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back to article ARM to wrestle quarter of laptop market from Intel

Give it four years and ARM-based processors will be found in almost a quarter of all notebooks sold. So predicts market watcher iHS iSuppli, which also reckons 7.6m ARM-based laptops will ship next year - three per cent of total number of notebooks shipped. That itself is a staggering statistic since there are none shipping now …

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Hmmm

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ARM will grab the most share in the low-cost laptop business where price is a more important purchase consideration than performance. So while Intel will lose market share by units, the cut into its share by revenue will be much smaller.

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Although in a couple of years the multiple core Arms chips are likely going to compete fairly well on performance as well.

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And that assumes Intel's continuing efforts to drive down the power consumption of its processors doesn't allow it to deliver chips that provide better performance at a comparable price and power draw as ARM offerings.

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Unlikely - Arm designed from ground up as low power. Intel, constrained by X86 have no such option. Arm more likely to catch Intel performance at low power, than for Intel to catch Arm in the low power high performance category.

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Pirate

RE: Hmmm

"....Intel, constrained by X86 have no such option...." Inetl have massive marketting muscle and have many vendors locked in. I would suggest you go read up on the VIA Cyrix/C3 processors to get an idea of how other low-powered competitors have failed to defeat Intel, and the PowerPC and Apple for how supposedly "superior" competitors have also failed.

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Anonymous Coward

makes you wonder whether

Intel would ever make a non-x86-compatible CPU targetted at mobile devices, notebooks and ...

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Been there

Intel have already been there, done that, sold the business to Marvell (with their ARM-based StrongARM/X-Scale processor line, used in a few mobile devices some years back)...

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@Matt - which vendors would those be?

The mobile manufactures? Nope. Ah, you mean the desktop. Intel/AMD may have a monopoly there, but not in the mobile space where 95% of kit is arm based. That's a lot of Arm experience that just gagging to move to new markets. And now we have Linux already and Windows soon on Arm.....mobile is where the money is being spent.;

Yes, Intel do have lots of marketing muscle, but so do Arm via their licensees - count the number of manufacturers making Arm based chips vs those making x86 chips....that's a LOT of Arm chips being made.

Come back in two years and review your post. I think you might be surprised.

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Boffin

RE: @Matt - which vendors would those be?

".....Come back in two years and review your post. I think you might be surprised." I doubt it. You see, I remember many waves of "mobile" devices that were all supposed to break the Intel giant, and they all faded away. I remember Psions (with ARM CPUs) that were supposed to make laptops redundant overnight - didn't happen. I've lost count of the number of times one fanboi or another told me that PowerPC Macs would kill both M$ and Intel - instead, Apple switched to Intel. Netbooks were supposed to kill both laptops and desktops and even smartphones (depending on which industry commentator you listened to, they were also going to solve World hunger and give you a BJ every morning). Only last week some deluded numpty was telling me his new Android phone meant he would never need a M$ machine again (funnilly, he was sitting at his desk typing away on his Win8 PC at the time). Intel have already lined up Atom to take on ARM, and whilst you may say that Atom is "heavier" and needs more power, it still makes for a very easy switch for notebook makers if they want to make a lower-powered system.

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Happy

If it was a Win8 machine...

How do you know it was'nt ARM anyway...?

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All about fast *enough*, and energy needs

Until fairly recently, people wanted as much CPU power as they could get, subject to price and battery-weight constraints. that's why Cyrix etc. never really got a hold. The game has now changed. An Intel Atom or an ARM CPU is just about fast enough for some notebook (netbook) needs.

In a couple of years' time, these low-wattage CPUs will have gained quite a bit more CPU clout, and will be fast enough for many notebook and desktop needs. More so, if Microsoft for once brings out a slimmer nimbler version of Windows to better serve mobile devices, rather than a still-more-bloated one. (If MS gets this wrong, Google will be the winner)

At which point battle will be joined. ARM has the advantage of intrinsically better crunch per Watt. Intel has the advantage of the canonical architecture, and in he short run, the best Silicon process technology.

It'll be fun watching.

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naw

@Matt Bryant

Thats a pretty narrow view - the PowerPC CPU was a just derivative of the IBM Power CPU, other derivatives of which are used in all the major games consoles, various auto engine management systems and the worlds leading (by volume and performance/capacity) Unix systems - Apple got a better $$$ deal from the intel volume CPU - thats all, they swapped CPUs once and they could easily do it again - thanks to the Transitive emulation SW - no one really noticed.

With cloud computing, CPU Architectures become increasingly irrelevant. Watch this space: there's a big slice of the pie that is waiting for ARM to pick up and lots of experienced developers who are familiar with the platform. CPUs scale up more successfully than down - especially now everything is Multi Core. As soon as the SW devs catch up with the HW, then a desktop / server / portable with a bank of low power CPUs have a lot of advantages...

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Facepalm

RE: If it was a Win8 machine...

"How do you know it was'nt ARM anyway...?" Sorry, that was a typo, should have read Win7. The desktop in question is an hp Z200 and actually has a Xeon CPU.

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FAIL

RE: @Matt Bryant

"Thats a pretty narrow view ....." M$ holds sway die to their continued deathgrip on the desktop and their increasng hold on servers. I see different stats every day, but the one I believe is the one that said something like 90% of PC buyers (and server buyers) just go for knwon brands, which means they are going with Intel's partners. For any competitor to "defeat" Intel it will have to produce either an option to the Wintel combo using Win8 that actually meets the same pricepoint and performance as the Wintel combo does to the vendors. If price was the only issue then AMD should have killed Intel already - they haven't, in fact you could say AMG are struggling.

".....they swapped CPUs once and they could easily do it again - thanks to the Transitive emulation SW......" Ah, but in the meantime, IBM bought and smothered Transitive, which means Apple can't just do it again.

".....With cloud computing, CPU Architectures become increasingly irrelevant....." Oh puh-lease! Go ask Joe McCommon in the street, and if he has any view on cloud it will be because he sees all these articles in the press about big websites being hacked. The popular conception is that cloud is insecure.

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Interesting, isn't it?

Smartbooks can't be build until Microsoft has Windows for them.

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Its not W8 that will drive ARM adoption

its the fact that MS will no longer have a 'valid' reason to threaten OEM's that try to build ARM.

Manufacturers will find they can sell their ARM laptops and still get MS discounts.

Others will be able to buy the same machines without the MS tax - so that should be a good 10-20% discount.

Any other form of licensing will be just too blatantly anti-competitive.

And at last we will have the portables that its been technically possible for 5 or 6 years now.

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Flame

Windows 8?

As long as we can wipe Windows 8 and put on Debian.

Ideally we have nice open graphics drivers too. Then it will be supported forever and a day, but you just know it's going to be binary blobs and problems from that straight away. The state of the ARM graphics driver situation has been holding back Beagle+Pandaboards (and family) for being useful media PCs. At least on PC, Nvidia put work into their horrid closed Linux drivers, and even then, they are still problematic. Yer stable kernel interface, yak yak (like Windows), but that does not give as good results as drivers open and in kernel so things are free to share code and evolve. The WiFi drivers story is the most recent story of this. I wish ARM graphics would get sorted. I want my ARM Linux media PC and laptop!

Without this being sorted, ARM Linux is going to be stunted. Unless you happy with a kernel version stuck at the time of release, or at best, the last date the manufacturer cared about their old product. Or maybe, if your lucky, it's just your X frozen in time.

People keep forgetting about this issue about ARM, but it's really important if you want your ARM Linux to be recent and any good at displaying things (and that's all normal users care about).

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Flame

Wipe Windows?

No thanks. I see no valid reason why I should be expected to pay the MS tax.

When ARM based kit starts coming out that shaves a significant portion off the asking price of intel based gear then the second biggest cost factor (after the LCD panel) is likely to be the OS license.

I do not want to spend up to a third of the purchase price of a cheap ARM netbook on an OS that I have no intention of using.

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Price/Performance/Power

From the article: "ARM will grab the most share in the low-cost laptop business where price is a more important purchase consideration than performance."

This statement is not well thought out. ARM's biggest advantage is performance per watt. It's performance is equal to or better than Intel's Atom at typically about a tenth of the power envelope. Intel likes to quote TDP figures which look good on paper, but what they fail to mention is that this doesn't include the rest of the motherboard components. ARM is a SoC (System-on-Chip) design, so there are no other motherboard components, so the TDP figure is much more meaningful in terms of assessing total power draw.

For comparison, a Dell Mini 1012 with an Atom N450 draws about 30W from the wall plug when running flat out, with the battery fully charged. The Toshiba AC100 (which is considerably faster, BTW) draws 6W flat out.

Anyway, to sum up, it's not about cost, the big advantage for laptops is the improved battery life, and thus the possibility of fitting a much smaller battery and thus making the laptop smaller, lighter and more elegant.

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None shipping???

From the article: "... staggering statistic since there are none shipping now unless you count old Toshiba AC100 smartbooks being flogged off on eBay."

This is simply not true. There are a number of smartbooks currently shipping. The best known and one of the better specced ones is probably the Genesi Efika MX Smartbook:

http://www.genesi-usa.com/products/smartbook

In production and actively supported. I have one, and with a few relatively minor hardware and software modifications it is actually an extremely nice and usable piece of kit:

http://www.altechnative.net/?p=152

http://www.altechnative.net/?p=210

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: None shipping???

I stand corrected, though I was thinking of companies of whom Reg readers are likely to have heard.

With all due respect to Genesi, I don't think their smartbook sales will change the iSuppli figures - which are really about notebooks not netbooks - this year.

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News to me too

Any links to users/enthusiasts sites? Would be curious as to how these are working for people and what they're using it for. Also curious about what other distros people are using on it.

One other point here, but I was looking at the Asus Transformer the other day - that's a really smart piece of kit. With the keyboard on there, that's pretty much a Smartbook IMHO.

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Genesi Efika Smartbook

Have a look at the Fedora ARM mailing list, Genesi is mentioned fairly regularly.

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Facepalm

Let's reignite the format wars

of the 80s/early 90s. Nice one.

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A skeptical dreamer

I want to believe this, but if we learned anything from the netbook debacle it was that small cheap computers are only economically viable (for the hardware vendors) if there is a version of desktop Windows to run on them (for the mass market) that doesn't completely suck on that hardware.

Windows 7 certainly sucks on low-end x86 hardware, but I'll be generous and reserve judgement until the ARM build of Windows 8 actually makes an appearance.

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Re : A skeptical dreamer

So all those Androids and iPads are waiting for a Windows to run on them to become usable ?

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Anonymous Coward

"if there is a version of desktop Windows to run"

Oh, is that what we learned ? Some might beg to differ.

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iphone/ipad/android have changed the landscape

Thanks to Mr. Jobs, consumers now accept non-MS Windows devices. Focus has shifted towards function and "looks".

In this "mobile" market, MS have much reduced clout to hold the manufacturers back, a factor that capped the success of earlier netbooks.

Cost of ARM v Intel and android/ios/linux v MS leaves higher margins on lower volumes for the manufacturers.

Apple and ARM have sidestepped the Wintel Cartel on our behalf.

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Pirate

RE: iphone/ipad/android have changed the landscape

".....Cost of ARM v Intel and android/ios/linux v MS leaves higher margins on lower volumes for the manufacturers....."

Yeah, right up until the point where M$ gets the patent lawyers out, adds a charge into every competing OS sale for bits like FAT patents (as is happening now with Android phone manufacturers), then cuts the price of their competing OS to offer customers "a real OS with support in comparison with a hobby OS with support from who?" M$ are not stupid, they've fought these wars before. Meanwhile, Intel will leverage their massive market advantage to keep prices low on their offerings and may reach for the patent gun too. Don't write off the behemoths just because you want it to happen, that kind of thinking got a lot of Sunshiners very depressed!

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Is the Asus Transformer not a smartbook?

Seems like one to me, though i don't use the keyboard much.

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