Amid Abysmal Sales, ARM Chipmaker Qualcomm Has Windows RT's Back
May 6, 2013 2:17 PM
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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs
Despite failure of Microsoft's ARM offerings, Qualcomm says better sales await
Acer President Jim Wong said in a recent discussion that while his company has "ongoing" plans for a future ARM-based Windows tablet, "There's no value doing the current version of RT."
The frank snub of Windows on ARM (officially, Windows RT) might seem overly harsh, were it not for the
cold hard sales numbers
market research firm International Data Corp. (
), sales of Windows RT tablets -- including Microsoft's own flagship "Surface RT" product -- tanked to a total of 200,000 in Q1 2013. That's a mere 0.4 percent of the 49.2 million tablets that shipped in Q1.
But Luis Pineda, senior vice president of product management at Qualcomm, Inc. (
top ARM system-on-a-chip (SoC) maker
is firing back, saying
poor initial sales
are not indicative of Windows RT's long term prospects. He
We're very excited about Microsoft's strategy around Windows RT. We're very optimistic with the future of Win RT and we see continued success.
Windows RT launched on devices from major manufacturers last October and used Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Qualcomm is working with many more OEM's to launch on Win RT in the future and has a long-term investment in it.
We're not discouraged. Whenever you launch a brand new ecosystem like Windows RT it would be nice to have a home run from day one. But there's lots of excitement about what's coming.
Qualcomm is standing behind embattled Windows RT. [Image Source: Microsoft]
Microsoft Corp. (
) is reportedly unhappy with the struggles of its new operating system. Those struggles can largely be traced back to two factors -- lack of legacy compatibility with old x86 apps on ARM devices and poor marketing of this new type of Windows devices.
Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) executives have focused on the latter point -- poor marketing -- as derailing a promising product. In January Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd.'s (
) North American market PC and tablet SVP, Mike Abary
attacked Microsoft's poor consumer education efforts
There wasn't really a very clear positioning of what Windows RT meant in the marketplace, what it stood for relative to Windows 8, that was being done in an effective manner to the consumer. When we did some tests and studies on how we could go to market with a Windows RT device, we determined there was a lot of heavy lifting we still needed to do to educate the customer on what Windows RT was. And that heavy lifting was going to require pretty heavy investment. When we added those two things up, the investments necessary to educate the consumer on the difference between RT and Windows 8, plus the modest feedback that we got regarding how successful could this be at retail from our retail partners, we decided maybe we ought to wait.
He said that his company would not be shipping the Windows RT-powered Ativ Tab tablet to U.S. shores anytime soon, concluding, "We want to see how the market develops for RT. It's not something we're shelving permanently. It's still a viable option for us in the future, but now might not be the right time."
Other executives have recently been laying it on the embattled OS. Neil Hand, head of Dell Inc.'s (
) tablet and high-end PC business,
, "Demand is not where I would like it to be at this point in time. The amount of market information about it is not good enough, and the market sentiment is still pretty negative."
The world's fastest growing OEM, Lenovo Group, Ltd. (
) has attacked its business appeal. Lenovo Think PC and visual category manager Simon Kent
, commenting, "We don't believe that Windows RT is what businesses want. This is particularly true for a premium product such as Helix, which gives you the performance and capability of a full Ultrabook as well as a business tablet. Even Microsoft has started to review the RT path they have gone down."
Dell and others have also attacked the quality of Windows ARM apps. There are currently around 65,000 ARM-compatible apps in The Windows Store.
Qualcomm suggests Windows RT is the ultimate consumer experience.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]
Qualcomm VP Pineda insists that Windows RT is a superior experience. He points to the
, which uses are 1.2 GHz Snapdragon 8060A processor. He remarks, "This is the ideal machine for me. It gives me 20 hours of battery and runs more than a day, and is thinner and has no fan and provides 4G LTE access. It has all the software I need."
refused to quit
the struggling operating system, believing it to be
a key to future success.
The next release is expected to come later this year with Windows 8.1 (codenamed: "Blue").
Qualcomm via CNET
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5/6/2013 3:19:01 PM
Atom might not seem like much on the x86 side but compared to ARM Im betting the next Atom delivers quite a punch.
They are outlining the new Atom right now.
Silvermont doubles the single-threaded performance of its Saltwell predecessor at the same power level, and that dual-core variants have
lower peak power draw and higher performance than quad-core ARM SoCs.
Atom might have just become an alternative to ARM and Intel also said we can expect to see x86 Surface Pro tablets for cheap soon. June Microsoft announces a smaller tablet.
5/7/2013 7:07:59 AM
Intel and commentators have been saying that for at least two generations, and Atom processors are still slow and power hungry.
Intel is trying to compensate by shrinking their die faster than ARM, the same strategy that beat AMD. But unfortunately for intel, the ARM IS is RISC so x86 designs are always going to be slower and more power hungry, no matter how much intel shrinks the die.
And that's not to mention the fact that companies like Samsung can fab their own chips based on ARM designs much more cost effectively than buying them from intel.
5/7/2013 8:24:01 AM
lmfao, This is not a bet you want to take. If there's anything x86 is NOT, it's
. When Atom was first built out, ARM was not a target. Every Atom since then has been the same architecture. That's why everyone's all excited about Silvermont.
5/7/2013 9:16:56 AM
Clovertrail uses years old, intentionally crippled architecture on 32nm and it still matches (or even beats) ARM in perf/W.
RISC vs x86 is a meaningless argument. It's only responsible for a few percent of total power, and more than made up for by Intel's other architectural IP. The process advantage is just a bonus.
And yes, Atom was intentionally made slow in the past. They didn't want to cannibalize Core 2 or i3 sales, so they made is just fast enough to keep AMD/Via from taking over the low end market.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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