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Controls/MCUs??

x86, ARM processors battle it out in UMD

Posted: 24 Dec 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:x86 ARM? processor war? ultamobile device?

The processor vendors supplying chips for ultramobile devices (UMDs) are playing a pivotal role in how this market is shaping up. x86-based processors are well entrenched in the PC world, and ARM-based processors are well entrenched in the handset world. Since UMDs sit right between the PCs and handsets in terms of power, size and function, x86-based and ARM-based processors will compete in the UMD space and are already fighting it out, starting with marketing wars.

"x86-based processor vendors are in a very good position in the near term as far as product wins and market share are concerned," said Philip Solis, ABI Research principal analyst. "However, as mobile Internet devices (MIDs) start to surpass netbooks in shipment volumes, ARM-based solutions will be in a better position."

Processors based on the x86 architecture (available from vendors such as Via Technologies and Intel) hold a key advantage in that they are compatible with all x86-based applicationsthe same PC applications most people use today.

Low power advantage
Since they evolved in a more portable and mobile device world, ARM-based processors have always excelled at low power consumption. For devices such as MIDs that may be used very heavily all day or may need to last for days without recharging, ARM-based processors hold the advantage.

The x86 vendors will have to make significant advancements in terms of power consumption while executing instructions to put up a better fight across the whole UMD space, while ARM is working with software vendors to ensure that as they develop processor architectures and instruction sets, the latest versions of software are compatible.

Solis concludes: "The future shape of this market will be determined by engineering success on the x86 side vs. business success on the ARM side."

A study from ABI Research, "Mobile Internet Devices" analyzes the drivers and barriers for UMDs across the ecosystem. It examines the issues that will shape this market, including the contest between x86-based processors and ARM-based processors, distribution and subsidization, device definitions, and the effect of cellular voice-enabled MIDs.





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