Most importantly, though, ARM must be painfully aware that Intel has matched the latest and greatest Cortex-A9 with its first ever attempt at a real SoC, and at 32nm no less. While competition from Samsung and Qualcomm are pushing out with limited supplies of 32/28nm chips, Intel has already announced that it will be shrinking its ultra-low-power Atom chips to 22nm in 2013 and 14nm in 2014. Say what you like about ARM chips being inherently more efficient, but the shift to 22nm and 14nm will mean that Intel’s ULV chips simply cannot be beaten. ARM can innovate until its blue in the face, but at the end of the day it will be impossible to compete with Intel’s far superior manufacturing process — and heck, on top of all that, it’s not like Intel doesn’t know how to make a good CPU.
In short, ARM & Co. are in a very unenviable position. Intel now has a beachhead and its terrifying, industry-clobbering, 60%-gross-margin wehrmacht will surely follow. You might only see a few Medfield-powered scouts in 2012, but by the time the 22nm Silvermont tanks roll around in 2013 and x86 is better than ARM across the board, expect to see dozens of Santa Clara design wins.
Unless TSMC, IBM, GloFo, or Samsung uncover some kind of ancient scroll that details the magic of 14nm, come 2014 and the Airmont core, I wouldn’t be surprised if Intel completely dominates the Android smartphone market. Following the Motorola partnership, I would also be very surprised if Microsoft and Apple aren’t working on x86 versions of their mobile operating systems, too.