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Intel moves in on ARM with Medfield smartphones

Fri Jan 13 2012, 17:13

ARM does not appear unduly concerned by this move by Intel. In an interview with Reuters, ARM CEO Warren East acknowledged the chip giant as a competitor, but dismissed its ability to deliver in key areas such as battery life, saying: "Are they ever going to be the leaders in power efficiency? No, of course not."

The announcement at CES comes as ARM is attempting in turn to muscle onto Intel's home turf by creating an ARM ecosystem for servers as well as desktop and laptop systems.

ARM has already garnered support from enterprise vendors such as HP, while Linux developer Canonical has already released a server version of Ubuntu Linux for ARM-based systems. Interest in use of the ARM architecture in high-density server environments, where power and thermal constraints are critical, has also been growing.

Meanwhile, Windows 8 will become another battleground between the two architectures, as this next release of Microsoft's PC operating system will support both x86 and ARM processors, and Microsoft is hoping that ARM-based tablets will prove to be more successful than those based on x86 chips against their Apple and Android-based counterparts.

However, in smartphones, Intel does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. It has been busy optimising Android for x86 chips, to the point where it now claims that Intel-based smartphones have the "most highly optimised version of Android on the planet", which could give the company some traction at the high-end of the smartphone market where users value performance.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether Intel has done enough to improve power efficiency in its new Atom Medfield chip to make significant inroads in the smartphone market. µ


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