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ARM Stealthily Rising As a Low-End Contender

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the raising-an-arm dept.

Portables 285

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Neil McAllister examines how the ongoing rise of netbooks, decline of desktops, and the smartphone explosion are reconfiguring the processor market, putting Intel's Atom processor on a clear collision course with ARM. And here, on the low end of computing, Intel may have finally met its match. Thanks to a unique licensing model, ARM will ship an estimated 90 chips per second this year, and the catalog of OSes and apps available for ARM has been growing for decades, including several complete Linux distributions such as Google's Android OS and Chrome OS when it ships. 'One thing ARM doesn't have, however, is Windows,' McAllister writes, something that could ultimately stymie ARM's plans to compete on the low end of the netbook market. And yet Intel's bet on Windows and its x86 compatibility appeal among developers could backfire, McAllister writes. In the end, it's all about performance. Thus far, Intel has yet to demonstrate a model with power characteristics comparable to those of the current generation of ARM chips, which are fast proving their ability to handle high-performance applications."

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285 comments

Competition (5, Funny)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902575)

Still, competitors claim it's mostly 'armless.

Re:Competition (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902853)

That's funny, tee hee so cleverly funny. I got a funny too!

Did you hear they're improving the transportation in Harlem? Yeah, they're planting the trees closer together!

I Must be Getting Old (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902587)

"ARM"

The first thing I thought of was "Adjustable Rate Mortgage.

Re:I Must be Getting Old (1, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902693)

As it happens, that would have been a perfectly cogent headline a few years back, had we been bothering to pay attention.

ARM/Linux in the Tesla Roadster (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902595)

To tie in with an earlier article on the front page: the Tesla Roadster's battery pack management system is ARM-based. It's built around a Philips-LPC2294 with 32 megs of ram and a 1GB U3 Cruzer Micro USB flash drive, running Linux kernel 2.6.11.8-1.3.0.

Re:ARM/Linux in the Tesla Roadster (3, Interesting)

mollog (841386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903585)

The article says that a port of Windows could be important to the future of ARM, and that Microsoft has no plans to do such a port. (Does anybody remember when Windows NT was supposed to be ported to DEC alpha, HP PA-RISC, and IBM PowerPC?). But why, exactly, does a consumer want Windows? For Excel? Word?

Seems like Linux will fill the bill with a browser, maybe a PostScript app and a media player. Text editing isn't such an elaborate thing these days. And only a few people even know what to do with Excel.

Sounds like ARM is to Intel the way that Linux is to Microsoft; a threat coming from the low-end.

Speaking of apps, seems like iPhone and the like are coming up with apps that don't run on Windows. Do we really need, or even want, Windows any more?

So, what we need is a netbook with ARM, running Linux, to serve as a model for future application development.

Re:ARM/Linux in the Tesla Roadster (2, Insightful)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903787)

The three biggest reasons I can think of for using Windows are:
  • Drivers - Presumably anyone selling a netbook with Linux on it would go to the trouble of writing drivers
  • Games - As if you could play games on a netbook..
  • Photshop - Same as above

MAME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902617)

Just release MAME for a popular ARM motherboard.

Re:MAME on ARM in Debian (3, Informative)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902813)

http://packages.debian.org/lenny/arm/xmame-sdl/download [debian.org]

I've run Debian ARM distro on an NSLU2. Works great.

Re:MAME on ARM in Debian (5, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903121)

My SheevaPlug [marvell.com] arrives via Fedex in about 30 minutes :).

It's going to be like Christmas in a few hours. The Fedex box will be ripped apart strewn across the living room as will be the product packaging. I'll plug it straight into the wall and Ethernet, realize it doesn't do much. Break out the 8GB SD card and not sleep tonight.

Re:MAME on ARM in Debian (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903151)

how much did it cost you? been looking at getting one myself.

Re:MAME on ARM in Debian (3, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903259)

$99 + $17 shipping, no tax. There's only 1 supplier in the US at the moment.

And for slashdotters, the devkit is MUCH better than PogoPlug or other 'final' products.

USB -> JTAG adapter. If you fubar it, you should be able to unfubar it.
SD Slot: 8GB card will act as the boot drive. Saving wear on the internal 512MB memory and allowing me to add a ton of other stuff.

I plan on it being my IRC, AIM, Torrent, Usenet, XBMC Serving, HVAC Controlling, 1-Wire Weather Sensing, 5W (max) box.

For kicks I'll probably do some mencoder benchmarks.

FYI: http://computingplugs.com/ [computingplugs.com] is hosted on a Plug. It survived the last Slashdotting. The guy was using it to stream a TV show and it was still only using 40% CPU. He only unplugged it when he didn't know he was getting slashdotted and thought it was acting weird.

Re:MAME on ARM in Debian (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903593)

decent price, nice bonus with the jtag adapter too, I still have a ghetto one I made for parallel port when I was playing with cpld's.

Re:MAME on ARM in Debian (3, Funny)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903295)

My SheevaPlug [marvell.com] arrives via Fedex in about 30 minutes :).

how much did it cost you? been looking at getting one myself.

Well, if he doesn't answer in the next 17 minutes, we know we're not gonna hear anything for a few days....

So, where are ARM netbooks? (3, Interesting)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902647)

I am yet to see any. If they only at least produced one for each article declaring ARM ubiquitous winner at low-end netbooks....

Re:So, where are ARM netbooks? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902699)

This is from the "vaporware = product" crowd that get excited just because something has been announced or might be available in Akihabra.

It may or may not be real in 6 months.

Re:So, where are ARM netbooks? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902705)

http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/

Re:So, where are ARM netbooks? (0, Offtopic)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902749)

"I have yet to see any." Then you are not looking. It seems last year there were many. It seems there are fewer this year but still.

An example -

Go to www.dell.com
Select "for home"
select "laptop/notebook"
select "OS Ubuntu"

Tada :

http://www1.ca.dell.com/ca/en/home/Laptops/laptop-inspiron-10/pd.aspx?refid=laptop-inspiron-10&s=dhs&cs=cadhs1&~oid=ca~en~70702~inspnnb_10vu_en_feat_1~~

Re: was wrong thats Atom not Arm (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902787)

Ok I was wrong there that was an Atom not an ARM notebook.

This is ARM
http://armnews.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/dell-announce-notebook-with-arm-processor/

stealthily? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902763)

Far too stealthily for my taste! Let's get lots of netbooks/notebooks with ARM so we have some choice!

Re:stealthily? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903209)

Far too stealthily for my taste! Let's get lots of netbooks/notebooks with ARM so we have some choice!

Yes, a processor architecture guaranteed by the second amendment to the US constitution. You can't take my netbook away from me, no sir, you can pry it away from my cold dead hands.

(Uh, can I get a rez please?)

Re:So, where are ARM netbooks? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902781)

There are a few things; but mostly obscure or dubiously suitable. The Touchbook (not toughbook) still has a touch of beta about it; but you can actually order one. The Sharp PC-Z1 has a bad case of obscure and japanese; but otherwise exists. You can also get a number of super cheap ARM based netbooks from various random Chinese outfits. Trouble is, most of those are basically the WinCE PDAs of a couple of years back, stuck into a netbook shell. Truly dire specs are the order of the day.

I'm frankly a bit surprised. You can get beagleboards and shivaplugs, with pretty credible ARM based specs, for not all that much even in small quantities, and ARM based smartphones are all over the place, so the field seems surprisingly thin on the netbook side.

Re:So, where are ARM netbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902899)

A4, 1992 [chriswhy.co.uk] . Newfag.

Re:So, where are ARM netbooks? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902923)

You can roll your own with with a beagle board or gumstix plus a lot of hard hacking. Unfortunately the economies of scale mean you won't save any money, you would end up spending something like $500 to $700 plus a few weekends of research and work to put something together that would have about half the power of a standard netbook (possibly with the exception of hardware accelerated video thanks to the secondary features of the OMAP 3530 system on a chip).

The next year or so should see more powerful ARM chips on the market.

Re:So, where are ARM netbooks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903011)

So which will we see first: ARM netbooks or the year of Linux on the desktop? My prediction: neither.

Fast is not always best (3, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902679)

The fastest processor is not always the best for all applications. Certainly most desktops these days have more than enough power for those that browse the web. So why not save the cost of the big overpowered processor (and the big overpowered OS) where possible.

And in embedded designs the fastest processor is almost always an overdesign. All those kiosks for cash machines, ticket sales and cash registers do not need the latest fast processors. The do fine with a slower processors.

There is certainly a big market for an OS that does not tax the processor and is able to provide the minimal OS functionality dedicate application devices need.

Re:Fast is not always best (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902719)

I have a feeling the processor itself is not all that expensive in most "browse the web" computers. If ARM or some other processor is to make inroads it will have to be in the power department. A more efficient processor means a cheaper, lighter laptops with smaller batteries.

Re:Fast is not always best (2, Insightful)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902965)

A more efficient processor means the same laptop, with massively better longevity

Well, that's what I'm looking for anyway...

Re:Fast is not always best (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903423)

A more efficient processor means the same laptop, with massively better longevity

That too :)

Re:Fast is not always best (1)

mccrew (62494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903679)

Actually, it's the screen that is the biggest drain on the battery. A more efficient processor will help with battery longevity, I'm just skeptical about the use of the word "massively."

Re:Fast is not always best (2, Interesting)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903825)

You're right that the screen is the biggest drain on power... on my laptop, it accounts for about 40-50% of the juice that the system uses. Most of that comes from the backlight... in fact, battery life goes up by almost an hour by turning the backlight down to respectable levels. The system in question gets very good battery life, though... it's a 15.4" display @ 1680x1050, with a GeForce 8600M GT 256MB. 4GB of RAM, T5450 processor, 120GB 7200rpm hard drive, running Windows 7 (RTM version, from MSDN). I was able to stay online for 3h during a power failure while raiding in WoW... ventrilo, wireless network (UPS to keep home server up), and all. (it's a Dell Inspiron 1520 with the 9-cell "high capacity" battery)

But if I can get that kind of battery life out of a system that's drawing its maximum, what do you suppose would happen to the battery life if I were to swap out the 25W Centrino processor with a 2W ARM? Ok, it probably wouldn't be powerful enough to run WoW, but for something like word processing/web surfing, and a few other power efficiency changes (video card, display resolution/brightness, hard drive for SSD), we could be building laptops with a full size keyboard and screen that's big enough to do actual *work* on that can pull off 8h on a charge.

Re:Fast is not always best (2, Insightful)

gedrin (1423917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902831)

I'd agree with this. Processors only have to be fast enough that human beings don't notice the time it takes for the processor to do its work.

Re:Fast is not always best (1)

jointm1k (591234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903107)

Unfortunately, the processing time that humans are able to discern is divided by two, approximately every two years. So you will need the speed of faster processors -anyway- at one point in the future.

Re:Fast is not always best (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903227)

don't know about you, but for me VI on a p3 450 from 1999 goes faster than the blink of an eye when editing text, no waiting for it at all.

For a given usage people don't need faster computers.. (ok except 3d rendering and other infinite processing time things) it's just the usage patterns change and developers misusing abundant resources (flash web pages that make core2duos crawl anyone?)

It's JVC's VHS-C versus Sony's Video8 again (-1, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902689)

One thing ARM doesn't have, however, is Windows,' McAllister writes

VHS-C was compatible with people's home machines, so you could use your camcorder to tape family or vacations, and then just pop it into your VHS VCR to watch it on the big screen TV. With Sony's Video8 that wasn't possible, so VHS-C quickly dominated the camcorder market.

I expect the same thing to happen in netbooks - People have Windows on their PCs (both home and work). They'll want to have Windows on their netbooks too, so they can move their docs or applications back-and-forth easily. So Intel/Windows will eventually come to dominate.

Re:It's JVC's VHS-C versus Sony's Video8 again (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902817)

That really depends I think on how netbooks mature.
Is a netbook a small weak notebook or a big iPod Touch?
Take a look as the WindowsMobile vs iPhone battle.
WIndowsMobile had years of time in the market before the iPhone and it had a lot more applications than the iPhone. The iPhone blew it out of the water in just a few short years.
If the ARM baised netbook folks get their act together then yes Arm could move up into the netbook area. From there it could move up into the Notebook and even Desktop space.
You may think that could never happen but the X86 went from a toy to push up into the workstation and server market. You even have some X86 style systems pushing well into the Mini/Mainframe area.
Windows and X86 has done so well because it is cheap and fast enough.
Now ARM is heading into cheap and fast enough.

Re:It's JVC's VHS-C versus Sony's Video8 again (4, Insightful)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903141)

WIndowsMobile had years of time in the market before the iPhone and it had a lot more applications than the iPhone. The iPhone blew it out of the water in just a few short years.

Let me preface this with a disclaimer. I never really liked WinMo, and I can't wait till I can buy a cheap, fast ARM netbook to run linux on!

However, WinMo did not come about in the era of ubiquitous high-speed internet and wifi, large hosted storage and applications ('cloud' crap). I used to own an HP Jornada 320lx (precursor to netbook- a palmtop)

WinMo however sucked because of poor app compatibility. The portable versions of word and excel were pretty useless. Nobody uses these types of apps regularly on an iPhone. The iPhone is largely (but not solely) a toy used for music, video playback (youtube) and web browsing. When WinMo was relevant, processing power and internet availability were not up to it, and so the only people buying it were using it primarily for Calendaring, Portable Office, and the like, and it wasn't all that great at it, as I mentioned before. As such, the usability, simplicity and broad appeal of the iPhone is simply not there.

The scene is very different, it is hard to say just what will happen.

Re:It's JVC's VHS-C versus Sony's Video8 again (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902841)

It didn't monopolise the market though, and may not have done so well had it not had other advantages (i.e. it was cheap). Camcorders had phono composite connectors so it wasn't that hard to convert other formats to VHS.

Similarly, all people really want is to be able to transfer documents seamlessly. They don't care so much if different applications run on different machines. You can already get Windows CE on ARM, and MS would have no objection to producing a Word compatible word processor for CE if demand was sufficient.

Re:It's JVC's VHS-C versus Sony's Video8 again (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903005)

docs especially, but even apps don't have to be difficult to move back and forth. JPEGs, .doc/docx/odf are architecture independent. Java/.Net and fat binaries exist for apps, as well as cross compilation. Any good OS would provide all of this.

Re:It's JVC's VHS-C versus Sony's Video8 again (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903671)

VHS-C was compatible with people's home machines, so you could use your camcorder to tape family or vacations, and then just pop it into your VHS VCR to watch it on the big screen TV. With Sony's Video8 that wasn't possible, so VHS-C quickly dominated the camcorder market.

Be careful about assuming causation here. It might have easily been that VHS-C sounded familiar to people who had VHS, and they went with what they knew. Video8 might have been just as successful if the names had simply been reversed.

Windows missing ARM (5, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902701)

'One thing ARM doesn't have, however, is Windows,' McAllister writes, something that could ultimately stymie ARM's plans to compete on the low end of the netbook market.

In my opinion, it's the opposite. One thing Windows doesn't have is ARM support (besides Windows CE). Manufacturers are already seeing the advantage of ARM, and the lack of Windows support isn't a deal breaker in every segment. I have a SheevaPlug which is an ARM device, and while most major Linux distributions have support for the architecture, Microsoft just has the one, and it isn't even a consideration for most users of the device.

Windows on low-end? (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902709)

'One thing ARM doesn't have, however, is Windows,'

Who wants windows running on low-end computers anyway? You'd be waiting minutes for your web-pages to load.

Ubuntu has the arm stuff working now, so I want a laptop to install it on. It would keep me from lugging around a big notebook.

It's interesting they don't talk about the palm pre with armel-linux.

I've rooted my pre and I can run stuff like ssh or telnet from it, but it would be cool to have something with a larger screen and a keyboard.

Re:Windows on low-end? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902961)

I think the idea is that Windows on Atom in Netbooks is already popular. A more powerful, efficient processor exists, but Windows cannot be used on ARM (currently).

Who wants windows running on low-end computers anyway? You'd be waiting minutes for your web-pages to load.

If thats the case, you'd be waiting even longer on the slower Atom. Whats wrong with people wanting more power?

Re:Windows on low-end? (1, Informative)

AaronW (33736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903147)

I actually upgraded from XP Home to Windows 7 Ultimate on my HP Mini Netbook (using an Atom N270). I was very pleasantly surprised at how well it runs. It actually feels smoother than XP and is generally quite usable, even with the slow 60GB hard drive. Then again, I also have 2GB of RAM installed, but the memory usage only went up maybe 100MB. Note that I am a Linux junkie and all of my other computers run Linux.

Gadgets not laptops (0, Redundant)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902711)

The problem with ARM is that it will perpetually be in the "gadget" category until it can run some "real" OSes. Yes, there is Linux but on popular Linux distros aimed for the general public (such as Ubuntu) ARM is only slightly supported and is still very much a "second class" port compared to the x86 and x86-64 versions. But really what will kill it is more "innovative" UIs for lower-end laptops don't look like "real" computers in the eyes of the consumer. If it looks like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ubuntu_netbook_remix_9.04.png [wikipedia.org] it is a gadget, compared to if it looks likehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Windows_XP_SP3.png , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Snow_Leopard_Desktop.png [wikipedia.org] or even http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gnome-2.28.png [wikipedia.org]

The Debian Distro Says Otherwise (4, Informative)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902871)

http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/ [debian.org]

I've run it on an NSLU2. Worked perfectly. They've got desktop packages for it an everything.

Ubuntu is has been standing on the shoulders of giants (Debian) for a long time. It's time for you to go straight to the source.

But why do you want a laptop? (2, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902979)

But really what will kill it is more "innovative" UIs for lower-end laptops don't look like "real" computers in the eyes of the consumer.

No, they look like smartphones on steroids. And as these lower-end units will basically be just that - with 3 and 3.5G, phone connectivity, GPS, Bluetooth and wireless, and connecting seamlessly to the back at the ranch desktop - they will be seen as a step up from phones, not down from laptops.

I'll take three, thanks (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902717)

" 'One thing ARM doesn't have, however, is Windows,' McAllister writes"

I'm sold.

Almost 3 billion chips this year? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902729)

90*60*60*24*365= about 2.8 billion
Is that for real or is it a typo?

Re:Almost 3 billion chips this year? (4, Informative)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902891)

Had you read the article, you'd see where all the chips come from, because it's summarized right below that line on the first page.

Hint: if you have an electronic device that is NOT a desktop or laptop computer, the odds are somewhere around 99 out of 100 that it's using one or more ARM chips. This includes, but is not limited to, cell phones, GPSes, home routers, calculators, and portable gaming devices like the DS.

looks like Slashdot really wants this (2, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902733)

February: Shifting Apps To ARM Chips Could Save Laptop Batteries [slashdot.org]

September: ARM Attacks Intel's Netbook Stranglehold [slashdot.org]

3 days ago: ARM Launches Cortex-A5 Processor, To Take On Atom [slashdot.org]

Doesn't mean it won't happen, of course, but still unclear if it will, either...

Re:looks like Slashdot really wants this (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902837)

Slashdot articles are essentially just links to 'real' articles by other authors/publishers. So, if there are a number of Slashdot articles about a topic, wouldn't that tend to indicate that someone (possibly multiple someones) in "The Industry" are writing about this? Granted, there's always the possibility of Cherry Picking - that is, if the /. Eds. *are* biased, they can 'overrepresent' the articles, but honestly, 4 articles in a year doesn't strike me exactly as cherry picking - just covering what various IT journalists are writing.

Windows CE and Windows Mobile (3, Informative)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902745)

Windows CE and Windows Mobile both support ARM.

There might not be "full-featured Windows" on ARM, but saying there's no Windows at all on ARM is just ignorance.

Re:Windows CE and Windows Mobile (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903607)

Windows CE and Windows Mobile both support ARM.

There might not be "full-featured Windows" on ARM, but saying there's no Windows at all on ARM is just ignorance.

They're probably subscribing to the argument that if it does not support Win32 then it does not "run Windows programs" and is therefore "not Windows." While this is technically incorrect, it is true from a practical sense for most people.

Re:Windows CE and Windows Mobile (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903809)

It cannot run the same applications as windows, therefore it's not windows...

It is partially source compatible, but not enough to make any but the simplest of apps a direct compile... Linux/arm on the other hand, makes it possible to simply recompile the vast majority of applications so that they work (i have a sheevaplug running gentoo and i have done exactly that).

People buy windows because it runs the applications they have or are familiar with, the versions of windows which run on arm don't provide this.. Linux has a greater chance of running apps users will find familiar, since there are ports of things like firefox to arm.

Re:Windows CE and Windows Mobile (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903891)

Windows CE and Windows Mobile both support ARM.

There might not be "full-featured Windows" on ARM, but saying there's no Windows at all on ARM is just ignorance.

Except that with Linux, BSD, and even OS X, the code that runs on x86 is the same code that runs on ARM (and PowerPC).

With "Windows", the code that runs on x86 is not the same as runs on the embedded stuff: there's no "scaled down" version like the Unix-based systems. It's a completely separate OS. The only multi-platform stuff that Microsoft has is Windows for Itanium.

Just because the Microsoft marketing folks call it "Windows" CE or Mobile does not make it the same as the desktop / server OS. With the Unix-y systems, it is the code and OS (though perhaps cut down to the bare essentials). And that's what we're talking about here: taking the same code and simply doing a recompile. It's not going to happen with Vista or W7, but it can happen with other OSes (heck, even OpenSolaris is being ported as-is to ARM and PowerPC).

Stealthily?! (3, Insightful)

QX-Mat (460729) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902751)

Oh please!

It's not a stealth thing at all. The low power SoC market has always been ARMs. It's AMD (Geode... and then Intel's Atom) who decided to bring x86 to the low power market. If anything the article should focus on the troubles ARM is likely to face in the near future: unless RISC can continue to compete for price (aggressively), I doubt that adding more pipelines will make the general purpose platform developers happy - RISC bottlenecks will always be bottlenecks; x86 can simply gun for greater clock speed.

IMO Transmeta had it right: very long instruction words (which ultimately do 'everything'). Unfortunately it came 10 years too soon and no-one was ready because we didn't know "what" we wanted from a clock (or half clock etc if you're talking ARM...).

VLIW will be back soon enough, but I worry that it wont be the right place for ARM.

(nb: I am an ARM fanboy, having 'matured' in an ARM sponsored undergrad lab. it upsets me as much as anyone that ARM haven't tried to reinvent the wheel using the cash from their recent market dominance)

Matt

Radeon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903029)

ATI has used VLIW in its GPU for a few years now. It is beating nVidia quite readily.

Re:Radeon (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903327)

Everything I've seen lately indicates that for GPGPU purposes (one of the somewhat useful ways to compare GPUs), nVidia is winning. There are strengths and weaknesses in each design, but the overall performance favors nVidia. Now I'm not saying this is necessarily because nVidia has better hardware; much of their advantage seems to be down to better compilers. But it's not as cut and dry for ATI as you think, and if they can't write a decent optimizing compiler, any hardware advantage they may have is moot.

Re:Stealthily?! (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903069)

It's not a stealth thing at all. The low power SoC market has always been ARMs. It's AMD (Geode... and then Intel's Atom) who decided to bring x86 to the low power market.

Yeah, but they're still not really low power and neither are their boards. They're not competing with Arm yet, in that sense.

I'll say they might be in trouble when I see first see a decent cell phone running intel.

Re:Stealthily?! (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903393)

Intel once thought VLIW was the future also, thusly making the Itanium IA64 architecture.. and I'm sure you'd know how that turned out for them.

For VLIW to be properly used compilers would have to significantly improved for the scheduling of out of order instructions at compile time.

that being said I still need to pick up an IA64 system, it's one of the last remaining on my to get list (have superhitachi, 68k, arm, ppc, sparc, mips, etc etc)

Re:Stealthily?! (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903427)

It's only stealthy to someone who has not been paying attention and/or did not know that embedded processors outsell desktop and server processors by more than 10 to 1.

Details are Wrong (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902753)

Is this the End of Intel AND Microsoft?

Intel doesn't care what OS runs on their chip. I think their Linux distro is Moblin? As long as they have orders, they don't care what the consumer uses.

Microsoft doesn't care because this is still a niche and they can string along the OEM's with XP forever. When it starts blowing up into a category all its own, I think they'll do something to encourage OEM's to use Intel chips and keep XP out there. Microsoft relies on the fact Linux still doesn't have anything overtly special on XP that the average Dell buyer wants.

Please don't flame me bro. I say these things as a long-time Debian user who gets the differences.

Re:Details are Wrong (1)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903265)

Intel doesn't care what OS runs on their chip. I think their Linux distro is Moblin? As long as they have orders, they don't care what the consumer uses.

Yeah, that part about Intel betting on Windows is just bogus nowadays. Intel is one of the 4 largest contributors to the linux kernel, has moblin as their own mobile "base" distro and mostly provides good linux support for their hardware.

Of course their investment in Windows is even larger (makes sense when you look at the market shares) but saying that Intel is somehow "betting on Windows" is just idiotic.

Low power FTW (3, Informative)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902755)

I just purchased a Wikireader, which uses a low power Epson S1C33E07 60 mhz RISC processor, not unlike an ARM. It will run for 90 hours on 2 aaa batteries. And that includes a 240 * 208 capacitive touch screen.

Re:Low power FTW (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902911)

Yes but all it does is surf wikipedia from an SD card.

It's a neat device, but hardly a netbook call me when it can play a movie, view slashdot, check my email, view slashdot, update a few trouble tickets for work, view slashdot, submit an order to Jimmy Johns for lunch, view slashdot, run an SSH client, view slashdot AND load wikipedia.

Re:Low power FTW (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903323)

Yes but all it does is surf wikipedia from an SD card.

It's a neat device, but hardly a netbook call me when it can play a movie, view slashdot, check my email, view slashdot, update a few trouble tickets for work, view slashdot, submit an order to Jimmy Johns for lunch, view slashdot, run an SSH client, view slashdot AND load wikipedia.

I think you forgot "view slashdot". I thought it would have been obvious; guess I was wrong =\

Re:Low power FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903693)

My N900 can do all that stuff plus it has a 5 MP camera and can record h264 video at roughly DV quality. Oh yeah, and it's a phone too.

I'm running Windows on ARM *right now* (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902859)

As far as the application is concerned, the only difference between Windows CE and Windows NT is the APIs exposed. The calling sequence is the same, the library structure is the same, the IDE is the same, the Pocket PC emulator on Windows works by recompiling the same source to x86 instead of ARM code and linking to a different set of libraries.

Given the variety of APIs exposed to applications running under Linux on ARM (two different Java runtimes, as well as the native UNIX APIs and X11), the differences to the application between Windows CE on my iPaq and Windows on my desktop are less than the difference between Android and Familiar.

Re:I'm running Windows on ARM *right now* (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903183)

Wait, the only difference between Windows CE and Windows NT is the APIs exposed, and the instruction set? That's true between Mac System 7 and Linux.

I think what you meant was that the APIs are very similar, or perhaps that CE is a subset of NT. Most of an OS (as far as an application is concerned) is the API.

Re:I'm running Windows on ARM *right now* (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903413)

the Pocket PC emulator on Windows works by recompiling the same source to x86 instead of ARM code and linking to a different set of libraries.

To be clear about this, Microsoft Device Emulator is a bog standards dynamic recompilation emulator for the ARM instrution set.

Applications are compiled as ARM code and linked to the ARM compiled Windows Mobile or Windows CE versions of libraries which are loaded by the Windows Mobile OS which is ARM code running fully emulated within Device Emulator.

When writing code for mobile devices, please keep power usage in mind at all times (please please please don't auto wake a thread on a timer....) as well as screen size and usability. Although (IIRC) WinCE can support USB mice, they aren't exactly common for that user segment. :)

Re:I'm running Windows on ARM *right now* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903517)

But you're missing the point. Windows CE is just a lousy, broken, piece-of-shit toy. What the article is saying is that Microsoft does not have an _operating system_ for ARM.

Windows is fading into the background (4, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902875)

It's possible that the desktop dominance of Windows will keep Arm out of the small computer market. But a lot will depend on developments with Oleds and e-ink. Currently the display is the power hog of all-in-one computers, which means that changing the cpu energy consumption makes relatively little difference. But once Oled and e-ink displays reduce the power consumption needed for the display, the cpu becomes more significant. As screen sizes on convergent devices fall - I personally suspect that the 5.5 to 7 inch diagonal screen will come to dominate in truly portable devices - the resulting limit on battery size will be the difference between an all-day device and one that cannot get through a working day. This is where the new generation of Linux distributions like Maemo and Android running on Arm will deliver a visible benefit, and the end user - who doesn't really care whether he has to run "word" or "floop" so long as the document opens correctly and edits - will be more interested in whether he can go from 7 a.m. to 7p.m without a charge.

I'm writing this on a netbook running Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.10 and it just works (TM). It would work just as well on an Arm processor.

In the real world, I'm sure that Microsoft will be able to roll out Windows Mobile on Arm one microsecond after Dell tell them that their new 7 inch communications centre and ebook reader will have to run an OS supplied by Canonical.

Re:Windows is fading into the background (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902921)

Another Slashdork living in a fantasy land. I love reading this stuff from you retards. Are you going to waste more years of your life on a dead end OS?

Re:Windows is fading into the background (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903109)

I would say WAY more people care about if their apps will run then care about if they can work for 12 hours on battery. Seriously, I've never been away from a plug more than about 4 hours except when in the backwoods camping. Even on transatlantic flights I can get a power plug to keep my laptop running.

OS/X? (1)

hemp (36945) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902913)

ARM lacks OS/X in addition to Windows.

Re:OS/X? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29902977)

Sort of. The iPhone is a trimmed down OS/X, and it runs ARM.

Re:OS/X? (4, Informative)

kamochan (883582) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902991)

Apple's iGadgets are ARM-based and run a variant of OS/X. Of course, ARM also has WinCE, so that kind of balances the karma.

Re:OS/X? (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903037)

ARM lacks OS/X in addition to Windows.

Perhaps, but the iPhone [wikipedia.org] and iPod Touch [wikipedia.org] use ARM. Lacking OS/X isn't likely to damage the prospects for ARM. At all.

The problem for AMD is... (1)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 4 years ago | (#29902969)

Nobody gives a hoot about how " high performance applications " do on netbooks.

Re:The problem for AMD is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903013)

What the flux does AMD have to do with ARM?

Re:The problem for AMD is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903675)

I'd guess that, since AMD is a competitor to ARM, and since they don't have any real low-power offerings, ARM's success on netbooks would be a problem for them.

90 Chips/Second? (1)

StrixVariaXIX (1660793) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903009)

That's 7,776,000 chips/day. I find that more than hard to believe.

They are mostly in GSM SIM cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903035)

Yes, 2 billion units a year. Most of the mobile phones in the world have at least one ARM core in them, which adds up to an awful lot.

Re:They are mostly in GSM SIM cards (1)

appleguru (1030562) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903487)

[citation needed]

Last I checked sim cards just had embedded "smart cards" which are just fancy contacts to a relatively "dumb" small thin embedded security chip and some flash memory.

Re:90 Chips/Second? (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903479)

That's 7,776,000 chips/day. I find that more than hard to believe.

They're not building the chips themselves. ARM licenses their chip designs out to other fabricators. When you consider that most of the cell phones in the world have an ARM chip in them, as well as many embedded devices (ATMs, fridges, programmable coffee makers, DVD players, car stereos, iPods/portable MP3 players, programmable remote controls, telephones, etc.), it's really not hard to conceive that they're shipping 2 billion units a year. Actually, I'm a little surprised the number is so low.

Who cares about Windows? (5, Interesting)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903129)

Even if there was a Windows port, if you cannot run the vast set of Windows applications a port is useless. You would be better off running a Linux distro since it effortlessly comes with most categories of apps people need, because said apps are open source and usually can be recompiled fairly easily. If most Windows applications were targeted at .NET by now I could see a point, but they are not.

Does such a thing exist? (1)

Dimwit (36756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903175)

I would love a full-size laptop (13" screen or better) with an ARM chip. Long battery life, full size keyboard and display. It'd be great.

The only things I can find with ARM chips these days are tiny netbooks. The largest I've found is only 10".

Anyone know any "big" ARM laptops?

Re:Does such a thing exist? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903879)

Where did you find the 10" one?
Only ones i've seen were smaller than this, and typically had very lowend previous gen arm chips and tiny non upgradeable amounts of memory.. Something around the spec of a sheevaplug, but in a laptop with multiple battery options (light 3-4 hour, heavier 1- hour) would be nice.

Yuo f4il it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29903289)

Knows that 3ver From a technical users', BigAzz, roots a8nd gets on Users With Large NIGGERS EVERYWHERE to any BSD project,

That's a lot of chips (0, Redundant)

iliketrash (624051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903495)

"ARM will ship an estimated 90 chips per second this year"

Really? Is this some kind of government math? That's 2.84 billion chips shipped in 2009.

The monopoly was always Wintel (1)

Britz (170620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29903829)

Neither Microsoft nor Intel had it. The perfect monopoly was always the duo. Both of them. Hence it was called Wintel by many in the industry. And AFAIR Intel was really up there with Microsoft when it came to playing hardball with the competition.

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