Print 88 comment(s) - last by encia.. on Jan 10 at 9:10 PM

Microsoft seems to be getting fed up with Intel's inability to deliver notebook hardware.

It's offical! An "upcoming version" of Windows will support ARM, a rival architecture to Intel's x86.

Qualcomm, NVIDIA, and Texas Instruments were the key ARM CPU makers who received a nod in Microsoft's presentation.

Microsoft's future hardware showcase included three ARM designs and only one Intel Atom-based design -- perhaps a signal of the changing of the guard.
Microsoft makes ARM support official; Intel surely is regretting parting with its ARM unit

Is this the siren song for the x86 architecture and its great bastion, Intel?  It's hard to say for sure, but Microsoft's official announcement that it was supporting a more efficient rival architecture -- ARM -- certainly was met with little joy in Santa Clara.

At the show Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off a series of development systems running a "next generation version of Windows", which supported ARM.  Microsoft layered Windows 7's graphical user interface on top of new OS to show just how smoothly an ARM powered Windows system could run.

In total Microsoft showed off three different ARM development systems, with a system-on-a-chip design from Qualcomm (SnapDragon), Texas Instruments (OMAP), and NVIDIA (Tegra 2).  Mr. Ballmer did not officially announce when we might expect to see these Windows ARM systems, but it might be sooner than you think.

Microsoft has grown increasingly impatient with long-time partner Intel, who manufacturers somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of the world's computer CPUs.  Intel was being badly beaten in the fight for smartphone and tablet dominance -- or more aptly it never showed up, because it knew it was a fight that it couldn't win.

Microsoft had already long since gone with ARM processors in the ultra-power dependent smartphone industry.  But in the tablet sector it sat by and watched in pain as Apple and Google unloaded ARM based designs by the millions.  There were no Windows 7 tablets because Intel was unable to provide it hardware.

Unwilling to see its hopes anchored to what may be a sinking ship, Microsoft made the tough decision to jump onboard the ARM train, a serious vote of no-confidence for x86.  The message seemed clear -- Intel's promises of Atom-based Windows 7 tablets were welcome, but Microsoft sure wasn't waiting around for their release.

As ARM suppliers gains momentum they are hungrily eyeing the netbook, notebook, and PC markets.  Already we're seeing dual-core ARM CPUs show up in smartphones, and there's talk of eight-core ARM CPUs clocked as high as 2 GHz being delivered within a generation or two.  So is Intel's CPU (and to a lesser extent those of AMD) destined for a slow ride into the sunset, replaced by NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Samsung chips? 

It's harder to say.  ARM's great hope is that it can parlay its sizable lead in power efficiency over x86 into market dominance.  ARM features a reduced-instruction set, versus Intel's cluttered instruction catalog.  And it has more integers registers, which eliminates the expensive process of renaming registers.  The net result of both of these architectural differences is that ARM can perform the same computation using less power.

And yet Intel could still pull out a victory.  As circuits have shrunk, leakage of current from the capacitors inside transistors has become a major issue.  In today's generation of ARM and x86 CPUs, leakage can account for as much as 40 percent of the power consumption of a chip.  As leakage becomes more important, process technologies may become more important, while subtle architectural advantages become more trivial.

Thus if Intel can hold on, it may stand a shot, thanks to its tireless advances in the field of process technology, which include "high-K dielectrics" -- special capacitor materials that combat leakage.  

On the other hand, developing processes is an expensive business, and if ARM begins a successful campaign into the personal computing market, it may starve Intel of the capital it needs to survive.

One thing is for sure -- for now consumers have compelling cause to buy ARM OS tablets, netbooks, and notebooks, a cause Microsoft has recognized and addressed.  Intel can only hope to weather the storm.

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By William Gaatjes on 1/6/2011 5:48:49 AM , Rating: 2
If the agreements between Intel and AMD permits it, expect AMD to come up with ARM chips as well. Either under the AMD brand or the AMD foundry will be making a lot of ARM soc maybe combined with gpu designs from AMD for third parties. The only thing that might help x86 is the increase of registers because of AMD64, but even then ARM is designed from the ground up and does not has to carry around a lot of legacy. However, everything will change if Intel and AMD have the chance to drop all old legacy instructions and create 16 register x86 cpu without the legacy instructions. And i think Intel and AMD will go that way because of the integration of the GPU. The GPU will be able to do certain mathematical tasks better then the FPU or SSE AVX on the CPU. Expect AVX and SSE to be migrated into the GPU. The biggest problem is the x86 instruction set. If INtel and AMD will be able to reduce it, expect ARM to work very hard. Because then the difference between ARM architecture and the x86 architecture will be minimal.

By Da W on 1/6/11, Rating: 0
By tastyratz on 1/6/11, Rating: -1
By Da W on 1/6/2011 11:14:57 AM , Rating: 3
x64 is an extention of x86 to maintain backward compatibility and NOT an entirely new instruction set written from scratch. That was Itanium and we all know where it went.

I reiterate my LOL.

By encia on 1/6/2011 7:19:09 AM , Rating: 2

Notice how small is AMD Bobcat's X86 decoders.

By Samus on 1/6/11, Rating: -1
By Samus on 1/6/11, Rating: -1
By Shadowmaster625 on 1/6/2011 10:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
You obviously dont know what you're talking about. Yes intel has finally caught up to where ati and nvidia were 5 years ago with sandy bridge, but keep in mind there is a serious power consumption cost there. Not to mention the chips are hella expensive. Atom is not. Whatever gpu they put in atom is highly likely to be junk because intel can barely do graphics, let alone low power graphics. That has not changed with sandy bridge.

By Wiggy Mcshades on 1/6/11, Rating: 0
By encia on 1/7/2011 2:09:39 PM , Rating: 1
AMD Enhanced BobCat 28nm says Hi

By encia on 1/7/2011 2:23:39 PM , Rating: 1
On TSMC issue, AMD's 28nm GoFlo says hi.

By Cheesew1z69 on 1/6/2011 8:56:05 AM , Rating: 1
You have no clue what is going happen....

By EnoYls on 1/6/2011 9:31:14 AM , Rating: 1
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means...

By Taft12 on 1/6/2011 11:00:54 AM , Rating: 3
it stinks of AMD fan boi and moron in here ... i'll bet $10,000 dollars cash AMD seizes to

This irony is too delicious for words. Lets just say I think we've isolated where the stink is coming from.

By RedemptionAD on 1/6/2011 11:51:27 AM , Rating: 1
I am personally looking to purchase AMD and fund their turn around. I am the ability to do so and will see to it you are proven wrong, now where's my $10000?

By JHBoricua on 1/6/2011 2:14:11 PM , Rating: 1
AMD no longer manufactures CPUs. They sold all of their Fabs. Can I get my money now?

By encia on 1/6/2011 3:03:21 PM , Rating: 2
AMD still has the controlling stake at GoFlo. Can I get my money now?

By JHBoricua on 1/7/2011 3:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Which is completely irrelevant. The fact still remains that the entity known as AMD no longer MANUFACTURES CPUs.

By encia on 1/10/2011 8:54:56 PM , Rating: 2
Your statement completely irrelevant since ARM is also fabless company.

By Flunk on 1/6/2011 9:21:47 AM , Rating: 2
AMD already sells a couple of ARM based SoCs for embedded applications.

By Wiggy Mcshades on 1/6/2011 11:16:00 AM , Rating: 1
SSE and AVX couldn't be put onto the gpu, they are extended Instructions for an x86 pipeline. You would mutilate a gpu's performance by trying to implement them. As a gpu existed it already does was SSE and AVX offer from a conceptual standpoint. The reason SSE is used as apposed to the gpu is the difference in the overhead required. The CPU is likely to get more improved AVX like extensions allowing it to do what a basic gpu does, not the other way around. the CPU is the one that will stay and the gpu is what is going to be consumed. Even if AMD is touting this as the erra of "APU"s there is no amount of marketing that can change the fact that OpenCL has way too much overhead to be worthwhile on a low end gpu and that not alot of situations exist in which extensive parallel processing or vectorization are possible

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