ARM CEO Warren East says Intel will get some smartphone design wins but in the end won't be able to compete with ARM-designed chips in the area of low power.
Intel's aggressive push at this week's
Consumer Electronics Show into the mobile computing space made headlines, but
did not impress the head of ARM Holdings, whose low-power chip designs are
found in most smartphones and tablets.
In an interview with Reuters at CES
in Las Vegas, ARM
CEO Warren East called Intel's efforts in the low-power chip space-including
its upcoming Atom "Medfield" platform-"good enough," and said
that while Intel may get some design wins, it won't threaten ARM's dominance in
the booming market.
"It's inevitable Intel will get a
few smartphone design wins," East told Reuters. "We regard Intel as a
serious competitor. Are they ever going to be the leaders in power efficiency?
No, of course not. But they have a lot more to offer."
Intel executives at CES announced Jan.
10 that as part of a multiyear deal with Motorola Mobility
, the phone
maker will begin selling smartphones powered by the Atom Z2460 Medfield
platform and running Google's Android operating system in the second half of
2012. In addition, Lenovo officials at the show showed off the very first Intel
Atom smartphone, the Android-based Lenovo K800
, which will launch in
China in the second quarter. There was no word on when it will reach the United
During his CES keynote, Intel President
and CEO Paul Otellini touted the Motorola partnership, saying it will be a key
factor in Intel's mobile computing strategy and in its looming competition with
"We expect the combination of our
companies to break new ground and bring the very best of computing capabilities
to smartphones and tablets," Otellini said.
In his interview with Reuters, ARM's
East noted that Intel is coming into the space at a disadvantage, trying to
take its traditional x86 architecture that was used for years in servers and
PCs and rework it to meet the low-power demands of smartphones and tablets.
That will only get Intel so far, he said.
"They [Intel] have taken some designs
that were never meant for mobile phones, and they've literally wrenched those
designs and put them into a power-performance space which is roughly good
enough for mobile phones," East said.
Intel and ARM have been moving closer
other over the past year, with Intel eyeing the booming mobile device space and
ARM and its manufacturing partners-including Qualcomm, Nvidia, Marvell, Samsung
and Calxeda-looking to push the ARM architecture up the ladder and into the PC
and low-power server markets. ARM currently licenses its designs to 275 chip
At CES, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs touted
the company's upcoming S4 Snapdragon chip
, demonstrating a
tablet powered by the chip and running Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system.
Windows 8, due out sometime this year, will support both x86 architectures from
Intel and Advanced Micro Devices as well as ARM's architecture. That will
enable chip makers like Qualcomm, Samsung and others to compete directly with
Intel and AMD.
In the smartphone and tablet space, low
power is always what's most important, and it's where Intel will always lag
behind ARM and its partners, East said.
"People want to do more things
with their phones, but battery size remains constant," he said. "It's
like having a car with a fixed-size fuel tank and you want to drive 100 more
miles. You've got to make the engine more efficient. That's what we do for a