Thanks to Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8, ARM will make significant inroads against Intel and AMD in the PC space, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
stranglehold that Intel and its x86 chip architecture have had on the PC market
for three decades will come to an end starting next year, when Microsoft's
upcoming Windows 8 will open the door to systems running on processors designed
by ARM Holdings, according to research firm IHS iSuppli.
In a report July
18, IHS iSuppli analysts said that by 2015, 22.9 percent of notebook shipments
worldwide will be ARM-based systems, a jump from the 3 percent projected in
2012. Shipments of ARM notebooks will reach 74 million units in 2015, compared
with 7.6 million in 2012.
rapid growth will be the next iteration of Microsoft's Windows operating
system. Microsoft officials announced at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in
January that Windows 8, due out in 2012, will support SoC (system-on-a-chip)
architectures, in particular those designed by ARM and manufactured by the
likes of Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Samsung. Windows support is
crucial to ARM officials, who have been looking to expand into the PC space but
have been slowed by a lack of software support.
Windows has supported only x86 chips from Intel and AMD.
in 1981, when IBM first created its original PC based on Intel's 8088
microprocessor, the X86 architecture has dominated the PC market," Matthew
Wilkins, principal analyst of compute platforms for IHS iSuppli, said in a
statement. "Over the next generation, billions of PCs were shipped based
on x86 microprocessors supplied by Intel and assorted rivals-mainly Advanced
Micro Devices. However, the days of the x86's unchallenged domination are
coming to an end as Windows 8 opens the door for the use of the ARM processor,
which already has achieved enormous popularity in the mobile phone and tablet
inroads for ARM will be in what the analysts are calling "value notebooks"-such
as netbooks-where price/performance is a key metric. Such systems come in at
less than $700, according to IHS iSuppli. Currently, such systems run Intel's
Atom and Celeron M chips, or Advanced Micro Devices' E-Series processors.
processors dominate the mobile-device market, thanks to their low power
consumption and small dimensions. Such characteristics will make ARM chips
attractive to PC OEMs, particularly in the value notebook space, according to
well-suited for value notebooks, where performance isn't a key criterion for
buyers," he said. "Value notebook buyers are looking for basic
systems that balance an affordable price with reasonable performance. ARM
processors deliver acceptable performance at a very low cost, along with
unrivaled power efficiency."
haven't been shy about their ambitions. During the Computex 2011 show in May,
ARM President Tudor Brown told journalists that the company expects that by
2015, half of all mobile PCs-including tablets and mini-PCs-will be powered by ARM-based chips
Some PC OEMs,
including Acer, Asus, Samsung and Toshiba
, reportedly are
getting ready to release ARM-based notebooks running Google's Android operating
system by the end of 2011.
part, Intel officials are pushing a concept they're calling "ultrabooks"
thin and light notebooks powered by Intel Core and Atom chips and running at
less than $1,000. Intel executives are predicting that ultrabooks will account
for 40 percent of notebooks shipped by the end of 2012. A number of systems
makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Asus and Lenovo
reportedly are building ultrabooks.
The PC market
is one of several in which Intel-and to lesser extent AMD-will compete. Both
Intel and AMD have been working to drive down power consumption in their
processors while retaining the high performance they've been noted for. Intel
executives in particular have been vocal in their desire to grow their reach
beyond their traditional server and PC businesses and into such areas as
smartphones and tablets.
Intel not only
is expanding the capabilities of its Atom platform, but also is continuing to
evolve its Core processors, all with an eye toward the mobile-device market. In
May, Intel unveiled its Tri-Gate transistor architecture
, which officials
said will drive up the performance of the chips by 37 percent while cutting
power consumption in half. The Tri-Gate design will first appear in Intel's "Ivy
Bridge" processors, initially in PCs and servers and later in such devices
as smartphones and tablets.
Intel will use the technology and the Atom chips to help stave off a challenge
by ARM and some of its manufacturing partners-such as Marvell Technologies and
Nvidia-in the low-power server space.