Windows 8 Appears to be Running Happily on ARM CPUs
April 13, 2011 1:44 PM
comment(s) - last by
Surprise! Microsoft's Internet Explorer 10 preview was gracefully running an ARM CPU, unbeknownst to the audience. Microsoft employees let this little secret out later at the conference.
Watch out Intel and AMD, power efficient ARM processors will soon be able to run Windows
At CES 2011, Microsoft Corp. (
) CEO Steve Ballmer showed off an early build of a next generation Windows operating system
running on an ARM architecture CPU
. This week at Microsoft's
MIX Developer Conference
in Las Vegas, the company gave developers a surprise Easter egg -- a
preview build of Internet Explorer 10
and its underlying version of Windows were running on a 1 GHz ARM processor.
Samsung Electronics (
), Texas Instruments Inc. (
), Qualcomm Inc. (
), NVIDIA Corp. (
), and other ARM chipmakers have all been hard at work cooking up power savvy multicore offerings, which would be perfect for a netbook or notebook.
Versus similarly clocked x86 processors from Intel or AMD, ARM processors would likely squeeze out an hour or two of extra battery life. While die shrinks and the ever-rising leakage current may eventually largely negate this advantage, in the short term ARM presents the first compelling consumer alternative to x86 in decades.
Windows 8 is expected to
insert Microsoft's Ribbon UI element
into more locations, including Windows Explorer. It is also expected to have deeper touch integration and tie together the PC version of Windows with the Metro UI that Microsoft developed for the defunct Zune and Windows Phone 7.
But the addition of ARM support is perhaps the most anticipated feature.
While ARM currently offers power advantages, how compelling a buy Windows ARM portables will be still remains to be seen. By offering base Windows support, including access to its Office suite and other enterprise tools, Microsoft makes ARM accessible to the everyday consumer.
But exactly how far Microsoft is able to go with its compatibility efforts remains to be seen. If Microsoft can add ARM support for the Direct X and sound libraries, for example, it would be a relatively trivial exercise for developers to recompile their executables for ARM-architecture Windows 8 computers.
Microsoft makes the
world's most used development environment
, Microsoft Visual Studio. By adding tools to make it quick and easy to switch from x86 to ARM builds, Microsoft could make applications compatibility complaints largely a moot point.
Likewise, if Microsoft can embed an ARM-specific virtual machine in the OS with an x86 emulation layer, it might be possible to run native x86 apps, as is, without recompilation. This would be helpful in cases where a company didn't have the source and the application developer was unresponsive or unwilling to make the change. Implementing the same sort of system to provide ARM emulation in x86 Windows would be even more helpful to ARM, because it would allow developers to effectively target the more efficient ARM architecture, while ignoring x86.
Ultimately the question also still remains how low Intel can price its options and how big the true gap in power efficiency will be. Unlike in the past, Intel may now find its pricing ability hindered by
new international scrutiny
that prevents it from resorting to anti-competitive arrangements to try to stomp out pesky rivals like ARM. But the exact picture is unclear.
Even more unclear is the
fate of Microsoft tablets
. Even if ARM takes off in the notebook space, it may do little to help Microsoft sell Windows tablets, with Apple and Android so deeply entrenched. In that regard, Microsoft may find that it's just given ARM a free ride to major expansion. If that's the case Microsoft's customers should still reap minor gains -- a positive for the company -- but Microsoft itself may not make significant in-roads in its market expansion hopes.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
Other components are bigger energy consumers
4/13/2011 4:03:09 PM
Power consumed by the CPU is getting ever smaller in the overall picture for a notebook. A magnitude of change on that single component won't net you much more battery time.
Lower is always better, but not at the cost of performance. The onus is on ARM to get good enough performance within better power envelopes than what traditional x86 processors manage.
RE: Other components are bigger energy consumers
4/13/2011 5:58:30 PM
Lower is always better, but not at the cost of performance.
True, but then one has to ask how much performance is "enough". Clearly ARM won't be used anytime soon for content creation or CAD rendering or whatever; but how do most people spend most of their time on a computer? Processing 24 megapixel images, or surfing the web?
RE: Other components are bigger energy consumers
4/13/2011 7:01:25 PM
Not quite true:
Collected on the Neo Freerunner but validated on the Nexus One, so still reasonably up to date. The largest power draws were radio, LCD, CPU, and GPU; radios are burst as opposed to constant, meaning if you're doing something that caches or is cached, radios can turn off very quickly. In any case, the CPU used as much power as the LCD, and the RAM/NAND/GPU used as much power as the CPU on a smartphone.
On a tablet of course it would be the LCD that takes the most power, followed by the radio, but CPU and GPU would both be about #3. So really, halving the power use of an Atom processor is kind of significant.
"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
Microsoft Outs Internet Explorer 10 Platform Preview
April 12, 2011, 12:27 PM
Windows 8 Early Build -- Explorer is Built Around Office 2007-like Ribbon
April 5, 2011, 12:03 PM
ARM's Tudor Brown says Microsoft Needs ARM to Grow in Tablet Market
January 7, 2011, 11:14 AM
Microsoft's Ballmer: ARM? There's a Windows PC OS for That
January 6, 2011, 1:30 AM
FTC, Intel Reach Settlement; Intel Banned From Anticompetitive Practices
August 4, 2010, 1:45 PM
Cortana, Xbox App, OneDrive Apps/Settings Backup Added to Windows 10 Build
December 15, 2014, 3:43 PM
Quick Note: Windows Phone Finally Gets Candy Crush Saga
December 13, 2014, 2:03 PM
Next Windows 10 Test Build Likely to Land on Jan. 21, Press Event Announced
December 11, 2014, 5:49 PM
New FourSquare App Hits Windows Store, WinPhone Gets Official Minecraft App
December 10, 2014, 2:15 PM
RIP, Microsoft Clip Art (1993 to 2014), You'll be Missed (Sort of)
December 3, 2014, 3:54 PM
Quick Note: Monday is Last Day for Half Off (or More) Square Enix Games
December 1, 2014, 5:30 AM
Most Popular Articles
Android-Powered BLU Studio 7.0 Claims to be the "World's Largest Smartphone"
December 19, 2014, 2:40 PM
Paramount Bans Team America Screenings, Cowers Submissively to North Korea
December 18, 2014, 10:26 PM
Miyamoto: Nintendo is Prepping Successor to Troubled Wii U
December 22, 2014, 6:28 PM
Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Drops to $299 (30 Percent Off) for a Day
December 22, 2014, 10:57 AM
News Corp's Fox is Terrified of North Korea, Kills Upcoming Steve Carell Film
December 18, 2014, 4:09 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information