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Is ARM going to be a factor in the future of CPUs

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a c 146 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 5:51:38 PM

This month AMD announced that they were going to start concentrating on tablet and mobile processors. This comes a few months after they announced that they were stopping work on the 28nm chip and laying off 10% of their work force. Say what you want but it seems like AMD is falling like a boulder from 30 thousand feet. So do you think ARM will start to be a major competitor in the CPU market in the next 5 to 10 years. Even though they're not a really known company they don't seem to be doing to bad.
In 2010, over 6.1 billion ARM-based chips were sold, with a 55% unit increase from 2009. Here are ARM-based products' market share in different market segments in 2010: over 95% in smartphone market; 10% in mobile computers; 35% in digital TVs and set-top boxes; however, ARM did not have any market share in servers and desktop PCs. In 2011, ARM's total revenue was $192 million in the third quarter, an increase of 22% compared to the same quarter of 2010, due to 28 new chip licensing revenue. ARM Holdings' strategy is by 2015 to have ARM-based processors in more than half of all tablets, mini-notebooks and other mobile PCs sold.

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a c 83 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 6:14:56 PM

ARM chips are rapidly growing more powerful, and Win8 will run on the ARM architecture along with the majority of new microsoft software. Who knows if they'll ever steal the spot light in PCs or Servers, but they'll get a good foot hold into laptops.

As to your comment about AMD announcing they were stopping work on 32nm chips what are you talking about? All of AMDs current processors are already manufactured on 32nm, they are in the process of phasing out and ending production of 45nm.
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a c 142 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 6:16:15 PM

There is no doubt that ARM has a place in the market and the share of that market (compared to X86) will increase. However, as ARM really lacks the high performance capacity that the X86 world resides in, it will never (not likely anyway) supplant the X86's performance dominance.
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a c 146 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 6:30:17 PM

loneninja said:
ARM chips are rapidly growing more powerful, and Win8 will run on the ARM architecture along with the majority of new microsoft software. Who knows if they'll ever steal the spot light in PCs or Servers, but they'll get a good foot hold into laptops.

As to your comment about AMD announcing they were stopping work on 32nm chips what are you talking about? All of AMDs current processors are already manufactured on 32nm, they are in the process of phasing out and ending production of 45nm.


Oops I know. Stupid Ipad is a pain to type on. Weren't they working on a 22nm chip but that was another failure and they stopped work on it?

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a c 146 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 6:38:40 PM

COLGeek said:
There is no doubt that ARM has a place in the market and the share of that market (compared to X86) will increase. However, as ARM really lacks the high performance capacity that the X86 world resides in, it will never (not likely anyway) supplant the X86's performance dominance.


But if they become a major factor in the future who's to say they can't get a license and get into the X86 world. If they become bigger they'll make more money and be able to expand into other fields.
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a c 142 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 6:46:15 PM

rds1220 said:
But if they become a major factor in the future who's to say they can't get a license and get into the X86 world. If they become bigger they'll make more money and be able to expand into other fields.

Undoubtedly true, but ARM is really meant for the low power consumption market and will never take over the high performance desktop and server market. Laptops, tablets, smart phones, etc is where ARM may eventually dominate.
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a c 103 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 7:11:57 PM

If AMD had any sense, they would buy ARM, leave it running as an independent company, while using its IP to enhance its x86 family of cpu's.

Imagine the fun you could have with a powerful but low energy quad ARM with ATI graphics.
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a c 83 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 7:17:37 PM

das_stig said:
If AMD had any sense, they would buy ARM, leave it running as an independent company, while using its IP to enhance its x86 family of cpu's.

Imagine the fun you could have with a powerful but low energy quad ARM with ATI graphics.


First they need money to buy it. :lol: 


To the OP, AMD cancelled the 28nm shrink of their 40nm Bobcat core, that is their lowend Atom competitor.
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a c 146 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 7:20:05 PM

loneninja said:
First they need money to buy it. :lol: 


To the OP, AMD cancelled the 28nm shrink of their 40nm Bobcat core, that is their lowend Atom competitor.


Yea that would help. Of course if they had the money we probably wouldn't be talking about any of this because they wouldn't be in the position they are in.
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a b à CPUs
December 15, 2011 7:43:10 PM

ARM already is a factor in the CPU market. ARM chips are getting steadily more powerful and have an architectural advantage over Intel as regards power per watt. To some extent, Intel can offset this with their process technology.

As ARM CPUs and the devices that use them get steadily more powerful, they will be well poised to grab a slice of the mainstream market. Windows 8 and other "full featured" operating systems will act as a strong catalyst for this trend. But we're not there yet and there's some way to go. Current devices such as the iPad and Android tablets are certainly not full featured, and are in no way suitable replacements for a pc or mac, for most people.

Intel will have to compete with ARM CPUs to avoid losing market share. They will also face pressure to maintain enough of a performance delta between the mainstream and performance segments to give people reason to continue buying them.

What I really worry about is the high end. Performance enthusiasts like a fast rate of innovation and following the failure of Bulldozer, I just don't see that Intel needs to push the envelope in this segment.
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a c 146 à CPUs
December 15, 2011 10:04:51 PM

So IF (Im not saying they will but if) AMD went under is there any company big enough and rich enough to step into AMD's place and compete with Intel?
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a b à CPUs
December 15, 2011 10:29:25 PM

rds1220 said:
So IF (Im not saying they will but if) AMD went under is there any company big enough and rich enough to step into AMD's place and compete with Intel?


Personal view, I'd say no. Intel have taken x86 (it's inherent limitations and all) to a point where no company can hope to compete. There are huge economies of scale in chip design and manufacturing, and intel leads in both.

It is interesting that in the last 12 years, there have been only two phases when intel had serious competition at the high end. In the first phase, the Athlon was competing against a design well past it's sell by date in the form of the pentium 3. In the second phase, the Athlon 64 was competing against a fundamentally misconceived architecture in the pentium 4. In other words, the competition requires intel to screw up if it is to have a chance.

I'd say the only real hope to make intel's pips squeak at the high end is a completely different architecture. But that faces substantial barriers to entry.
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a c 146 à CPUs
December 16, 2011 2:42:49 AM

If there was any chance of someone stepping up I thought maybe it would be ARM but I guess not. There aren't really to many other X86 companies out there. The only other one I can think of that maybe could do something is VIA. ARM seems bigger and more powerful then Via but if Arm can't compete with Intel then I doubt Via will either.
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a b à CPUs
December 16, 2011 3:36:15 AM

rds1220 said:
If there was any chance of someone stepping up I thought maybe it would be ARM but I guess not. There aren't really to many other X86 companies out there. The only other one I can think of that maybe could do something is VIA. ARM seems bigger and more powerful then Via but if Arm can't compete with Intel then I doubt Via will either.


Doesn't really make sense though to talk about ARM taking the fight to Intel. Arm chips are not x86 and depend on an entirely different ecosystem. Also, ARM don't make chips, they develop the technology and license it to manufacturers. Nvidia, Apple, TI, Samsung, Qualcomm and many others all make chips based on ARM technology.

They already do have a major impact on the market and this can only be expected to increase as their chips get more powerful and the devices more functional. So in that sense we can expect real and meaningful competition at the low end of the performance spectrum. My main worry is the high end, where I don't predict much competition in the foreseeable future. To be honest though, that is not ARM's market. They are not set up to address that segment and it would make no sense for them to try.

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a c 146 à CPUs
December 16, 2011 3:58:12 AM

Well someone is going to have to step up or the goverment will break up Intel with Antitrust laws.
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a b à CPUs
December 16, 2011 11:07:03 AM

As I said, there is and will continue to be competition with intel, just not at the high end. This is too small a market, and too much of a niche to justify anti trust action. Also, there has to be evidence of abuse before any action is taken under anti trust law. By government, which government do you mean? The US presumably. If there's anti trust action against intel, I'd say it is far more likely to come from Europe or Asia.
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December 16, 2011 3:03:04 PM

bwrlane said:
ARM already is a factor in the CPU market. ARM chips are getting steadily more powerful and have an architectural advantage over Intel as regards power per watt. To some extent, Intel can offset this with their process technology.

As ARM CPUs and the devices that use them get steadily more powerful, they will be well poised to grab a slice of the mainstream market. Windows 8 and other "full featured" operating systems will act as a strong catalyst for this trend. But we're not there yet and there's some way to go. Current devices such as the iPad and Android tablets are certainly not full featured, and are in no way suitable replacements for a pc or mac, for most people.

Intel will have to compete with ARM CPUs to avoid losing market share. They will also face pressure to maintain enough of a performance delta between the mainstream and performance segments to give people reason to continue buying them.

What I really worry about is the high end. Performance enthusiasts like a fast rate of innovation and following the failure of Bulldozer, I just don't see that Intel needs to push the envelope in this segment.


bwrlane said:
Personal view, I'd say no. Intel have taken x86 (it's inherent limitations and all) to a point where no company can hope to compete. There are huge economies of scale in chip design and manufacturing, and intel leads in both.

It is interesting that in the last 12 years, there have been only two phases when intel had serious competition at the high end. In the first phase, the Athlon was competing against a design well past it's sell by date in the form of the pentium 3. In the second phase, the Athlon 64 was competing against a fundamentally misconceived architecture in the pentium 4. In other words, the competition requires intel to screw up if it is to have a chance.

I'd say the only real hope to make intel's pips squeak at the high end is a completely different architecture. But that faces substantial barriers to entry.


bwrlane said:
Doesn't really make sense though to talk about ARM taking the fight to Intel. Arm chips are not x86 and depend on an entirely different ecosystem. Also, ARM don't make chips, they develop the technology and license it to manufacturers. Nvidia, Apple, TI, Samsung, Qualcomm and many others all make chips based on ARM technology.

They already do have a major impact on the market and this can only be expected to increase as their chips get more powerful and the devices more functional. So in that sense we can expect real and meaningful competition at the low end of the performance spectrum. My main worry is the high end, where I don't predict much competition in the foreseeable future. To be honest though, that is not ARM's market. They are not set up to address that segment and it would make no sense for them to try.


bwrlane said:
As I said, there is and will continue to be competition with intel, just not at the high end. This is too small a market, and too much of a niche to justify anti trust action. Also, there has to be evidence of abuse before any action is taken under anti trust law. By government, which government do you mean? The US presumably. If there's anti trust action against intel, I'd say it is far more likely to come from Europe or Asia.


Outstanding series of posts in this thread, I look forward to your future contributions on other threads. :) 

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December 16, 2011 3:31:34 PM

ARM is targeted at mobile devices and tablets they aren't necessarily less powerful but they dont have advanced graphics

they also have a smaller size

They are competing with Intel Atom :hello: 

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a b à CPUs
December 16, 2011 3:58:02 PM

Chad Boga said:
Outstanding series of posts in this thread, I look forward to your future contributions on other threads. :) 


:)  Thanks.

Also let's not forget that AMD is a genuinely world class chip design and manufacturer. They have some outstanding products in several market niches. In the mainstream and low power desktop and laptop segments, they are fully competitive with intel. Likewise in the server segment.

The merger with ATI is also beginning to bear fruit, as they're starting to produce some really interesting fusion products. This is an area where AMD has a real advantage over its main competitor on the gpu side (nVidia) and on the CPU side (Intel). We can expect to see them focus their efforts on exploiting this advantage. As such, AMD will probably be a major player for a while to come in the mainstream and low-end-of-the-performance laptop segment.

It's just the high performance desktop segment that intel has all to itself. Unfortunately that's the one that is most important to me and probably other thg readers. But it's such a small segment that it will neither make nor break intel or its competitors.

What I really hope though is that intel will continue to see it as important enough of a market to find it worthwhile developing excellent products.
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a c 188 à CPUs
December 16, 2011 4:24:38 PM

This is my personal view. ARM is already shaping the CPU market but I don't know how much they are going to be able to shape it in the long term? That I don’t know but the power saving of ARM is something that is already shaping the processor market.

Christian Wood
Intel Enthusiast Team
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December 16, 2011 6:06:29 PM

Nvidia has all ready said there going after server chips. Whats going to stop them from doing server chips for a couple years and than coming over to the home side of the pc world. I bet nvidia will become a player. Nvidia and intel are always fighting and nvidia knew for years that amd was not right for them. Also nvidia already has cell phones and tablets cpu gpu lines.
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a b à CPUs
December 16, 2011 7:22:21 PM

Oh nvidia are certainly interested in the pc market, but not x86. They don't have a licence to make x86 chips, and they have recently gone on record saying they're not interested in getting one.

Nvidia's CPU play will be entirely based on making ARM chips, as they already do. To succeed, however, they require a grown up OS that runs on ARM technology, to become mainstream. Windows 8 is probably the best chance of that happening. Maybe then Apple will be forced by competition to remove the silly restrictions on the iPad that currently prevent it being a grown up computer.
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December 16, 2011 7:28:55 PM

Most tasks people use computers for just aren't that intensive on modern hardware (regular users). Obviously for surfing the net or watching movies you just don't need that much processing power.

Arm cpu's are pathetically cheap, and almost offer enough power for most tasks. I can only imagine cheap small replacements for a lot of people using ARM, Bobcat, and Atom processors. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but no way will Intel be able to charge what their used when ARM cpu's cost like $15.
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December 16, 2011 10:21:32 PM

I love intel they are a bad ass company but i have always been a amd guy and if they go im going to wait with my amd 8120 until nvidia gets some thing going. If that means ARM and Nvidia have to make something together i will wait. Every time i thought about leaving nvidia and moving to intel and ati graphics it has been a bad idea. My only intel chip i have ever got was bad out of the box. They might be king but i can get my frames from other places. ARM has been doing some cool new chips but If you think about what a 15 dollar chip can do what do you think a 200.00 dollar Arm chip will do and that with a nvidia chip next to it its endless.
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