BRITISH CHIP DESIGN OUTFIT ARM is not flustered by Intel's recent acquisitions and has been planning its assault on the laptop market for some time.
That's the message coming from the UK firm, hot on the heels of Chinese chip outfit Nufront demonstrating its dual core 2GHz system-on-chip (SoC) based on ARM's Cortex A9 architecture. Speculation has been rife that Intel's round of big money acquisitions means that Chipzilla is gunning for the plucky British company in the mobile space, but Nufront's announcement has repositioned ARM as being on the offensive.
ARM's marketing director Ian Drew, fresh off a flight from China, told The INQUIRER that Nufront's announcement had nothing to do with Intel's own spending spree. Drew alluded to the fact that ARM has been planning to enter the tablet and "clamshell" [laptop] market for three years now, saying that Nufront's announcement was merely a "continuation" of its development cycle with competitor moves having nothing to do with the timing of the announcement.
Drew also highlighted the gaining popularity of Linux, which has been able to run on ARM's architecture for years. He mentioned the fact that not having native Windows support for laptops might have hampered adoption in the past, saying that users expect familiarity in user interfaces when it comes to laptops.
ARM has been working with Canonical, the firm behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution for years now in order to get the user interface right. As Google's Linux based Android operating system continues to gain popularity, it has, according to Drew, sped up the viability of the ARM architecture in laptops.
Interestingly, Drew said that ARM doesn't compete with Intel, rather that is something for its customers. "The fight is between Intel and Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Nvidia and the rest of our customers," said Drew.
The firm's low power architecture has led it to become the darling of the embedded chip industry as it licenses out various designs to over 200 companies. As mobile devices become more reliant on efficient processors that provide a balance between outright speed and power, ARM's design has become a viable alternative in a growing number of applications.
Nufront's announcement is likely to be just the first in a long line. The Chinese firm is set to demonstrate more products based on ARM's SoC architecture at next year's Consumer Electronics Show, with other chipmakers likely to join in the fun. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ