Ahad, 1 Ogos 2010

The hard battle between Intel and AMD seems to be long way to go. While Intel clearly has the upper hand in client processors and AMD is playing catch-up, there is another battle brewing for PC processors, particularly in notebooks. Here, we will discuss about the battle for the “secondary” processor and how this battle will not pit Intel against AMD, but rather, x86 architecture against ARM. And it’s not looking good for x86.

Dell and lenovo have come out with the “instant” laptop, which has capability to instantly access mail, calender, web without full boot up of the machine. They run a version of the Firefox browser for Web surfing and provides direct connection to Exchange, GroupWise or IMAP/POP3 e-mail systems through direct memory access. Also included is a dedicated document viewer for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files, dedicated Wi-Fi and a VPN for secure connectivity. In essence, what Dell has done with Latitude ON is provide an embedded “smartphone-lite” device that uses the main screen, keyboard, power and memory systems.

What makes the Dell and Lenovo approach interesting is that first, they utilize low-cost, low-power, ARM-based chips adapted from the smartphone industry. Second, they provide dedicated-function processing. And third, each subsystem is capable of being functionally extended, possibly even by third parties through a future API to include additional convenience and protection capabilities.

It is safe to assume that other manufacturers will follow suit and provide coprocessor subsystem in business and higher-end consumer machines—particularly as prices for ARM chips continue to fall. It is also highly likely that additional functionality will be added over time.

Finally, it is apparent that neither Windows nor x86 will be the preferred platforms utilized by these coprocessor subsystems—at least until x86 can match the low cost and low power of ARM (potentially with future Atom chips).

The bottom line: With the potential of one or more coprocessors per PC, ARM has a lucrative path in which to infiltrate the PC market—a market it has never impacted. While it’s unlikely that ARM will displace x86 for the core processor anytime soon, it nevertheless gives ARM a large potential market of many millions of units—a fact not lost on ARM licensees (for example, Texas Instruments, Freescale, Qualcomm and Samsung).

However, the coprocessing subsystems potentially offer another point of machine failure and/or instability, especially in corporate settings where consistency, security and device management is critical. Companies should be careful when and how to deploy these coprocessor-enabled systems until they prove their worth.

source : www.eweek.com