing what AMD had done (Intel's card up its sleeve): moving the memory controller off the board and on die.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By geddarkstorm on 1/3/2012 2:45:24 PM , Rating: 1
The fact ARM is resoundly beating Intel in the mobile space, and now posed to invade into laptops (and servers), all while having a massive disadvantage process and manufacturing wise, says a lot about the ARM architecture (or conversely says a lot negatively about x86).

Just imagine paring ARM's architecture prowess with Intel's manufacturing, and we could have CPUs that are jawdropping.

By encia on 1/4/2012 8:48:28 AM , Rating: 2
CPU alone doesn't complete a laptop i.e. the GPU factor.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By bruce24 on 1/3/2012 2:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
Well, they would have to license it

They are ready have a license. While they sold most of their Xscale line to Marvell back in 2006 they kept Network and Media processors based on Xscale, which they have since moved to x86, but still have the license to design/manufacture ARM processors.

By Shig on 1/3/2012 5:21:36 PM , Rating: 2
This is a little off-topic, but I want to commend ARM on their recent initiative of 'Big-Little' processing. They are making great strides in power gating technology and pairing 'big-iron' processing with super efficient processing.

In Intel terms this would be like a Sandybridge processor coming together with an Atom processor with graphics on the same die. Whenever you needed a lot of power, sandybridge turns on, whenever you don't, atom turns on, and the other turns off, and vise versa.

This is apparent in the Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core. This processor is actually a 5 core CPU that has 4 'big' cores and one 'little' core, with nearly full power gating. The goal is to use exactly as much cpu power that you need at any one point totally maximizing performance and battery life.

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2012 6:13:27 PM , Rating: 2
With intel's talent and R&D budget it would be interesting to see what they could come with if they dropped all legacy and came up with something entirely new.

By Calin on 1/4/2012 4:35:02 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Nothing to prevent Intel from making ARM
By encia on 1/4/2012 8:36:38 AM , Rating: 2
By marsovac on 1/9/2012 7:56:33 PM , Rating: 2
I added something to the graph that puts ARM in a much better position. Something that Intel omitted on purpose.

By Hector2 on 1/6/2012 10:33:45 AM , Rating: 2
Been there, done that. Intel bought the StrongARM IP in 1997 from DEC when they were going out of business. They developed it into the XScale architecture but sold it all to Marvell in 2006.

By Roffles on 1/3/2012 5:08:10 PM , Rating: 4
I have ~$50,000 worth of native X86 software on my computer that requires ~$10,000/yr for support and maintenance. That doesn't include all the perfectly capable office productivity software and random tools galore that I've payed for over the years. It all works perfectly fine out of the box. I'm not crossing my fingers hoping my yearly software maintenance fees will go towards reworking my software to support new platforms. X86 is tried and true, there's no reason to change it, and that's pretty much a constant in the universe. ARM should be bracing for Intel X86's entrance into the ARM tablet space....because there is a massive corporate investment behind X86 and they will follow Intel into the low-power, high-performance, ultra-portable space when that day finally comes.

I think too many people are stuck in the consumer-reality distortion bubble. Websites like techcrunch, theverge and engadget will allude to the death of the X86 PC all day while pointlessly and incessantly blogging about how awesome the newest ARM based fart-applications and ARM based fart-hardware is. Why? Because they staff young people, straight out of college, who don't understand the concept of doing real work with real computers. There reviews and blogs reflect this sad reality, and if you spend too much time reading these blogs, your perceptions will also be skewed.

It's almost like they all think Intel X86 is irrelevant because the companies that support it aren't constantly making headlines with some random consumer oriented gimmick. I'm constantly wondering when and if this reality distortion bubble is going to pop.

RE: Ugh...
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2012 6:04:21 PM , Rating: 2
Your $50,000 worth of software will be worth $5 in five years anyways. Software gets left behind, thats just how it goes. Supposedly one of the main hurdles in developing windows is trying to maintain legacy support for companies with insanely old custom software.

RE: Ugh...
By ct760ster on 1/3/2012 6:09:40 PM , Rating: 2
Should be possible for the x86 going the way of the Space Shuttle.

RE: Ugh...
By Reclaimer77 on 1/3/2012 7:46:14 PM , Rating: 2
Should be possible for the x86 going the way of the Space Shuttle.

That's not going to happen anytime soon.

RE: Ugh...
By encia on 1/4/2012 8:53:48 AM , Rating: 2
Latest AMD GCN has X86-64 IP.

RE: Ugh...
By Roffles on 1/3/2012 6:51:31 PM , Rating: 1
If by legacy, you must mean Office Professional Plus 2010, Tekla Structures, AutoCAD Mechanical 2011 and Adobe Acrobat X? No, I'm pretty sure it will all be worth $50,000 in five years (probably more due to inflation) and it will also be X86 in five years. And there is nothing "legacy" about X86 software that you pay thousands of dollars yearly in maintenance to ensure that you get updates to new versions and technical support. You're obviously one of the people I was referring to who is stuck in a consumer-reality distortion bubble. Like I said, X86 is tried and true and ARM's generation of disposable non-productive fart-electronics doesn't reflect the wants and needs of the enterprise.

Supposedly, this year Win8 X86 tablets will hit the market. With the touch friendly MetroUI in the front and a fully operational Windows8 operating system in the back that will take all my "legacy" software. We're talking about using the same piece of hardware for the pointless farting around in my spare time and then docking it to a keyboard and mouse and doing something productive with it. How can ARM complete with that? Honestly, I'd like to know how they could?

RE: Ugh...
By someguy123 on 1/3/2012 9:46:46 PM , Rating: 2
The software you listed doesn't come close to $50,000. It'll compete with that in power draw, the same way it does now. ARM doesn't have any solutions and aren't actively chasing high performance systems.

I agree with you that we don't really need or want to drop x86, especially with process shrinks making their hit much less substantial, but it won't make sense to support x86 on mobile unless intel delivers similar performance/watt, which could be possible soon if they smoothly transition to finfet and smaller processes. Win8 will have support for ARM as well as x86.

RE: Ugh...
By Roffles on 1/3/2012 10:48:17 PM , Rating: 1
Haha...what? And you know this because you payed less $40000 for your Tekla Structures seat and $4000/yr maintenance/upgrades? And you payed less than $4000 for your AutoCAD seat and $500/yr for maintenance/upgrades? And the thousands of hours that went into customizing lisp routines? What's that worth? No...on just those two alone over the past 7 years I'm way beyond six figures in total investment. But I've made my money back ten fold so that's why at laugh at ARM, and their hardware that's only good for checking email and playing angry birds in it's current form. I mean, it's gotten so bad that the bloggosphere won't shut up about GTA III...a 10 year old game that dates back to Pentium 3. That really is how far behind they are.

RE: Ugh...
By spread on 1/3/2012 10:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
You can say they're behind when you've seen a desktop chip with enough cores and enough cache. You're comparing a processor that belongs in a calculator to a monstrosity that consumes up to 125W easy. GTAIII barely ran on the Pentium 3 anyways, it barely ran on the Pentium 4 with enough framerate.

Also your software will be worthless in 5 years. Look at software now, does anyone still use AutoCAD from 2006? Nope.

RE: Ugh...
By MarioJP on 1/4/2012 11:53:34 PM , Rating: 2
GTAIII runs fine on Pentium 4. This game is GPU bound not so much of the CPU. Also even though the P4 was a hot cpu It was a darn solid one at that. So stable it was easily overclocked to 3.6Ghz no problems.

The previous poster is right. Too much of the "consumer bubble" is not a good thing.

RE: Ugh...
By MarioJP on 1/4/2012 11:57:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yet I have seen ARM run at those speeds. So in a way x86 is ahead of the game and this was like 10 years ago. What ARM is doing is power saving before performance. Be interesting to see ARM to take on Intel head to head.

RE: Ugh...
By MarioJP on 1/4/2012 11:58:43 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Ugh...
By Fritzr on 1/4/2012 1:10:40 AM , Rating: 2
I originally used AutoCAD on an i386.

AutoDesk maintenance updates and new releases will support whatever the market leader is.

The version of AutoCAD that is $3000 today will be $300 in 5 years
Adobe X will not be available in 5 years ... instead you will be using Adobe XII or XIII by then
Is that MS Office Pro? Regardless of publisher though, what makes you think that they won't support Windows 9 and 10?
Tekla Structures I have not heard of, but I suspect that like AutoDesk they will continue to support whatever high end workstations their users tell them they have.

In short if this were 1990 you'd be saying that Win7 and the I7 were useless because your software would not run on those systems.

You would be quite right to. The 1990 versions of the software were for MSDOS, Windows 3.x and VMS/VAX. No support offered or planned for i7 or Win7.

That changed though when those were released. I suspect there will be more changes when Win8 is discontinued ... or have you been told that you will need to maintain a Win7 legacy system if you want to be using these packages 5 years from now when the current OS and hardware will be obsolete? More likely is that you will be running the updated versions on workstation hardware that is much more powerful than what you have today.

Lisp is a nonissue ... unless AutoDesk changes the language it will run on any OS supported by AutoDesk. It is very likely that 1990 Lisp programs will run on 2011 AutoCAD with minor changes to accommodate changes to AutoCAD. AutoLisp is a scripting language that has no connection to the CPU instruction set.

RE: Ugh...
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2012 6:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
"Death of X86 computing" I think what is going to happen is that ARM will move into light weight computing like netbook/ultrabook for mobile and all in one/nettop for the desk. Intel and to a lesser extent AMD will have the advantage in intensive computing.

RE: Ugh...
By Menoetios on 1/3/2012 6:32:42 PM , Rating: 3
Except that now Microsoft is throwing weight behind ARM with Windows 8 support, and they're arguably the most important software provider of the bunch.

RE: Ugh...
By Roffles on 1/3/2012 6:57:25 PM , Rating: 1
Fact check me here, but apparently Windows8 for ARM will be nothing more than the MetroUI front-end. The traditional operating system in the back is still X86 only. I believe I have read this and this is true.

RE: Ugh...
By Fritzr on 1/3/2012 10:30:56 PM , Rating: 2
No ... stop and think about what you said for a minute. With NO x86 support in an ARM tablet. The x86 code will fail. The ARM port will not include an x86 emulator. The x86 version will include an ARM emulator.

That is the source of a lot of confusion. Win8-ARM will be ARM code only, Win8-x86 will support x86/AMD64 and ARM. Win8-ARM Desktop should be the version offered for netbooks. Can you see the salesman at Best Buy explaining the advantages of keyboard and mouse on a computer lacking a touchscreen and having a touchscreen only OS installed :P

So yes in the beginning Win8-x86 will have a serious advantage. After a few years of legacy x86 code being replaced by 'current' versions targeted at the ARM only market, the advantage of x86 will be much smaller for the average consumer.

For enterprises who coded custom software using chip architecture specific coding the transition will take longer. The ones with better designers will have used mid to high level languages that ignore the chip architecture and define their own programming architecture that is handled by a runtime component that can be customized for whatever chipset offers the best performance this week.

As for the one who has $50000 worth of software and pays $10000 a year for maintenance and updates ... If that annual fee doesn't cover the cost of porting to the ARM version when it is released in a few years then you are paying way too much.

He chose AutoCAD as an example.
AutoDesk has supported multiple chip architectures and sold VMS/VAX and Alpha versions for DEC workstations.

The people at AutoDesk are not stupid. You will find them following the money.

RE: Ugh...
By B3an on 1/4/2012 7:10:50 AM , Rating: 2
You misread what he was saying. He's saying there will be no traditional desktop on ARM Win 8 devices. ARM devices will only have the Metro UI and nothing else. There will be no desktop on them, thats only for x86 devices which will have both Metro and the desktop. Atleast from what i've read, which could just be rumours.

RE: Ugh...
By Iketh on 1/3/2012 7:08:30 PM , Rating: 2
Arguably?? Haha good one

RE: Ugh...
By encia on 1/4/2012 8:45:42 AM , Rating: 2
Windows 7 Server beta Itanium edition says Hi.

Non-X86 WIndows NT is not new.

If Apple would bite it
By ct760ster on 1/3/2012 11:51:34 AM , Rating: 2
That would be the key to success for the ARM architecture on the Desktop and Laptop computer, if Apple swap their base architecture to them like they did from Power-PC to Intel in the past due to the closeness of the various version of Apple *nix OS, reinventing a new product with support of all the software base available now for the existing products wouldn't be too difficult.

RE: If Apple would bite it
By someguy123 on 1/3/2012 5:36:56 PM , Rating: 2
ARM architecture is designed for low power. They don't have any designs that compete with high performance desktop/laptop CPUs. Apple likes to maintain their image as a "premium" brand so it would be doubtful that they would launch a desktop/laptop computer with a relatively low powered cpu, especially since most of their laptop systems rely heavily on CPU processing.

RE: If Apple would bite it
By ct760ster on 1/3/2012 6:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
But remember that the key factor is it's low power consumption, just cluster a couple more of cores altogether and you get the balance between performance and endurance. The key disadvantage of the venerable x86 architecture is it's power draw. For something HP is betting in a new line of server based of ARM. And you have the quintuple core solution from NVIDIA Tegra 3 platform for forerunner.

RE: If Apple would bite it
By someguy123 on 1/3/2012 9:57:01 PM , Rating: 2
The performance on that thing remains to be seen compared to lower count clusters of high performance processors. I suspect that it'll be more useful for multiple VMs rather than pure compute.

The power draw is less of a problem on desktops. It's definitely an issue on laptops, but current intel laptops are workable for productivity/art/editing software. People are more willing to deal with the battery bulk in something like a laptop if there are speed benefits. I'm not sure if even the multicore cortexs can compare to intel's offerings, especially their quad cores.

RE: If Apple would bite it
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2012 6:17:16 PM , Rating: 2
I've heard that apple isn't really huge on building PC's anymore. All of their money is coming from ipads, iphones, and the itunes marketplace.

Plus Manufacturers want to end the Monopoly
By Nexing on 1/3/2012 3:54:49 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, Laptop manufacturers are fed up paying up to 30% of their manufacturing costs to CPU central... AMD? So far, not been able to compete on performance, seems to have been Intel's usable excuse to keep those high CPU prices.

Furthermore Intel twisted business practices surely need to stop. The last example is despite Intel's own strong ultrabook push, that results in

Despite it all, these new releases are going to be obsolete almost at launch, because Intel won't deliver Ivy Bridge to them...
Plus, at the same time, is negating any chance of later upgrading (when mobile Ivys get released), -not because is not technically feasible- but because Intel just says NO...
Of course Intel justifies it 'cause new chipsets do have a few extras forgetting that Ultrabooks and Ivy marry their main advantages from the improved Thermal efficiency, extra battery life and thin-light form factor.
Makers should have Ivy already or the option to switch later, otherwise the 30 to 50 Ubooks released will be obsolete too soon.

RE: Plus Manufacturers want to end the Monopoly
By Iketh on 1/3/2012 7:14:42 PM , Rating: 2

By Fritzr on 1/3/2012 10:36:02 PM , Rating: 2
He's just saying that without the new IB chips the first ultrabooks will be obsolete in 5 months instead of the more usual 6 months :P

RE: Plus Manufacturers want to end the Monopoly
By encia on 1/4/2012 8:43:16 AM , Rating: 2
On laptop, AMD is able to compete on APU performance.

By Nexing on 1/4/2012 10:00:58 AM , Rating: 2
In a few words, PC/Laptop Manufacturers (HP, Acer, Dell, Apple, Lenovo, etc) do have an important say in this. Following user demand, they finally choose which CPU provider or which actual CPU model to include in their products. They also decide if Tablets, Notebooks or Ultrabooks are the form factor of choice to manufacture and market.
In the short term they might have to follow strict sale commands, but they have room for long term actions (think of Apple ecosystem strategies).

@Fritzr. Nope. This early ultrabook wave will be severely obsolete, just when their sales are supposed to start gaining traction (3 months after their launch), when Ivy bridge's 3 to 6 hours of battery life extension becomes mainstream news. This 32 to 22nm jump is not the usual yearly or two year's technology leap, noo, this one is the one that finally allows battery and temperature to go smooth and to match laptops daily usage... This obsolescence matters.


I don't understand
By Strunf on 1/4/2012 11:22:32 AM , Rating: 2
Besides the technical advantages/disadvantages I don't understand why people cheer for ARM, having competition is a good thing how hoping that everyone will turn to ARM help competition? let's not forget there could be 5 ARM chips makers but they all use the proprietary ARM architecture if by some miracle ARM phases out the X86, what would stop ARM from increasing the price for its licenses ??? And what makes you think that TI, Qualcomm and what not would make socket ARM CPUs? compatible ones ?...

I hope Intel will not turn to ARM or that will mean the X86 would be dead.

RE: I don't understand
By Hector2 on 1/6/2012 10:43:56 AM , Rating: 2
Intel had ARM already but sold it off. They bought the StrongARM IP in 1997 from DEC when they were going out of business, then developed it into the XScale architecture. In 2006, after marketing XScale for almost 10 years, they sold it all to Marvell in 2006.

ARM is good for netbooks
By Hector2 on 1/6/2012 10:40:52 AM , Rating: 2
Who knows where we'll all be in 5-10 years, but today ARM will only be good for the netbook segment once Windows 8 supports it. Sure, it'll happen. But it'll be interesting to see how well they perform compared to x86 in head-on competition.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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