Many have claimed that Microsoft’s Windows on Arm efforts were a direct reaction to the iPad, and while I’m sure that’s the motivation these days, it turns out Microsoft had the idea long before the first Apple tablet ever shipped. In a recent post on the building Windows 8 blog, several Windows on Arm details leaked out, along with a pair of photos showing Windows 7 running on an Asus smartphone. Careful examination of the EXIF data shows the pictures were taken on January 22nd 2010, several months before the iPad was released.
Intel and AMD know a thing or three about processors, and between the two, there's barely any room left over in the desktop market for competing players. In the mobile handset and tablet sectors, however, both chip giants play second fiddle to ARM, which rules the mobile roost with low power processors. The reason for this is simple: ARM processors are cheaper.
With the Windows 8 Developer Preview having been available for more than four months now, all eyes are on the beta or, as it could end up being called this time, the “consumer preview”. Even though no specific release date has been announced, the beta/consumer preview is scheduled to arrive sometime during February. But what about Windows 8 on ARM? Well, there finally seems to be some good news on that front as well. Hit the jump for more.
Qualcomm mobile systems-on-a-chip (SoC) power many of the smartphones and tablets on the market today, and that’s why the upcoming Snapdragon S4 part is such a bug deal. This chip has a complete core redesign using Qualcomm’s custom ARM-compatible Krait core and speedy Adreno 225 GPU. Some early graphical benchmarks have showed up online, and appear to confirm that this is going to be one fast chip.
While more of a steady smolder than a spectacular blaze when compared to the iPad, the Kindle Fire has shown that consumers are not averse to buying a non-iPad tablet as long as the price is right and the specs not too shabby. Amazon has literally lit up the tablet market, with a number of vendors now taking its lead in releasing affordable Android tablets. All the combustion metaphors aside, this surge in the ranks of decent budget tablets is only going to make the task that much harder for Wintel tablets, especially given Microsoft and Intel’s reluctance to subsidize their products. Everyone wants to know just how the duo would respond. Will the two giants try and enter into a price war with their rivals?
It’s been about 10 years since multicore processors burst on the scene, and we’re now seeing several innovative variations. At first, chip designers simply replicated CPU cores, filling their silicon with copies of the same brain. Now they are exploring alternatives—and these variations will change the way we benchmark performance and compare processors.
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.