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ARM in more Netbooks than Atom by 2012

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 32 comments

Can ARM displace Intel's Atom as the netbook king?

According to analysts, netbooks powered by ARM processors will take over market share majority from Intel sometime in 2012.

Since Asus introduced the first Eee PCs at Computex in 2007, netbooks have taken the personal computer market by storm. At the heart of many of those netbooks is an Atom CPU from processor giant Intel. While its majority market share has yet to face any serious contenders, some believe that the Atom's dominance won't last forever.

According to Dr. Robert Castellano, an analyst with The Information Network, ARM's Cortex-A9 multicore processor could be a serious challenger to the Atom. Specifically, Castellano believes a 2012 Cortex-A9 netbook with a Linux-based operating system could sell at a price point that no Intel/Windows netbook could match. The Cortex-A9 is currently available, but Castellano says 2012 is the magic number because of his predicted price points for the Cortex-A9 and Atom in that year. Castellano also accounts for cloud computing in his numbers, saying cloud technology in 2012 would essentially eliminate the need for (most) local storage in netbooks.

While competition against Intel in the netbook category is sure to ramp up, not everyone agrees with Castellano's assessments. Mario Morales, an analyst with IDC, says he still sees Intel on top of the netbook market several years down the line. "You don't want to burn Intel," said Morales to EETimes. "If I am an AsusTek, I need to get processors for my other product lines from them."

ARM may not be the kryptonite to Intel's Atom, but several companies are poised to take market share from the Santa Clara company. VIA has carved out a nice piece of the market for itself already, while Nvidia's Tegra platform will eventually make its way into netbooks. Furthermore, we have yet to see any serious netbook activity from AMD, Intel's biggest rival. If we ever see a true netbook offering from AMD, it could pose a massive threat to Intel's market share in the netbook sector.

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  • 0 Hide
    scarpa , March 12, 2009 9:45 PM
    AMD join the netbook market right now!!!
  • -2 Hide
    jacobdrj , March 12, 2009 9:59 PM
    Is the ARM proc x86?
  • 2 Hide
    deltatux , March 12, 2009 10:14 PM
    The ARM processors are of their own hardware architecture. However, knowing how power efficient ARM processors are, I'm sure you'd have a netbook that lasts at least 7, 8 or up to 10 hours on a single battery charge.


    I'd love to see ARM overtake x86. They already dominate the cell phone industry so why not?
  • Display all 32 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    tipoo , March 12, 2009 10:35 PM
    jacobdrjIs the ARM proc x86?



    No, ARM is a different hardware architecture than x86.

    Netbooks with ARMs would be epic. They would lower price substantially, and battery life could be amazing.
  • 1 Hide
    jacobdrj , March 12, 2009 10:36 PM
    IIRC, they are power efficiant, but at the cost of useable speed. The atom is so populare because it is not only inexpensive, but it can easily run x86 based apps.
  • 1 Hide
    tipoo , March 12, 2009 10:44 PM
    jacobdrjIIRC, they are power efficiant, but at the cost of useable speed. The atom is so populare because it is not only inexpensive, but it can easily run x86 based apps.



    Meh, the power savings and low cost are what i am interested in. thats the point of netbooks, after all.

    100 bucks for a cheap netbook would be fantastic, even if the processor was far from the performance of even the Atom.
  • -1 Hide
    DeadlyPredator , March 12, 2009 11:07 PM
    ARM is crap, unless you wan't it in a router, dvd player or NAS... it's absolutly not x86 compatible so it will only work on a custom / ARM compatible linux OS or applications. Yes, you will pay 100 bucks for it!!! But you will only play mp3 with it, (maybe you will have a 4 gb ssd to store few of them...) and barely surf on the internet, as flash on a ARM processor is not very nice or have no more than 2 application active at the same time. For 100$... you will have 1/15 the computing power of a ION platform (x86!!) notebook at maximum 400-600$ and i'm not talking about graphics...
  • 2 Hide
    descendency , March 12, 2009 11:37 PM
    No 8086 = no hope. The 8086 architecture is popular for a reason. You realize how many people panic when facebook is updated, imagine having to learn an entirely different OS and program set...

    I wish them well for competition sake, but it isn't going to happen.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , March 12, 2009 11:48 PM
    There are netbook like devices with ARM already, they are called PDAs. The nokia N770/800/810 are good example of something that is like a netbook.

    ARM is really making inroads, gone are the days of 200mhz processors typically seen in PDAs and similar devices. Now there are ARMs running 1 ghz plus. The TI OMAP3 is a great example of an ARM that is powerful enough to be used in a netbook and it can play HD videos.

    ARM and linux are intertwined, no doubt the biggest factor in linux gaining popularity is ARM, and ARM making inroads is because of linux. These two make a potent combo, perhaps deadly enough to kill the atom + windows in the netbook market. Once netbooks have fallen to ARM+linux, it is only logical to conclude that the desktop market is up for grabs as well.
  • 2 Hide
    Hatecrime69 , March 13, 2009 1:23 AM
    while the idea of somebody taking intel down a notch is good, I still can't help but think that the linux os is plain and simple, just too complex for the average person witch really hurts arm's possibilities since it's not going to do windows any time soon and apple is being..well, apple with osx (probably the most user friendly nix/bsd variant out there)

    For amd though, I personally don't mind them not trying to do the netbook market, with their troubles it's probably best not to spread yourself out too much just to match what intel offers (an amd chipset/igp in a netbook would be killer though)
  • 0 Hide
    tipoo , March 13, 2009 12:02 PM
    deadlypredatorARM is crap, unless you wan't it in a router, dvd player or NAS... it's absolutly not x86 compatible so it will only work on a custom / ARM compatible linux OS or applications. Yes, you will pay 100 bucks for it!!! But you will only play mp3 with it, (maybe you will have a 4 gb ssd to store few of them...) and barely surf on the internet, as flash on a ARM processor is not very nice or have no more than 2 application active at the same time. For 100$... you will have 1/15 the computing power of a ION platform (x86!!) notebook at maximum 400-600$ and i'm not talking about graphics...



    I really wouldn't mind paying a one-time 100 dollar fee for a netbook with an ARM, even if the internet is slow on it. its still better than Smartphones, which often cost much more.
  • 1 Hide
    Master Exon , March 13, 2009 12:36 PM
    This article would make a lot more sense with a technical description of why ARM is different, and then a performance comparison. (2 systems running Ubuntu, one atom, one ARM)
  • 0 Hide
    tipoo , March 13, 2009 12:40 PM
    Master ExonThis article would make a lot more sense with a technical description of why ARM is different, and then a performance comparison. (2 systems running Ubuntu, one atom, one ARM)



    That wouldn't make sence, the two would have to be coded differently so any comparisons would be irrelevant to true performance.
  • 0 Hide
    JimmiG , March 13, 2009 1:08 PM
    For me, the great thing about a netbook is being able to run XP and all my standard applications on such a small, inexpensive device. I would never buy a netbook that doesn't run x86 code. It would be like an oversized, overclocked smartphone, and not much like a computer at all. If I wanted to run proprietary, non-x86 applications and OS, I'd just get an iPhone.
  • -1 Hide
    lejay , March 13, 2009 2:03 PM
    Unlike x86, ARM is not x86, it is ARM.
  • 0 Hide
    hairycat101 , March 13, 2009 2:04 PM
    tipooThat wouldn't make sence, the two would have to be coded differently so any comparisons would be irrelevant to true performance.


    I think the fact that they are coded differently is exactly why a head to head comparason would be useful. I'd love to see how much of a performance hit we would be taking for running an ARM processor.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 13, 2009 2:14 PM
    Via is at the moment your only alternative, and that 100% fully from Windows 7.
    ARM is good for basic linux OS, but even Ubuntu starts to become pretty loaded.
    ARM will probably do best in os'es like the EEEPC's first Xandros version, and other easy desktop versions where you have a couple of tabs and program-icons on the screen.
  • 1 Hide
    DeadlyPredator , March 13, 2009 2:41 PM
    I tried to repair a computer with a via samuel2 CPU... it was horrible. Can't get a web cam working with msn messenger and playing a mp3 at the same time. But the current via processors looks far more capable than before, I would prefer to see them in a netbook instead of a ARM.
  • 0 Hide
    garydale , March 13, 2009 4:02 PM
    deadlypredatorARM is crap, unless you wan't it in a router, dvd player or NAS... it's absolutly not x86 compatible so it will only work on a custom / ARM compatible linux OS or applications. Yes, you will pay 100 bucks for it!!! But you will only play mp3 with it, (maybe you will have a 4 gb ssd to store few of them...) and barely surf on the internet, as flash on a ARM processor is not very nice or have no more than 2 application active at the same time. For 100$... you will have 1/15 the computing power of a ION platform (x86!!) notebook at maximum 400-600$ and i'm not talking about graphics...


    ARM is a full-featured processor that can run modern apps reasonably well. It's fully supported by Debian so you can run the latest (v5/Lenny) version on it. While Adobe has been pitiful in getting 64bit versions of their products (Reader, Flash, etc.) out, that just shows why Open Source is important. There are Open Source alternatives to Adobe's products.
  • 3 Hide
    garydale , March 13, 2009 4:10 PM
    Hatecrime69while the idea of somebody taking intel down a notch is good, I still can't help but think that the linux os is plain and simple, just too complex for the average person witch really hurts arm's possibilities since it's not going to do windows any time soon and apple is being..well, apple with osx (probably the most user friendly nix/bsd variant out there)For amd though, I personally don't mind them not trying to do the netbook market, with their troubles it's probably best not to spread yourself out too much just to match what intel offers (an amd chipset/igp in a netbook would be killer though)


    Too complex? Actually it's Windows that fits the "too complex" appellation. The reason people think that Linux is "complex" is threefold. Firstly, they usually have to install it themselves. Secondly, it's not "Windows" so they're not used to it. Finally, it's not something they can usually talk to friends about fixing. It's "community" is different.

    Moreover Linux installers are better than Windows in that they try to accommodate having another OS on the machine. This gets you into issues like partitioning. Buy a computer Linux pre-installed and you eliminate these problems.

    And self-help groups like the Ubuntu community forums help with lots of problems should they arise.

    Personally, I find having to run multiple malware defenders on a Windows box a real pain in the butt. Linux's better security model and the ease of installing new software and updates makes it the better choice for most users.
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