Intel Will Soar Above ARM Holdings With New Microarchitecture
In 2006, Intel (INTC) threw in the towel on its NetBurst family of processors. Fraught with energy consumption and heat problems, the ill-fated microarchitecture opened the door to renewed competition from rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). To quell this threat, Intel created the tick-tock model, which coalesced into a full-scale microchip war. The breakneck pace of die shrinks and new microarchitecture releases bled Advanced Micro dry.
Intel may finally face a true test to its monolithic business model. ARM Holdings is a small, flexible firm with potent partners. An agreement with Microsoft (MSFT) will bring Windows 8 compatibility to ARM Holdings' architecture. The latest operating system will find widespread adoption in smartphones and tablets. By contrast, strong sales of Windows 7 will likely limit Windows 8's penetration into the PC market. The next generation of Windows-based smartphones and tablets promises to be a windfall for ARM Holdings, while PC sales will likely remain flat.
On the flip side, ARM Holdings has just $45 million in cash yet intends to take down Intel, a firm that repeatedly outspends the competition to stay on top. Earlier this year, CEO Warren East stated that ARM Holdings is targeting 40% of the mobile PC market by 2014, a lofty goal to say the least.
Yes, Warren East is predicting his company will double Advanced Micro's current market share in just three years.
Excuse me if I sound skeptical, but tech companies have a tendency of promising more than they can deliver. Intel is prepared to outspend and undercut ARM Holdings at every turn, just like it did with Advanced Micro. Furthermore, Intel controls the PC market with its ubiquitous x86 architecture and widely deployed interfaces such as USB, SATA, and PCI-Express.
ARMH is fabless. Essentially they are at the mercy of fabs that can produce designs. INTC is on the cutting edge of fabrication and is working on 14NM nodes for mobile that will absolutely crush anything ARMH can offer. I would not bet against INTC. They have the cash and distro in place to outperform over the long run.
"Clover Trail, Intel's newly announced 'Linux proof' processor, is already a dead end for technical and business reasons. Clover Trail is said to include power-management that will make the Atom run longer under Windows. It had better, since Atom currently provides about 1/4 of the power efficiency of the ARM processors that run IOS and Android devices. The details of Clover Trail's power management won't be disclosed to Linux developers. Power management isn't magic, though - there is no great secret about shutting down hardware that isn't being used. Other CPU manufacturers, and Intel itself, will provide similar power management to Linux on later chips. Why has Atom lagged so far behind ARM? Simply because ARM requires fewer transistors to do the same job. Atom and most of Intel's line are based on the ia32 architecture. ia32 dates back to the 1970's and is the last bastion of CISC, Complex Instruction Set Computing. ARM and all later architectures are based on RISC, Reduced Instruction Set Computing, which provides very simple instructions that run fast. RISC chips allow the language compilers to perform complex tasks by combining instructions, rather than by selecting a single complex instruction that's "perfect" for the task. As it happens, compilers are more likely to get optimal performance with a number of RISC instructions than with a few big instructions that are over-generalized or don't do exactly what the compiler requires. RISC instructions are much more likely to run in a single processor cycle than complex ones. So, ARM ends up being several times more efficient than Intel."