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Qualcomm Wants a Piece of the PC Market

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the taking-the-battle-to-the-enemy dept.

Hardware 215

jfruhlinger writes "Much of Intel's story of the past few years has involved its so far fruitless attempts to break into the smartphone and tablet market. But as it keeps trying, it may find competition on its home turf: Qualcomm, which makes many of the ARM-based chips in those smartphones and tablets, wants to make PCs, too. The advent of Windows 8 for ARM and Android will make this possible."

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215 comments

Happy 2012 from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659678)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

SO LET'S GIVE PEACE A CHANCE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659704)

Raspberry Pi Forever !!

Re: Q and PC

  I pass a lot of gas on that call

i hope CNBC falls back in love with them (-1, Offtopic)

MichaelKristopeit488 (2549328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659706)

i remember in the late 90s every time QCOM ran across the CNBC ticker, a recorded deep voice saying "QUALCOMM" would automatically play.

good a thing as any to use for a drinking game.

Re:i hope CNBC falls back in love with them (-1, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit489 (2549326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659960)

story about qualcomm entering new markets... comment about markets responding to qualcomm... moderation: offtopic.

slashdot = stagnated

Re:i hope CNBC falls back in love with them (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660030)

ur mum's face is stagnated.

cower in my shadow some more, feeb.

you're an idiot.

you're completely pathetic.

you're an ignorant hypocrite.

you are NOTHING.

MichaelKristopeit = stagnated

Re:i hope CNBC falls back in love with them (0)

MichaelKristopeit489 (2549326) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660322)

i am michael kristopeit. i have not cowered.

it would seem you're the idiot.

why do you cower in my shadow? what are you afraid of?

Re:i hope CNBC falls back in love with them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659986)

Kind of like every time Bush spoke, out came "nukular."

Windows 8 for ARM & Android? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659708)

Did that mean (Windows 8 for ARM) and Android, or Windows 8 for (ARM and Android)?

Re:Windows 8 for ARM & Android? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659826)

Did that mean (Windows 8 for ARM) and Android, or Windows 8 for (ARM and Android)?

Are you a dumb compiler that can't parse faulty english using human language skills and context analysis? Fuck off.

Re:Windows 8 for ARM & Android? (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660782)

It doesn't matter as that turkey is gonna bomb so hard it'll finally make MSFT Bob look good!

Think about it friends, the way to know a thing is to understand it, now why do people buy Windows machines? Why to run WINDOWS programs of course! And guess what don't run on ARM? The 25 damned years worth of X86 Windows programs that everybody buys fricking windows for in the first place!

I can tell you what is gonna happen because i saw a dry run of it last Xmas, a local merchant was selling "Windows tablets!" and it looked like XP, but had in the corner a little "Compact Edition" label. Do you think ANYBODY knew what the fuck that meant? Hell no, they can't keep up with all the Windows versions anyway! So many bought the things and took them home, tried them and when they found they wouldn't actually run WINDOWS programs on a "Windows Tablet" they were brought back EN MASSE. The merchant ended up having to stick a sticker over the Windows part and sell them for a loss as a generic tablet.

And THAT dear children is what is gonna happen with Windows 8, Ballmer is trying to force a cell phone OS onto the desktop which doesn't have touch screens for 99.5% of the units being sold and at the same time fool developers into thinking "Hey if I write for Win 8 i can sell anywhere!" which of course is complete horseshit as X86 and ARM devices are about as different as mopeds and semi trucks. one you have to be ultra light and give a shit about resources, the other? Meh they got multicores and assloads of RAM anyway right?

The only thing that makes sense to me is that Ballmer is hated enough by the engineers they are gonna let the sweaty monkey hang himself by his own stupid ideas, otherwise somebody would have called captain obvious to save the day. Everyone knows since he has been CEO its been one clusterfuck after another with only the fact they brought in the office guys to gut Vista and rebuild it from the ground up into a decent OS keeping them from back to back flops. I mean look at his track record, rushing X360 with a fatal flaw costing billions, Zune, killing playsforsure for Zune market, kin, WinPhone looks to be another WinMo flop, hell i could probably go on all day. Any company that is stupid enough to waste resources on Windows 8 development deserves to fail. the smart money says everyone sticks with Win 7 which will hopefully get the monkey FIRED and bring in someone like Ozzie that has a brain. Lets face it if he wasn't billy's little buddy he'd already be shitcanned, he's cost them dump trucks worth of money trying to be Apple.

Final prediction? Win 8 total flop, win 7 sells like mad as people scramble to keep from getting stuck with win 8, OEMs demand downgrade rights to 7, Ballmer fired. The last one not a sure bet if Billy gets involved but surely another Vista flop will have the board revolt.

Re:Windows 8 for ARM & Android? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659904)

Did that mean (Windows 8 for ARM) and Android, or Windows 8 for (ARM and Android)?

If you can't figure that out then you're far too close to the bottom of the intelligence pool to participate in this discussion.

Re:Windows 8 for ARM & Android? (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660738)

probably a windows 8 user

Hmmm... (4, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659718)

What goes around, comes around.

At one time, Apple pitched RISC (ala PowerPC) as the logical successor to CISC (x86). They were also an early investor in ARM (along with Acorn and VLSI). Intel, though, had the development resouces ($$$) to stave that off.

Sounds like it might finally be happening.

(Opinion: Too bad Apple has turned evil in the interim.)

Re:Hmmm... (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659982)

Interesting about apple, never thought about it.

I'm convinced intel have been too set in their ways with portable computing, that, realistically none of their offerings can be considered serious attempts and that's why they haven't penetrated the market, but that's all because the x86 chips just havn't been small enough to be efficient and use little power to keep devices going for a long while. In the end, apple will say whatever the isheep will want to hear to keep them faithful, but they wouldn't have gone to intel if it didn't bring a vast array of improvements. I don't think arm will bring a vast array of improvements over x86 to the desktop sphere, and you have to remember that x86 has that huge backlog of software and familiarity that would be hard to just push to the side.

Re:Hmmm... (4, Interesting)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660198)

but that's all because the x86 chips just havn't been small enough to be efficient and use little power to keep devices going for a long while.

I wonder why Intel doesn't rip out the x86 decoder from it chips and then write compiler back-ends that directly generate micro-ops.

Since the decoder stage is large and power-hungry, the resulting chips would be faster than any ARM variant while also being much smaller are low-power than Atoms.

Re:Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660258)

but that's all because the x86 chips just havn't been small enough to be efficient and use little power to keep devices going for a long while.

I wonder why Intel doesn't rip out the x86 decoder from it chips and then write compiler back-ends that directly generate micro-ops.

Since the decoder stage is large and power-hungry, the resulting chips would be faster than any ARM variant while also being much smaller are low-power than Atoms.

Yeah, thats RISC.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660888)

Depends on the chip. Sandy Bridge, maybe. Atom, probably not.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660148)

From an architectural perspective, 10 years ago RISC hardware could easily outperform CISC due to simplified superscalar hardware design(pipelining, out of order execution etc.), but this really is no longer relevant, at least in the PC/notebook arena.

However, the extra transistors necessary to do superscalar operations on CISC versus RISC is relatively static, and naturally as the total number of transistors per chip increases, the relative overhead of the extra complexity decreases. Furthermore since CISC instructions tend to be more compact than RISC, you can get further speed advantages. For instance it takes less time to switch a process into memory and you have a higher instruction cache hit rate etc.

Re:Hmmm... (2)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660684)

I think that is exactly it. If I recall correctly pipelining came out first in the RISC area which helped a lot. It took a few years for the CISC chips to follow suit.

Finding the parallelism needed to keep busy is hard at all levels. Instruction level parallelism down at the op level and task level parallelism at the core level. Small transistor count operations that can be data-paralleled for speed is all fine and dandy but finding enough chunks consistently to keep all of those parallel channels full is hard. Clumping things into more complicated tasks that can keep one section of the cpu busy for a while increases the likelihood that another one of "those" will come up soon especially if you allow for out of order execution. Similarly building up independent tasks (applications, clients to serve, etc) is the easiest way to consistently keep all the CPU cores busy. Everything else used to parallelism a logical task across CPUs involves more difficulty (deadlocks, cache coherency etc) in managing the parallelism well and an inherit cost of parallelism (and limit on performance increase a la Amdhal's Law).

When transistors were large the time needed to move data around within the CPU was more significant, as the die shrinks the time needed to move things around shrinks and the more transistor width hops that can be made in a single clock cycle (so more of the "far stuff" is accessible in a single tick).

Driverless PC (4, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659740)

Just what I can't wait to have, a PC that I can't get any drivers for or put anything but the singular blessed Windows 8 installation it came with on.

Re:Driverless PC (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659786)

Exactly, worse yet is the applicationless PC. If I'm running Windows rather than Linux, it is usually for some application that WINE doesn't work on, usually some poorly maintained ancient software that I simply can't find a replacement for, or gaming. An ARM based simply has no use. It doesn't matter if ARM is better than x86, if I have to use certain applications that only run on x86 and Microsoft has made no move to put seamless x86 emulation in Windows 8, why would I buy an ARM computer unless I'm looking to only run Linux on it, in which case why wouldn't I just buy a tablet or an x86 PC?

Re:Driverless PC (4, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659832)

I've long since believed that WINE is going to be the new API people write apps for. Especially for legacy Windows apps.

2012? (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660034)

The year of the WINE desktop!

Re:Driverless PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660072)

Me too! I'm gonna load up LINUX on my COMPAQ PENTIUM 233 and run VISUAL BASIC 6 applications using Wine! 1998 was a best year and I wished it had never ended! (It was the last year I touched a boob.)

Re:Driverless PC (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660280)

(It was the last year I touched a boob.)

That's why it's better to be a fat nerd instead of a skinny nerd. Sure, the fat nerd might only be touching manboobs, but that's better than not touching any boobs.

Re:Driverless PC (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660854)

I guess you didn't notice the logical disparity between "API people write apps for" and "legacy Windows apps" ?

In case it still isn't clear, a "legacy" app is one that was written years ago, while a "new" app is one that people are writing now. *cough*

Re:Driverless PC (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660098)

Because x86 PCs will be able to handle Metro apps and x86 apps.

As Slashdot is often fond of pointing out, for 90% of users the capabilities of a PC are superfluous. ARM/x86 for lightweight apps and x86 exclusively for workstations.

Personally I think x86 will simply squash ARM within 18 months and it's only going to be useful to stave off the current Android/iOS onslaught but as Windows 8 moves onto the phone Microsoft needs a portable application framework which can run on their consoles, phones and PCs.

Re:Driverless PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660068)

"Just what I can't wait to have, a PC that I can't get any drivers for"

Why wait? Just run Linux.

(ducking)

Re:Driverless PC (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660116)

Linux should run on it, especially since the Android drivers are supposed to go back into the vanilla kernel.

Re:Driverless PC (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660326)

Not drivers, the custom modifications to the kernel for Android. Drivers for Android devices rarely ever make it upstream, let alone binary blobs the system depends on. Such blobs are almost always linked against Bionic and as a result useless with Xorg and other non-Android bits.

Not going to work... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659742)

I'm sorry, but unless Windows 8 comes with a top-notch emulation platform to run x86 apps, this is dead. As much as I enjoy having an Android smartphone, having a PC running Android is something I DO NOT WANT. The main reasons why people want a full fledged PC rather than a tablet is for certain legacy applications (along with a real keyboard/mouse!) and such. If Linux hasn't been able to succeed on the desktop, then I see no reason why ARM would succeed. Plus, we all know that people are going to be talked out of this by your typical Best Buy salesmen and your average person who /thinks/ they are computer savvy but not really. When looking at a 1.2 Ghz ARM CPU vs a 2.2 Ghz x86 CPU their gut instinct is to go for the x86 even though it might be inferior to the ARM.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

leoplan2 (2064520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659772)

It will be a very difficult task to port x86 software to ARM...

Re:Not going to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659812)

Recompile it if it is C or C++.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

leoplan2 (2064520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659820)

But not all software is in C or C++...

Re:Not going to work... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659890)

But not all software is in C or C++...

OK, so recompile it if it's in Pascal or Ada or Fortran or....

The only software that you can't recompile (after checking for stuff that doesn't port) would be software in x86 assembler language; is there a significant amount of Windows application software out there written in assembler?

Re:Not going to work... (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660404)

The only software that you can't recompile (after checking for stuff that doesn't port) would be...

..software you don't have the source code for.

Like every proprietary Windows app that I own.

Sure, the developer might recompile it, but then they'll expect me to buy another copy for ARM. Why would I want to do that?

Re:Not going to work... (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659922)

If you've got C/C++, Java and .Net (obviously the latter 2 don't need a recompile) then you've probably got the majority of consumer-level software.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659828)

It will be a very difficult task to port x86 software to ARM...

Why? Because people who write x86 software in higher-level languages tend to assume they can get away with unaligned references? Or because your definition of "x86 software" means "software written in x86 assembler language"?

Re:Not going to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659896)

Notice how Office hasn't been announced for ARM yet. This is millions of lines of code written over 20+ years - It's likely that there are tons of low level hacks to get performance (when doing this actually mattered). I can imagine lots of inline assembly routines and such.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660052)

Notice how Office hasn't been announced for ARM yet.

Where were you a year ago when they did exactly that at CES?

Re:Not going to work... (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660750)

IIRC, those windows tablets last year were x86, not ARM.

Microsoft didn't demo Office for ARM until a few days ago.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660808)

Nevermind, I was completely wrong about the Office for Arm thing.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660226)

For that matter, the OS could even intercept and handle unaligned references - very slow, but potentially useful for compat purposes.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660282)

For that matter, the OS could even intercept and handle unaligned references - very slow, but potentially useful for compat purposes.

...which I think SunOS did on SPARC (and may still do, but I'm too lazy to go look at the OpenSolaris source to see what SunOS 5.x does).

Or, alternatively, if the compiler can determine that an access is potentially unaligned, it can generate "safe" code. I seem to remember at least some SPARC C compiler or compilers having an option to make them generate unaligned-safe code for all pointer dereferences.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660300)

Or, alternatively, if the compiler can determine that an access is potentially unaligned, it can generate "safe" code.

I think that would be pretty tricky. I mean, no standard conforming C or C++ code can do unaligned access by definition, so if someone does it, they're firmly in the realm of U.B. already, and you can only guess. You'd need whole program data flow analysis to see where the pointers come from, and flag any case of reinterpret_cast or analog that may produce an unaligned result. I think that may end up being too pessimistic, and generate slow code for cases where it's not needed in practice. The runtime solution has the nice property that it doesn't penalize code that does not do such nasty things.

By the way, VC++ actually has a non-standard __unaligned specifier for pointers that can be used to explicitly mark unaligned access for the compiler where desired. IIRC, it was originally put there for Itanium, but could be used just as well for ARM.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660378)

I mean, no standard conforming C or C++ code can do unaligned access by definition, so if someone does it, they're firmly in the realm of U.B. already, and you can only guess.

Unaligned accesses are probably rare, but I don't see why you can't do them in a C or C++ compiler.

char bitmap24bit[ 3 * 1024 * 768];
int pixel = (*(int *)(bitmap24bit + ( ( 1024 * y ) + x ) * 3) ) & 0xffffff;

Enabling packed structures in gcc should also cause lots of unaligned accesses.

I remember years ago when we first ran into a CPU which couldn't handle unaligned accesses we had to fix up a number of crashes in the software we were writing at the time. And that wasn't even developed on x86.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660482)

My point was not that it's impossible to write C/C++ code that will cause unaligned access on some implementation. Rather, that any such code inherently causes undefined behavior according to the letter of the corresponding language standard.

E.g. your example code invokes undefined behavior according to either C or C++ standard. The reason is that it the alignment requirement for char is 1, so bitmap24bit can be aligned by the compiler on any random byte boundary. And the alignment requirement for int is unspecified, but can be anything up to sizeof(int). And casting a pointer from char* to T* is only legal if the alignment is correct for the target type; e.g. in C99 (6.3.2.3/7):

"A pointer to an object or incomplete type may be converted to a pointer to a different object or incomplete type. If the resulting pointer is not correctly aligned for the pointed-to type, the behavior is undefined."

C++ has different wording to the same effect. It also provides std::aligned_storage<T> to work around this limitation in a portable way when you need it.

Enabling packed structures in gcc should also cause lots of unaligned accesses.

Same thing: there's no such thing as "packed structures" in either C or C++ standards. Most if not all compilers have some language extensions to allow for them, but they are not standard, so behavior of any pointer to a field of such a structure is firmly implementation-defined. E.g. VC++ docs for the corresponding compiler feature (#pragma pack) explicitly state that taking an address of a packed member and then trying to read/write anything through it may crash.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659966)

Fortunately OnLive [dailymail.co.uk] and about a thousand other people have got that covered. Just because you need Windows apps doesn't mean you have to actually have it running on your devices.

Re:Not going to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660408)

Yep, it's brutal. You have to type "./configure" and you have to type "make". Nobody has time to do both of those things.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660622)

Hell you forgot all of the labors of "make install". But seriously not everything is portable even thought that is the point of higher level languages. Also win8 arm won't run treditional desktop apps iirc only mettro is allowed. At the least then you may have to rewrite the Gui. Also win32 and directX probably won't be the same in the arm version just like the xbox version is different. it would be minnor but that is still 20+ years of legacy software to rebuild/write/debug and hell looking at last monthes code may leave me wondering what the hell I was doing.

Re:Not going to work... (4, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659902)

If Linux hasn't been able to succeed on the desktop, then I see no reason why ARM would succeed

Depends on the price, I guess.

Replace Linux with Android, get a price under $50 (even if display-less) and you have a desktop good for browsing, social networking and communication (Skype). As for the price: if Raspberry PI can, I think it is possible put a bit more RAM for the price.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659942)

Not really. We had this fad back a few years ago, it was called "netbooks" that sold for low prices but almost immediately people started complaining about that they didn't run the applications they needed.

Plus, Android is absolute crap on anything that isn't a smartphone. On smartphones? Its decent. On anything else? Not so much. Even on tablets most Android devices seem rather "forced" and hacked together on the best days.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660018)

Not really. We had this fad back a few years ago, it was called "netbooks" that sold for low prices but almost immediately people started complaining about that they didn't run the applications they needed.

Not enough screen-space, rather. I used one, great for Skype-ing, but couldn't do much of browsing because of the screen-space.

Not enough screen space was intel's fault (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660592)

The limited screen space on netbooks was intel's fault. Basically intel restricted the "netbook" to 1024x600 resolution to avoid cannablizing their high-margin "notebook" market. It wouldn't sell atom processors to vendors that violated this restriction and actively discouraged any atom processors w/o their own integrated graphics (by pricing the stand alone atom processors more than the combination chipset package which required signing the "netbook" restriction agreement). Although intel got dinged for this anti-trust behavior, it was basically too late for the netbook market.

Re:Not enough screen space was intel's fault (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660656)

Mmmmh! Maybe...
* as the owner of one of the first Eee700 [wikipedia.org] , I can tell that 800x480 is just awful for anything but Skype.
* I can see later models of eeePc featured a 1366x768 resolution. Where they on an AMD cpu?

Re:Not enough screen space was intel's fault (1)

Socialism is win! (1982128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660702)

When the revolution has been prosecuted, all CPUs will be approved by The People's Committee for Maximum Computing Morality. The People will not be denied the products they want at the price they are willing to pay!

Re:Not going to work... (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660350)

I am betting you haven't tinkered with Android 4.0 then...

Re:Not going to work... (1)

PieceOfShitAndroid (2538056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660680)

It sounds like he has...

Re:Not going to work... (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659908)

Emulating x86 on ARM seems to be the worst way to compansate for the lack of apps. And is it even possible? I mean, even discounting the usual losses due to emulation, x86 chips are usually much more powerful. Even if it were possible to get decent speeds, it wouldn't be feasible, since emulation (especially when high-level, which I'm assuming would have to be the case) usually causes annoying compatibility problems. Look at Wine. It's great work, doesn't even have to emulate different hardware and is not always a joy to use. If we're talking about a possible shift to ARM, Debian already has a humongous amount of software for it. Maybe Ubuntu could be used for a few vendors, though if I had to bet, I'd pick a mix of Windows 8 (~80%) and Android due to familiarity with the system, even if it's on a new architecture. Vendors aren't usually smart.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659984)

People want their applications. People want their familiar programs. If we learned anything from the entire netbook experiment it is that people don't like change. A version of Windows that won't run their normal Windows programs will soon be forced out of the market. If Linux couldn't succeed on the desktop than ARM will not be able to. Linux had absolutely everything going for it back in 2007-2009, a user friendly distribution (Ubuntu), the dominant OS was crap (Vista), cheap hardware (netbooks), lots of top-notch software for it (Firefox, OpenOffice, etc.), by then codec problems were nearly 100% resolved (DVDs and MP3s were easily played) and the start of "web apps" and Google Docs meant that a lot of things could be done via the internet rather than installed on a hard drive.

Linux had every possible thing going for it and yet it failed. Because as soon as people booted it up, got used to it but then figured that X didn't exist for it (where X was some proprietary program, usually unmaintained and a niche software program with no OSS equivalent) people left it for Windows.

The exact same thing will happen with Windows 8 for ARM. If you can't get your applications running on it which is always the biggest migration factor, you won't end up keeping any users.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660816)

i use windows 7 at work, and to get legacy 16 bit apps to work i had to install the stupid win xp mode vm, and some don't even work with that (esp those with dongles).

the success of win 8 for ARM will depend more on microsofts business tactics than anything to do with demand or practicality.

if there are no reasonable alternative (due to shady oem deals) then windows users will put up with what they're given.

for someone who doesn't care about the os and just wants to do their job, linux is hard to learn (because it isn't windows), but this is of course not the case for someone new to computers starting out on linux.

microsoft will no doubt make some kind of dodgy thunking mechanism, which will be a pain in the ass, but will enable microsoft to claim compatibility

Re:Not going to work... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660086)

Wine is frequently buggy precisely because it is not an emulator. It is an attempt to create a set of compatibility libraries that shim between Windows APIs and a completely different OS. It's a miracle it works at all, given what a Herculean task that is.

If Microsoft wanted to emulate x86 on ARM, they'd probably do exactly what Apple did when they emulated PowerPC on x86 (which, incidentally, worked remarkably well for most apps): include a complete copy of the actual x86 Windows libraries, run it all in a dynamically recompiling emulator, and translate the few dozen system calls where the apps and libraries actually call down into the kernel. And boom. You're done.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660674)

If Microsoft wanted to emulate x86 on ARM, they'd probably do exactly what Apple did when they emulated PowerPC on x86 (which, incidentally, worked remarkably well for most apps): include a complete copy of the actual x86 Windows libraries, run it all in a dynamically recompiling emulator, and translate the few dozen system calls where the apps and libraries actually call down into the kernel. And boom. You're done.

The problem is that most architecture transitions are done for reasons of performance. A 500MHz Alpha running x86 programs under FX!32 could run them faster than the then-competing 200MHz Pentium Pro. Apple replaced PowerBooks with aging single core G4 processors with MacBooks with dual core Core-architecture processors at close to 50% higher clock speeds.

Emulating an x86 processor on a 1GHz ARM processor will yield performance similar to that of a 400MHz Pentium II, and the extra load will cause battery life to suffer significantly. Considering that battery life is the primary purpose in using ARM to begin with, that seems like a non-starter.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660576)

Emulating x86 on ARM seems to be the worst way to compansate for the lack of apps. And is it even possible? I mean, even discounting the usual losses due to emulation, x86 chips are usually much more powerful.

For the moment, true. However you don't need to do full x86 hardware emulation to get good results. Longsoon chips are MIPS based, but include hardware-assisted x86 emulation.

If someone like Qualcomm were to produce an advanced multi-core Snapdragon (a la Tegra) with a similar set of instructions, I have no doubt most productivity software would run well enough to be usable.

Hardware-assisted x86 emulation
Loongson 3 adds over 200 new instructions to speed up x86 instruction execution at a cost of 5% of the total die area. The new instructions help QEMU translate x86 instructions by lowering the overhead of executing x86/CISC-style instructions in the MIPS pipeline. With added improvements in QEMU from ICT, Loongson-3 achieves an average of 70% the performance of executing native binaries when running x86 binaries from nine benchmarks.

Re:Not going to work... (2)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659992)

You should note that Win8/ARM won't run "desktop" style applications anyhow, so an emulator won't do you any good. The only applications it will run are Metro applications, which are already going to support ARM. ARM + Windows is Metro from day 1, so you need only be concerned with new applications.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660190)

ARM + Windows is Metro from day 1, so you need only be concerned with new applications.

Why would anyone run Windows if it won't run their old Windows apps?

Re:Not going to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660512)

Why would anyone run Windows if it won't run their old Windows apps?

Why not? Android and iOS have done fine without having to have a library of apps available pre-launch.

Re:Not going to work... (3, Informative)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660192)

This has been debunked over, and over, and over again.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-desktop-apps-will-run-on-windows-8-on-arm/10756 [zdnet.com]

Re:Not going to work... (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660274)

Normally Mary-Jo Foley is right on the money, but not in this case. Microsoft has made it very clear that ARM devices will only be able to acquire applications from the Microsoft Store (they're doing the Walled Garden) and that the Microsoft Store will only offer Metro applications for download. The desktop tile is enabled on ARM devices in some builds because of the shared codebase, but you won't find it on the retail version.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660778)

When have they said that ARM devices will be Microsoft Store-only?

Re:Not going to work... (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660010)

I imagine ARM is going to be up against the same problems as the Itanium.

Re:Not going to work... (2)

Formalin (1945560) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660074)

So long as it runs facebook and porn, most users won't notice.

Re:Not going to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660144)

A tablet is a full fledged PC. It may not have a keyboard but other than that it is just like any laptop in the market.

Re:Not going to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660502)

A tablet is a full fledged PC. It may not have a keyboard but other than that it is just like any laptop in the market.

Cool, it's like a laptop but useless.

Re:Not going to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660398)

When looking at a 1.2 Ghz ARM CPU vs a 2.2 Ghz x86 CPU their gut instinct is to go for the x86 even though it might be inferior to the ARM.

That's a good point. How about if they list an "equivalent" metric, similar to what most CFL bulbs list to compare with incandescents?

Re:Not going to work... (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660420)

It doesn't and it won't from what I've saw on MS talks. Win 8 is meant to be a (not yelling just plain text emphasizing :-)) PLATFORM SWITCH + backwards compatiblity not platform switch + BACKWARDS COMPATIBLITY.

ie: your old stuff on an x86 platform will continue to work just fine. Your new stuff will work on both x86 and ARM. But old stuff non-ARM will not work. The idea (wishful thinking) is everyone is supposed to switch to Metro Style apps if at all possible running on the WinRT (Win32 is on the path to depreciation/isn't the "standard" API anymore) and you'll likely get Win Phone support for free or very cheaply. That said ARM will have .Net 4.5/common API with x86 so you could port your existing program to the new .Net or recompile your C++/Fortran/Pascal (with all the fun macros necessary to support different architectures) and run. So either way you are likely going to need some work to rebuild your app and for moderate sized apps/anything you can possibly dream of a user using a tablet for you probably should think about putting the effort into making it a WinRT/Metro style app.

    I think MS finally clued into the power of a cross platform platform (a la iPad/iPhone/OS X) versus lots of redesign for each platform. That said: I hate the touch centric model. Great for a novice computer user or someone in an awkward position (laying back on a couch, in a moving car, etc) but for everyone else expecting quick interaction keyboard and mouse are the way to go.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660868)

old stuff on an x86 platform will continue to work

old stuff non-ARM will not work

Isn't x86 considered "non-ARM"?

Will my old x86 programs work on ARM or will they not?

Re:Not going to work... (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660896)

Nope not without recompiling/fixing whatever problems arise, or in the case of .net porting to .net 4.5.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660446)

Not only that but Intel is a behemoth opposite their closest competitor/rival: AMD. AMD is staying afloat. Unless they make the margins Intel is making on its chips or they can sell millions of PCs / tablet a year, I don't think this will work out well for them. There's also a lot of incentives and product placement for HP, Apple, etc online and in retail stores like Best Buy. Sorry but who is going to buy the Qualcomm ARM Windows 8 system. Intel and AMD are the brand people recognize. Besides the only growth market right now seems to be iPad tablets.

Re:Not going to work... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660894)

you don't have to recognize a brand to buy it... most people have no idea what brand microcontroller is driving their tv, set top box or microwave. intel is only a big fish in microprocessors. microcontrollers are gradually becoming as powerful as their microprocessor cousins, and in the microcontroller industry, freescale is pretty hard to top, but i doubt many would have even heard of them (although their parent company, motorola, would no doubt be familiar).

...but not the piece that makes PCs. (3, Informative)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659874)

But as it keeps trying, it may find competition on its home turf: Qualcomm, which makes many of the ARM-based chips in those smartphones and tablets, wants to make PCs, too [itworld.com] .

The article linked to says

The company is talking with PC makers about building thin and light computers based on its Snapdragon chips, Jacobs said during a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show.

which isn't quite the same as "Qualcomm ... wants to make PCs".

Re:...but not the weight that makes PCs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660824)

The "thick and heavy" market is already cornered.

The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (5, Interesting)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659918)

Before I being, bear in mind, the whole annoying mantra that x86 will NEVER compete with ARM in low-power applications has just been shot out of the water: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5365/intels-medfield-atom-z2460-arrive-for-smartphones [anandtech.com]

I've been hearing ad-nauseum about how all ARM has to do to destroy x86 in the desktop market is to flip a couple of bits and they'll have "good enough" performance while using zero-point energy that produces free power and unicorns since about 2006. In the meantime, the exact same people who say that ARM is "good enough" rip dual-core Atoms for being too slow (while the single-core Medefield I just linked to is faster than dual--core A9's in the Iphone 4S and Galaxy Nexus, while using less power).

I've also heard about how the A15 will completely blow Intel away when it finally shows up blah blah blah (I heard the exact same story about the A9 cores btw, and Intel is still in business).

What I have yet to see is ARM *really* ratchet up performance... and no, I'm not saying that they need to beat Ivy Bridge... I'm saying they need to *approximate* a mobile 1.8Ghz Core 2 from about 2006 to get that "good enough" performance. I have yet to see that chip, and for all you fanboys out there, the A15 is *not* that chip (it'll likely finally beat a single-core Atom from 2008... but remember the single-core Atom was never good enough to begin with!). Intel has closed the gap for x86... it's a done deal, and no amount of "ARM is magical" will change the laws of physics.

ARM has *NOT* closed the performance gap with x86, and when you add in all the cache, real memory controllers (not those jokes used in current ARM designs) and I/O controllers needed to do real work, your ARM chip will end up using just as much power as a competitive x86, no matter how many forums you go on to brag about the superioirity of the ARM instruction set that doesn't even do 64 bit, and which you never even write assembler for anyway.

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660024)

I'm eagerly looking forward to these devices. I have high hopes for this platform. But we need real-world samples of a production device in independent labs please. Until then we can't compare them to the shipping devices of their era, because their era has not yet begun. Intel has promised a lot of things over the years that never came to market.

One of the things that might prevent this from coming to market is pressure on OEMs to avoid Android on x86, if they want to get Window 8 platform development assistance. The OEMs can push back since these platforms don't run Windows, but most of them would not dare.

It will be interesting to see if Intel can get an OEM not only to promise and to develop this, but to manufacture, aggressively price and sell it.

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660250)

Isn't GP's link to AnandTech review precisely this kind of independent testing? Sure, it's a reference device, not a production one, but provided it's the same size and weight, what's the difference?

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660336)

It matters. And the review is not to AnandTech's usual rigorous and respectable standards. Like I said, we've seen a lot of these reference designs over the years and been disappointed when they didn't come to market, or were hidden under a rock. If Intel can't get anybody to make the thing then it does not matter how good it is. Intel is not designing this stuff for their own amusement.

I want to believe. Show me.

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660406)

We'll see once K800 [techradar.com] comes out - which should be soon enough.

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660454)

I'm not just being mean. I really do have high hopes. I submitted the LG [slashdot.org] phone article, but it was rejected - probably for "too early".

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660088)

Actually, as noted in the internal Intel Medfield slideshow, the biggest issue there is thinness. There's a lot of hardware required to maintain that Atom, along with a battery. I'm surprised that Intel was able to get their mobile dreams realized, though. Here's hoping they pan out, I suppose. You seem very defensive, though. Calm down, the only thing to do in this case is wait for products with Intel chips to come to market.

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (5, Interesting)

Required Snark (1702878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660200)

Starting your argument by referring to the opposing opinion as "fanboys" does not help your position, it weakens it.

There are market and structural forces that are driving x86 and ARM into competition. First, because of smart phones, ARM has a huge installed base. No matter what Anandtech says, I don't see a lot of x86 pushback in that area. Ignoring technical considerations, ARM has won that battle, just the same way that x86 won the desktop/laptop battle. (Note the use of past tense.)

Another important component is the number of players in the x86 vs. ARM competition. For x86 there is Intel, AMD and VIA. Any others are truly niche players. Even though ARM manufacturers all are licensed, the range of products and room for innovation is far greater in the ARM world because of the shear number of vendors. To succeed with an ARM product you have to stand out from the crowd, so innovation and price/performance are required to just stay in business. Even if a big player fails that will not change the dynamic.

So x86 "fanboys" should be happy about the ARM, because without the competition Intel would do what all other monopolies do: build products that are overly expensive, poorly performing, have built in obsolesce, and insure lock in, i.e. Microsoft. If it were not for ARM, it is very unlikely that the Intel ATOM would even exist. AMD is having trouble eve breathing, and VIA is small change. Without competition from ARM the x86 will die a slow death.

So smart phone and tablet manufacturers want to expand their market. One way is to expand the low end, and the other way is to invade the high end. It is inevitable that both will happen. Therefor ARM based products will end up competing with x86 products, and they will have success. The only question is when it will happen and how much market share they will take.

Microsoft has figured this out, because Windows 8 will do both. In this case I think they know what they are doing, even if they usually have their head in the sand. As long as ARM Windows 8 supports the core Microsoft apps, for a huge fraction of the customer base it makes no different what CPU they have. And there will be Windows 8 ARM hardware that says "Intel Inside". They can't afford to give up on that part of the market.

It's not about "fanboys". At some level, it is not even about technology. It is about market forces.

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660228)

In the meantime, the exact same people who say that ARM is "good enough" rip dual-core Atoms for being too slow (while the single-core Medefield I just linked to is faster than dual--core A9's in the Iphone 4S and Galaxy Nexus, while using less power).

I don't know about the new ones, but older dual-core Atoms can't play HD H.264 without dropping frames. The dual-core 200MHz ARMs I worked with a few years ago could do that, because they also had some hardware decoding assist built in.

What does the average user do on a PC these days that an ARM can't do just as well? My i5 laptop is much more powerful than an ARM, but spends most of its time idle... and when I do something complex like playing H.264 video it hands off most of the work to the GPU.

Now, I do CPU-intensive work on the laptop, which is why I wanted an i5. But if you just browse the web and play the occasional video then an ARM with video assist hardware is plenty fast enough. An Atom without video assist hardware is not.

(And before anyone accuses me of begin an ARM fanboy, I have three Atom systems here which are all fine for what they're used for... but the only one which does play HD video is the one which offloads the work to the Nvidia GPU)

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (4, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660364)

First of all, this Intel Medfield thing is, at this point, nothing more than a publicity stunt, specially its power consumption. To put it in perspective, Intel's only official statement with vaguely objective numbers puts Intel Medfield with a power usage of over 2W. This isn't particularly bad when compared to Intel's previous offering.

Yet, once you compare it with today's ARM-based products, it still can't compete. Let me explain.

If you put it in perspective with today's real world ARM-based systems, you will see that they all have a less than 1W power usage. You can check link which you provided to AnandTech's article on Intel Medfield to learn that. So, this might not appear much, but it demonstrates that Intel Medfield is a power hog that drains at idle at best over 2x the power required by ARM systems at peak demand [extremetech.com] . Intel's official figures puts Intel Medfield with a idle power usage at around 2.3 Watts. With ARM-based systems, the idle power is at worse around 40mW. That is, according to Intel's marketing department, Intel Medfield uses 60x the power that ARM-based systems use at idle. Is that what you describe as shooting a claim "out of the water"?

Then you go on boasting Intel Medfield's performance. Yet, what you don't understand is that synthetic benchmarks don't matter in the real world. All that matters is that a computer is able to perform some task with an acceptable level of performance. So, a user may not notice any performance difference between two systems whose WhateverMark is over 200% apart. Why would it matters if a system is able to play three or five concurrent HD video streams if a lower-spec system is quite able to play only one HD video stream? After a certain point, performance is irrelevant, as Intel's Atom line demonstrates.

So, knowing that Intel Medfield's computational power is irrelevant and knowing that Intel Medfield's future best-case propaganda power requirements are huge when compared with today's ARM products, why exactly are you claiming that Intel's tomorrow showcase product even competes with yesterday's ARM systems?

Re:The ARMy of fanboys is getting repetitive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660448)

Woah, slow down buddy. No need to get so bent out of shape. ARM probably isn't going to kill Intel, but I don't think Intel is going to make serious roads into the mobile space either.

Intel's comparison of their unreleased chip against existing chips, one of which is almost a year old at this point, is a little disingenuous. By the time Medfield ships, newer, faster ARM chips will be out and it seems unlikely that Intel will have such a large advantage. Also, new ARM chips will either be manufactured on a 32 or 28 nm process which should bring the power usage down as well. They also face the challenge of app compatibility. There probably won't be a problem with all apps, but any ARM-specific code either won't run or will need to be translated to Intel instructions, degrading performance.

Consumers aren't going to be happy if their favorite app no longer works and developers may not care about adding support, especially if the number of devices is small. Interestingly enough, this is about the same reason why ARM isn't going to quickly break into Intel's market. Neither company has a presence in the other's space and getting there is going to be a pain in the ass. That said, if the endeavor to gain a foothold motivates each company to produce better products who am I to complain?

I want to make one too (1)

dontgetshocked (1073678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660142)

Where can I sign up to start making them myself?

2012 will be the year of the ... (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660208)

Windows on ARM PC and we can't forget the year of Linux on the desktop. Yeah, right.

Qualcomm folks must be smoke'n something good to think Windows on ARM is going to be worth a hill of beans. It'll probably be just as good as Windows on the OLPC XO was, at best.

LoB

Online apps (2)

sgunhouse (1050564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660430)

With even Microsoft's emphasis on online apps these days, it shouldn't matter what processor a system has. They made their bed, I guess they can lie in it.

As far as emulators, everyone recalls the PC emulators available for the PPC Macs. They did work, but the system they were emulating was slow by standards of the time. You could in principle emulate any processor on any other processor - but would it be worthwhile?

Great for Linux folks (2)

Malvineous (1459757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38660628)

Given that I already run Linux on non-x86 architectures I've long awaited for an alternative CPU to use in my desktop PC. x86 has a lot of baggage from the need to be backwards compatible with an architecture developed in the 1980s, so scrapping all that and reusing the transistors for something more performance oriented would be fine with me.

HTPC (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38660886)

I was just going to comment but then I noticed "PC" is the laptop. So PC is the multi-purpose "tool" used for something else than browsing and email? It can't be a a laptop as laptops don't usually have the muscle (it's possible but with $$$). So usually that leaves the desktop because we don't need mini computers in the modern era.

The thing I was going to comment was: How well this supports HTPC configuration, i.e. RAID (for storing big amounts of data), TV cards and 1080p HDMI. I guess badly as RAID is the "server" component, TV cards are the "desktop" component and 1080p movies are not really the most common use case.

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