Intel’s “A” letter Rival – ARM, not AMD

In data centers, the standard is go bigger with more power.  But, in the mobile market energy efficient performance is the standard, and ARM is the winner.  At some point, someone is going to build an IT infrastructure on Linux running on thousands of ARM processors. 

People will laugh at the idea, but for the same reason IBM chose their Blue Gene supercomputer architecture, a start-up could do the same.

The Blue Gene/L supercomputer is unique in the following aspects:

  • Trading the speed of processors for lower power consumption.
  • Dual processors per node with two working modes: co-processor (1 user process/node: computation and communication work is shared by two processors) and virtual node (2 user processes/node)
  • System-on-a-chip design
  • A large number of nodes (scalable in increments of 1024 up to at least 65,536)
  • Three-dimensional torus interconnect with auxiliary networks for global communications, I/O, and management
  • Lightweight OS per node for minimum system overhead (computational noise)[9] goes into more detail on Intel and ARM in the mobile space.

For Intel, small laptops bring challenge from ARM

by Brooke Crothers

Quick: Name an Intel rival whose name begins with an "A" and is abbreviated by three letters.

AMD? How about ARM. Even with attention focused on the immediate impact of Intel's earnings coming Tuesday afternoon, pesky questions linger about a likely future in which U.K.-based ARM and its satellite of chip and device makers pose a growing competitive threat. Maybe more so than Intel's traditional rival, Advanced Micro Devices.

Two recent statements from analysts argue that the camp of companies that make chips based on designs from ARM will dictate future competition in mobile computing. These companies include Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Samsung, and, in the future, Apple.

New Tripoli, Penn.-based The Information Network said late last month that ARM processors, not Intel's Atom chip, will gain the largest chunk of the Netbook market in 2012--about a 55 percent market share. Netbooks are small, ultralight laptops typically priced under $400.

The market research firm argues that small ARM-based laptops, dubbed "smartbooks," will thrive under subsidized services from telephone carriers "modeled after Hewlett-Packard (cheap printer, expensive ink) and the mobile service providers (cheap cellphone, expensive monthly wireless charge)."

Note this comment on performance per watt.

And on Monday EE Times cited analyst Didier Scemama, with ABN AMRO Bank NV, who said there is a "shift towards computing based on ARM-Linux and away from Intel-Microsoft over the next technology cycle," which he said would begin in the second half of 2010, because ARM processors would match Intel chips in performance and beat them on power consumption and possibly cost.

The fastest growing internet companies have a sizeable Linux investment, and it would seem some are asking the question of whether they can run on an ARM-Linux platform.