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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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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.

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