eWEEK at 30: Intel, ARM, Ramping Up Rivalry in Mobile, Server Markets
Most large enterprises tend to run systems that are powered by bigger CPUs and are highly virtualized, with the chip resources used to host virtual machines, he said. ARM-based systems more likely run as clusters, with small systems connected to robust backplanes. In addition, enterprises will probably be less inclined to bring a new architecture and all the attendant training and recompiling that comes with it into their data centers, King said. He also said that Intel's single architecture approach fits better with enterprises. He cited the case of Unix systems in the 1980s, when IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems all offered their own variants of the RISC chip architecture, with companies having to decide which one they would invest billions of dollars in. ARM could find itself in the same situation, with three or four vendors putting their own customized ARM-based chips on the market. For enterprises, the simpler and safer way to go would be with Intel, with a single architecture that it continues to invest in. While both Intel and ARM are looking to push their way into markets that are dominated by the other, one area that is opening up for both is the Internet of things, where billions of intelligent devices connect to the Internet and communicate with people and each other. Gartner analysts said that by 2020, the IoT will include as many as 26 billion devices and have $300 billion in sales. Cisco Systems officials say the IoT could be worth $14.4 trillion in profits to businesses worldwide by 2020.ARM officials in March 2013 announced the company's energy-efficient Cortex-MO+ chip for the IoT, and five months later, ARM bought Sensinode Oy, which makes IoT software. CEO Simon Segars said last year that the "Internet of things runs on ARM. … Our technologies provide the functional building blocks in a huge range of products, including cars, heart monitoring systems, washing machines and lighting. Energy efficiency and miniaturization are essential in these technologies." For its part, Intel in September 2013 introduced the Quark family of chips, which are a fifth the size of Atom SoCs and consume a tenth the power and are aimed at the IoT. In November of 2013, Intel created an Internet of things business unit, which not only will include Quark and Atom hardware, but also software from subsidiaries Wind River and Intel Security (formerly McAfee).
"The Internet of things is wide open right now," King said. "We're really in the early days there. From an endpoint perspective, ARM's energy efficiency makes it a natural leading player in that part of the market, but Intel's got some assets that will serve it well in this space."