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ARM Likes That Intel is Getting into Smartphone CPU Business

While ARM is dominating the consumer electronics, especially cellular phones, with more than 1 billion processors based on ARM IP every quarter, it is the clear underdog in revenue, profitability and resources when compared to Intel. However, ARM executives continue to launch needles that may hit Intel here and there and underscore ARMs claim to be a much more recognized chip designer.

In an interview with TechRadar, executive vice president Lance Howarth said that ARM was actually happy that Intel is making its way into smartphones, because that would cause people to wonder what other manufacturer is providing processors and eventually lead them to vendors that use ARM architectures. He described Intel's move into smartphones as "one of the best things that's ever happened to [ARM]".

The executives considers the battle with Intel as an opportunity to rise from "anonymous ubiquity". He told the publication that his "utopian goal is that when you guys talk about technology, say the latest HTC phone – that it isn't HTC on Qualcomm but HTC on Qualcomm which is ARM."

"I want to get ARM into almost every article," he said. In comparison to Intel, which had sales of $54 billion and a profit of $12.9 billion in 2011, ARM had just $785 million in licensing revenue - but a profit margin of close to 47 percent ($367 million in net earnings). ARM said that 1.2 billion ARM processors shipped into the smartphone market in 2011 and 1 billion into consumer and embedded digital devices.

  • CaedenV
    If ARM is not careful they are going to become the Linux of the processor world. A lack of unity, and infighting between manufacturers/distributors will just confuse consumers and force them towards a brand they know and generally like; Intel.
    Reply
  • kikireeki
    "ARM Likes That Intel is Getting into Smartphone CPU Business"

    Yeah right!
    Reply
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    CaedenVIf ARM is not careful they are going to become the Linux of the processor world. A lack of unity, and infighting between manufacturers/distributors will just confuse consumers and force them towards a brand they know and generally like; Intel.
    You said it! But in all honesty, I hope that Intel takes over that market, too - exactly because it's a brand I know and generally like :D
    Reply
  • kcorp2003
    I smell a trap.
    Reply
  • belardo
    amk-aka-PhantomYou said it! But in all honesty, I hope that Intel takes over that market, too - exactly because it's a brand I know and generally likeIntel isn't the be all of everything. Its a brand I don't generally like for its illegal strong arm tactics that have hurt competition, selling crappy-ass Pentium 4 CPUs to suckers when AMD ran circles around them.

    But I'll give credit where credit is due. half my computers are intel, a Core i5-35xxK is in my future and I use an intel SSD as well as ONLY sell intel SSDs to my clients. I'll generally go with ATI for graphics.
    Reply
  • cybrcatter
    Whatever you say, Howarth. Win8 is going to be the best thing to happen to your company wrt name recognition in quite some time.
    Reply
  • alvinyang
    I smell patent litigation between Intel and ARM in the future.
    Reply
  • __Miguel_
    @CaedenV: That is also my view on things.

    I personally would not mind ARM and Intel battling it on several fronts, not only the smartphone arena, but also desktop and even server markets. Competition is always a good thing, and we all know Intel is at its best when the competition is really biting at its heels.

    However, while you can just pick up any x86-compatible CPU (generally speaking, any x86 computer) and just know it will work with just about any x86-ready OS you can throw at it in a predictable matter (sure, drivers might be a pain sometimes, but in general it works), with ARM you not only have several completely incompatible instruction sets but you can't even count on a single standard way of accessing hardware.

    Which, in short, means OEMs need to spend time not only looking/coding drivers for the SoCs, but going around and making sure the whole OS plays nice with one particular SoC/SoC design, hence why for instance Android will only run on the Nexus smartphone it was designed for, and everyone else needs colossal amounts of time to not only to get drivers optimized and creating the custom OEM layers (which is expected and expectable), but also porting the whole OS to the other SoCs.

    You can say what you want about x86: it's inefficient, bloated, too old, not designed for low-power operation, etc., but the thing is, the core (and most of the extras that have been added) has remained the same for decades now, and standardized in a way it's extremely easy to work with. Sure, you might get extra instructions from certain CPUs that speed up certain tasks, but most, if not all, of those instructions can be executed in another way, even if with a performance hit.

    What I'm trying to say here is that ARM would only benefit if it followed a single line, like x86. You don't need to force a single way of doing things (AMD, Intel and VIA have been doing it differently for years without problems), you just need to make sure the ecosystem is coherent enough you don't have markets within the ARM market. It you think the best way of booting the system is having the GPU powering up first, handle the POST and then let the CPU take control, so be it, tell everyone that's the way it's going to work from now on and say exactly how it should work. If not, then define a way and stick with it. Same for other stuff going on within the SoC. Suddenly, ARM OS development time would drop like a stone, TtM of the OS too, meaning faster development cycles for finished products and better market penetration.

    Now, that being said, when can I expect an ARM-based mini-ITX board for DIY builds? Like, "just add memory, an HDD/SSD, a case, mouse, keyboard and monitor, and you'll have a full-fledged PC". Heck, with the amount of board real estate available, you could even have a mini-ITX router platform (2x mini-PCIe, 2x Gigabit Ethernet) or a NAS platform (though this one would need a serious overhaul on the ARM storage subsystem capabilities...).

    Miguel
    Reply
  • zaznet
    I think for the most part those who are looking into the processors already know that these are ARM based chips. Even very consumer friendly articles reference the ARM Cortex models when talking about different phones and tablets.
    Reply
  • A Bad Day
    "WTF is ARM?"

    -Your typical ignorant smartphone customer, including teenagers
    Reply