ARM threatens Intel's "momentum"

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Intel has once again acknowledged that ARM poses a clear and present danger to x86 architecture in the lucrative mobile market.

At the Intel Platinum Summit in London, General Manager for Global Sales Greg Pearson told ChannelBiz Santa Clara was worried about "losing momentum" to ARM based devices in 2011.

ARM threatens Intel's "momentum""Design team after design team was moving to ARM devices," Pearson said. "We had to change and make the PC as sexy and innovative as some of the devices that were out there."

According to Pearson, uber-thin Ultrabooks will allow Intel's channel to address the move to mobile computing and counter the popularity of devices based on ARM design -  particularly after its long-awaited Ivy Bridge launch.

In other mobile news, Intel's first Android-powered smartphone, the Xolo X900, managed to garner generally positive reviews from both AnandTech and ExtremeTech. 
As Peter Bright of Ars Technica points out, such a scenario was unthinkable even a year ago.

"Intel's previous attempt at a smartphone processor, Moorestown, was ignored by OEMs because it was too big and too complex, requiring too many different chips," Bright explained. 

However, Bright, like a number of analysts, emphasized that Medfield, though competitive, wasn't going to be trouncing ARM anytime soon - as competing RISC-based processors (A9 and Krait) run faster with superior power efficiency.

"But Medfield is just the first true Intel smartphone chip: future offerings will be faster and lower power. Medfield is still built using Intel's 32 nm process. Next year, Intel will release Silvermont, using the company's cutting-edge low-power 22 nm process. The year after will see Airmont, on 14 nm.

"These changes will slash power consumption and, critically, can't easily be matched by the ARM vendors: Intel has a considerable process advantage over other chip fabricators, and will beat them to both 22 nm and 14 nm, probably by several years. These improvements threaten to turn Atom from a credible alternative to ARM—which Medfield is—to a class-leader," he added.