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Intel: No, We're Not Using Arm To Create CPUs

By - Source: Reuters | B 25 comments

Why would Intel even think of using ARM's technology when it already has a plans to dominate the mobile sector with its x86 architecture?

Evidently there's some silly notion that Intel plans to use ARM's technology to build mobile processors despite anything the company may have previously said to shoot down such an idea. Sigh.

The main reason behind the speculation of an Intel/ARM marriage is that, according to experts, Intel's x86 architecture, originally intended for the PC platform, will be "inherently tough" to adapt into mobile chips. Thus, using ARM's architecture would be a better, quicker option given that Intel is a late-comer to the mobile sector.

But as previously specified, Intel has already nuked any such notion, and was followed up by Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini who had to reiterate the company's non-ARM stance during a Q&A at the company's annual investor event in Santa Clara, California. "There's no advantage going in there, we'd be beholden to someone else, beholden to ARM," Otellini told investors on Tuesday. "We'd pay royalties to them so it would lower the overall profits. I think we can do a better."

"So the short answer is, No, we have no intention of using our own license to build ARM processors," Otellini said. Intel even has a license to use ARM's technology, but doesn't plan to use it, he added.

Last month Intel revealed its Oak Trail SoC for tablets and smartphones set to hit the market sometime this month. The chip promises to support 1080p video decoding, HDMI, faster Internet browsing and longer battery life "without sacrificing performance." Oak Trail be included in 35 upcoming tablets and hybrid computers from Fujitsu, Lenovo and other manufacturers.

February brought reports that its 32-nm Medfield chip, designed for low-end smartphones, was currently in production. It was speculated that Medfield-equipped devices would launch by the end of the year, but Intel now says that the new Medfield-based devices won't go on sale until early next year.

"With Medfield we're in the power envelope for phones ... We're working with several customers and we start to expect to see the revenue ramp toward the end of this year," Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith said.

Earlier this month, Intel revealed transistors called Tri-Gate that use a three-dimensional structure. Slated to go into high-volume manufacturing at the 22-nm node for the Ivy Bridge platform, Intel is betting that the new tech will give it a significant advantage over companies like Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments that are licensing ARM's technology.

Raymond James analyst Hans Mosesmann said process technology is just one important element of winning for Intel. "But it is a major advantage and one we suspect the Street is underestimating," he said.

Tuesday Otellini also revealed that Intel plans to "double the pace of Moore's Law" by shipping three Atom SoCs over the next three years: the 32-nm "Saltwell," the 22-nm "Silvermont" and the 14-nm "Airmont." He also said Atom would scale in terms of power consumption, extending down into cell phones and up into other devices such as specialized servers. By combining these with low-power Core Ivy Bridge CPUs, Intel believes it will be well equipped to compete with ARM and others in terms of sheer computing power.

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  • 0 Hide
    memadmax , May 17, 2011 10:39 PM
    "I think we can do a better."

    This is a huge hint: They more than likely got something big cooking up and obviously they aren't gonna give away what they are doing.
  • 1 Hide
    burnley14 , May 17, 2011 10:51 PM
    Intel is an unstoppable force in the CPU industry. Just give it a couple years and they will be the dominant player in whatever they are pursuing (in this case, phones and tablets).
  • 1 Hide
    XD_dued , May 17, 2011 11:13 PM
    Hmmm I don't know how this will work considering every other smart phone has ARM. All programs would have to be ported to x86 and I'm not sure how willing people will be to do that.

    But then again...if they were powerful enough to run full x86 OSes that would be a major win.
  • 0 Hide
    molo9000 , May 17, 2011 11:30 PM
    XD_duedBut then again...if they were powerful enough to run full x86 OSes that would be a major win.

    meh. desktop software on tablets or even phones is pretty much useless.

    All I've heard from embedded systems people at my uni is that x86 is bloated and only survives because of compatibility and RISC is the way to go....
    "simpler is faster" or something along those lines. Makes sense to me - but I don't know what Intel knows :) 
  • 1 Hide
    oneblackened , May 17, 2011 11:44 PM
    ^Modern x86 processors are quite RISC like internally.
  • 0 Hide
    tntom , May 18, 2011 12:18 AM
    oneblackened^Modern x86 processors are quite RISC like internally.

    I agree. Remember how seamless it was to port OSX to x86 it will be a non-issue for Android. All Smartphone Apps are running in a higher level language like Java so they will not need to be ported to run on a x86 devise since all the low level interaction happens transparently in the OS, they are practically virtual machines.
    Plus Intel can now reach current Power requirements with Medfield. But the Trigate will cut power in half, now add the power savings of 22nm process on top of that, and next generation Architecture, there is going to be no comparison. Intel's Atoms will be half the power of ARM by then with 4x instructions per clock per core. Only draw back is I can see, is cost to manufacture and getting good yield rates from the new trigate process.

    I believe AMD will be able to compete with Fusion to some limited degree as well with ARM but not like Intel will with their process advantage.
  • 0 Hide
    oneblackened , May 18, 2011 12:21 AM
    OSX for x86 had been in development for years.
  • 0 Hide
    Flameout , May 18, 2011 12:24 AM
    i would much rather see GPGPU (or APU?) architectures with equivalent three dimensions to tri gate. that would be interesting, because i can remember reading that GPUs have the potential to be better than CPUs
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 18, 2011 12:38 AM
    "Intel is an unstoppable force in the CPU industry. Just give it a couple years and they will be the dominant player in whatever they are pursuing (in this case, phones and tablets)."

    Yeah, like graphics, HPC, those lovely Itanium chips... Chipzilla never fails...

    /sarcasm

    You're clearly misinformed. 3.5w for a non-SOC is not within striking distance of ARM. They still need additional silicon for the rest of the phone to function, and that draws power. 5w total vs. 1 to 2w is not even close, it's still 2-4 times the power and heat, and 1/2 to 1/4 the battery life. Intel isn't offering anything that ARM doesn't, and contrary to what Intel marketing is trying get you to believe, they aren't offering superior performance. ARM can easily add more cores and higher clocks, Intel can't.
  • 0 Hide
    FloKid , May 18, 2011 12:59 AM
    Ok so they have the license but want to compete? lol funny. Sometimes I think even the CEOs don't know each other in the same company : )

    ah w/e had me goin there for a while. "I am going to get an ARM" but I guess i'm getting a LEG instead... or a BOOT.
  • 2 Hide
    nebun , May 18, 2011 1:09 AM
    intel does not need an ARM...i hope they don't....intel for life :) 
  • -1 Hide
    Krnt , May 18, 2011 1:24 AM
    So they don't use a Robotic Arm to create CPUs?
  • 2 Hide
    loomis86 , May 18, 2011 1:35 AM
    XD_duedHmmm I don't know how this will work considering every other smart phone has ARM. All programs would have to be ported to x86 and I'm not sure how willing people will be to do that.But then again...if they were powerful enough to run full x86 OSes that would be a major win.


    This is where windows phone 8 comes into play, is my prediction.
  • 0 Hide
    nebun , May 18, 2011 2:05 AM
    loomis86This is where windows phone 8 comes into play, is my prediction.

    intel will create their own power efficient cpu for the mobile market....it would be better if they went with nvidia :) 
  • 0 Hide
    ProDigit10 , May 18, 2011 2:36 AM
    can you imagine that 3d transistor build, at a 22nm process for an ARM chip?

    We'd be talking about days of battery life, netbooks with e-ink or reflective screen getting upto weeks of battery life out of a 6cell 6600mAh battery!

    Intel may not pay ARM royalties, but it would not surprise me if they finally get enough of roughing up the x86 technology for more performance per watt, and start re-inventing the processor!

  • 0 Hide
    DjEaZy , May 18, 2011 5:09 AM
    ... if intel will not do it, AMD and nVidia will...
  • 0 Hide
    henydiah , May 18, 2011 7:02 AM
    wow so...like that..
  • 0 Hide
    rantoc , May 18, 2011 7:54 AM
    The old venerable Total Annihilation might have been predicting the future. Intel have the Core and arm is well Arm =P
  • 0 Hide
    rantoc , May 18, 2011 8:06 AM
    This is a good turn in my book, using the same instruction set would allow a lot of opportunity's between hand held devices and desktop computers. Why just sync some data and have a separate piece of software on both when you can sync the entire program with it or better run it directly from the other device without using desktop control ect. Now where are those api's needed... Hmm win8 / wp8 maby!
  • 0 Hide
    lamorpa , May 18, 2011 1:03 PM
    Flameouti would much rather see GPGPU (or APU?) architectures with equivalent three dimensions to tri gate. that would be interesting, because i can remember reading that GPUs have the potential to be better than CPUs

    Terminology is not knowledge. Why not just say, "i would much rather see the latest technoterms and acronyms or something which have the potential to be better than stuff now or something."
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