Sunday, March 29, 2009

ARM architecture is coming to netbooks

Because of their low price and power saving features (which extends the battery life) ARM is the dominant chip (32 bit) architecture in mobile phones, mp3 players, PDAs, handheld gaming units, calculators, computer peripherals (hard drives, routers) and ebook readers such as Kindle (ARM_architecture) The ARM chip has now evolved into being incorporated into netbooks.

Watch this video to obtain an initial look and feel of the ARM netbooks that will soon be on the market:

Some of the features:
  • ultra thin, light and low cost $199 - $250
  • No fan or heat sink required – this enables new design features
  • 8 hours battery life
  • movies on high resolution screen
Summary: Microsoft threatened by ARM / Linux
Currently Windows runs on 90% of the netbooks and Linux on 10%. The possible threats to MS netbook market dominance include the Google Android OS and low power ARM processors

The software / hardware currently behind the above mentioned 90% of netbooks is Windows XP Home Basic and the x86-based Atom processors-Intel's smallest and lowest-power microprocessors

So far Microsoft is staying with their x86 architecture due to their historical inertia, which now works against them

ARM-based netbooks running Linux (or Google Android) will be on the market soon for prices as low as [US]$199

OLPC may use ARM chips in the XO-2. But there is a problematic irony here, for Negroponte. If Windows does not develop an OS that runs effectively with ARM then the XO-2 would not be able to offer dual boot linux / windows (source)
Apple may be another winner arising from ARM architecture
Look on these netbooks as a larger iPod touch with a hinged keyboard. At twice the length and width they would still fit into a large pocket. With a 7" screen the resolution would be 960 x 640 - four times the screen space of the iPod touch....

While the biggest netbook companies, Acer and Asus, can build ARM netbooks, they would have to be based on Linux or Android, as the only version of Windows that works on ARM is Windows Mobile. Indeed, Asus has already started work on an Android system

Predicted Losers: Microsoft, Intel (at least in the short term), AMD

Predicted Winners: Apple, RIM, Nokia, Asus, Acer, Linux or Android
Thanks to Joel for alerting me to the new evolution of ARM

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