Way back in September, a tech geek brouhaha flared up when Linux fans pointed out that if Microsoft required Windows 8 to ship with UEFI Secure Boot enabled, that could mean Linux distros might not be able to run on the hardware. Don’t worry, Microsoft said at the time; OEMs had the option to include an option that disabled Secure Boot. Things calmed down after that, but now, the debate has resurfaced: new guidelines require x86-based Windows 8 systems to include the ability to disable Secure Boot, but ARM-based systems specifically CANNOT be able to turn Secure Boot off.
As we’ve already told you, Intel’s finally – after what seems like ages – making the leap into smartphones and tablets with their Atom Z2460 processors. (Not familiar with Atom Z2460? The line previously went by the code-name “Medfield.”) Thanks to deals with Motorola and Lenovo, we may be bombarded with Atom-powered smartphones later in the year, but to hear ARM CEO Warren East tell it, we’ll be getting bombarded with, well, smartphones with crappy mobile processors.
It was the best-known secret of the year: ARM was prepping its first 64-bit CPU architecture to bash head-on with Intel in the low-power server market. ARM's official announcement finally came in October, and AppliedMicro revealed bold plans for the first 64-bit processor based on the new architecture.
With Microsoft readying its first ARM-compatible version of desktop/server Windows, PCs may flirt with ARM, too, although notebooks are more likely candidates than desktops. It's the first serious challenge from a non-x86 architecture that Intel has faced in 20 years.
ARM’s built its business around power-efficient chips that are perfect for mobile applications (like tablets and smartphones), but that pedigree could transfer over to another technical arena as well, one that has traditionally been dominated by Intel and AMD: high-powered computing. In fact, Sumit Gupta, who serves as the senior manager of Nvidia’s Tesla GPU Computing HPC business, says that ARM chips are “inherently much more energy efficient than an x86 CPU” – and that fact makes Nvidia feel that the future of supercomputing lies in ARM.
According to Microsoft-watcher Paul Thurrott, Microsoft may be working toward a future where Windows 8 tablets ship without the Windows desktop. Users of these ARM-based devices would be limited to the Metro interface. This would be a significant departure from Redmond’s previous “no compromises” strategy that would have provided users both operating environments on ARM systems.
Samsung Korea today announced what it claims is the industry's first next-generation ARM Cortex-A15 equipped 2GHz dual-core system-on-chip (SoC). Dubbed 'Exynos 5250,' this dual-core part is built using a 32nm manufacturing process and offers roughly twice the performance as that of existing 1.5GHz dual-core Cortex A9 products, Samsung claims.
Windows 8 will be the first version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system to support ARM-based chips. When you’re asked to imagine ARM-based devices running Windows 8, isn’t it hard to think beyond tablets? But that is not the case with NVIDIA and Qualcomm, who are said to be banking on the Windows on ARM (WoA) platform to make a dent in the notebook market.
Next year is going to be a busy one for Qualcomm. The mobile chip maker announced a whole bunch of new Snapdragon chipsets, including several upgraded parts designed for entry-level smartphones transitioning from 2G to 3G. Along with higher end chips for feature-rich smartphones and tablets, Qualcomm is also making a push into Windows 8 PCs.
If you want to talk about unlikely bedfellows, how about Intel and ARM? These two have been slowly encroaching into each other's territories, with Intel wanting to move into handheld devices like smartphones and tablets, and ARM interested in taking a slice of the desktop pie. Even so, Intel is apparently a semiconductor partner related to ARM's Mali graphics ecosystem.
Remember our quick blurb about how Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich was going to turn mobile devices into portable gaming machines thanks to its gamepad and HDMI support? At the time, we thought playing Game Dev Story on a big screen would be cool. Our excitement factor just increased ten-fold on the heels of ARM’s announcement of the eight-core Mali-T658 mobile GPU, which ARM claims can pump out Playstation 3-quality graphics on mobile devices and smart TVs. There’s a catch, though.