Feeds

ARM wrestles Intel for netbook crown

Let battle commence

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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Linux enjoyed solid acceptance in the netbook market when those sub-subnotebooks first appeared, that love has been withdrawn due to Microsoft marketing and users' reluctance to learn a new OS.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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Heyyy! NICE e-bracelet you've got there ... SHAME if someone were to SUBPOENA it
Court pops open cans of worms and whup-ass in Fitbit case
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
The IT Crowd's internet in a box gets $240k of crowdcash for a cause
'Outernet' project proposes satellite-fuelled 'Lantern' WiFi library for remote areas
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.