Re: The waste of talent
" the ISA's only impact on performance is instruction decode, and instruction decode is about 1% of die area"
Careful Ken. You don't think the code density of the ISA has any impact?
I don't know enough about x86 to comment about x86 vs ARM in this respect, but when comparing ARM vs classic RISC, ARM code tends to be smaller. This means more of the application fits in ARM cache, and you get more performance per MB/s of instruction memory (main or cache) bandwidth. And for a given memory size (ie cost) you can fit more "stuff" in on ARM. More performance per MB/s means a slower clock on ARM gets the same performance as a faster clock on a classic RISC, which in turn may mean cheaper batteries or longer battery life or...
The reasons ARM code is smaller include the Thumb instruction subset and the general predicated instruction capability.
ISA *does* matter in cost/size/power-constrained embedded systems, and it may well matter more than you seem to think in mobile phones.
The Coremark benchmark (sourcecode freely available) might shed some light on stuff like this. Couldn't see any recent Intel results last time I looked. Anyone else seen any?
"What matters is where you choose to invest your development budget. Intel are now putting theirs into mobile."
Intel have repeatedly put their development budget outside the world of x86 IT for many years, and repeatedly failed. Maybe they'll find a winner this time, after all it is closer to their traditional x86 comfort zone than (say) iAPX432, i860, i2O, IA64, embedded graphics, wImax (add your own to the list of Intel's non-x86 flops).