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Print 55 comment(s) - last by winterspan.. on Oct 24 at 8:33 PM

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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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 (blog) 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 (blog) 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.


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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