Feeds

Intel PC hegemony facing ARMy attack

ARM set for '13% share by 2015'

Intelligent flash storage arrays

ARM-based processors will bite off a significant chunk of Intel's PC hegemony in the next few years, achieving a 13 per cent share of the PC-processor market by 2015.

That's one conclusion of "Worldwide PC Microprocessor 1Q11 Vendor Shares", an IDC report released Thursday.

Notice that IDC's report focuses on PC processors – not merely processors in general. It doesn't take into account all those ARM-based processors that are already powering tablets and smartphones.

"While media tablets are a competitive factor at the system level because of competition for share of consumer wallets vs PCs," the report's author, Shane Rau, told The Reg in an email exchange. "Media tablets are not PCs in IDC's taxonomy, and the processors inside them are not PC processors. I define a PC processor by the design intent of the manufacturer."

And IDC sees that design intent of ARM-based processor manufacturers aimed squarely at Intel's turf – just as AMD, newly revitalized with its Fusion line of accelerated processing units (APUs), is aiming to grab a larger stake in the PC-processor marketplace.

ARM-processor manufacturers are starting small in their PC ambition. As Rau told us, "While there are some ARM-based netbooks (which are called mini-notebooks in IDC's taxonomy and are part of the PC taxonomy), the volumes are very small."

We asked Rau whether Microsoft's plan to port Windows 8 to ARM was a major reason for his projection of a 13 per cent ARM PC-processor market share in a mere four years, he agreed. "Yes," he answered. "Windows 8 moving to ARM is the major assumption in the long-term forecast for ARM in PCs. As Nvidia, Qualcomm, and TI announced at CES, they'll support Windows 8 with ARM-based SoCs, so that's a clear sign of intent to design for PCs and so the market direction."

Rau's "yes", however, was followed by a big ol' "but". "Other factors include ARM architectures that support PC functionality (with features like 64-bit processing, 64-bit memory addressing, high-speed interfaces, and large caches) and PC applications coming from ISVs," he cautioned. "If any major part of the necessary ecosystem for PCs falters, then ARM in PCs will falter. This is a long-term roadmap."

In other words, yes, Intel does face a challenge from the lower-power end of the PC-processor market, but a lot of independent ducks must line up in their correct rows for Chipzilla to feel major pain.

What's more, Wednesday's announcement of Intel's "tri-gate" 22nm processors may portend a better power/performance future for a company that has been late to the low-power, high-performance game.

That said, as Intel moves down the power ladder, ARM-based processors such as Nvidia's quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 Kal-el are moving up the performance rungs. And then there are those muscular ARM Cortex-A15 parts scheduled for late 2012 or early 2013.

Thing haven't been so much fun in the world of PC processors since Motorola/IBM/Freescale's PowerPC dropped out of the mêlée some years back. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Apple spent just ONE DOLLAR beefing up the latest iPad Air 2
New iPads look a lot like the old one. There's a reason for that
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US
Wearable will deliver 'actionable insights for healthier living'
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
Amazon hopes FIRE STICK will light up its video service
We do streaming video? It seems we do...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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.
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.
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.