Feeds

ARM wrestles Intel for netbook crown

Let battle commence

Reducing security risks from open source software

UK chip-design house ARM has announced the development of a pair of dual-core processors intended to go head-to-head with Intel's Atom line in the battle for the hearts and minds of netboook manufacturers.

According to Wednesday's announcement, the two Cortex-A9 MPCore implementations are designed for silicon pumped up to clock rates in excess of 2GHz.

Both implementations are speed-optimized using hard macro IP, meaning that they specify not only the logic elements themselves but also the physical pathways among them, and that they are designed for a specific manufacturing technology.

In this case, that technology is TSMC's 40nm-G (general purpose, as opposed to LP: low power) process, which went into volume production last November.

According to ARM, when compared to Intel's Atom line the new implementation has a lot going for it. "It's head and shoulders above anything Intel can deliver today," ARM VP of marketing Eric Schorn told PC Pro, claiming that it offers five times the performance in the same power envelope as an Atom.

Nicer than Intel

Schorn also said that chips manufactured using the new design will be one-third the size of an Atom processor, saving manufacturing costs, and that ARM - unlike Intel - won't put restrictions such as screen size on hardware the new implementation finds its way into. "We're allowing our diverse partnerships to go and innovate," he said.

Intel has one arrow in its quiver that ARM doesn't: Windows. Although Linux enjoyed solid acceptance in the netbook market when those sub-subnotebooks first appeared, that love has been withdrawn due to Microsoft marketing and users' reluctance to learn a new OS.

Windows, however, is no longer the invincible 800-pound gorilla that it once was. Google's Android is making mobile conquests, and that company's open source Chrome OS - backed by Mountain View's exceptionally deep pockets - will surely chip away at Windows when it makes its appearance next year.

As Google has blogged, "Google Chrome OS will run on both x86 as well as ARM chips and we are working with multiple OEMs to bring a number of netbooks to market next year."

But the core issue in the ARM-Intel dust-up is a long-term one. As today's announcement shows, ARM intends to move out of handhelds and onto your lap. But as Intel CEO Paul Otellini told investors earlier this year, his company is aiming squarely at handhelds.

Referring to small, consumer-focused devices - traditionally ARM-land - Otellini said: "That's what we're aiming at. This is where we think the growth opportunity is for us."

When ARM and Intel meet head-on, don't assume that the bigger company will squash the smaller. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.