CHIP DESIGNER ARM could power over 20 per cent of all laptops shipped in 2015, according to analyst outfit IHS Isuppli.
IHS Isuppli has forecast that the domination of X86 chips in the laptop market will start to diminish as Microsoft releases its Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 will be the first desktop operating system from Microsoft that will support the ARM architecture that is found in just about every smartphone in existence.
Worryingly for AMD and Intel, IHS Isuppli predicted that ARM will do extensive damage in the mainstream notebook market, the most lucrative market segment for chip makers. The firm describes this market as currently being served by AMD's E-series and Intel's Atom and Celeron M processors.
Isuppli's Matthew Wilkins said, "ARM is well suited for value notebooks, where performance isn't a key criterion for buyers. 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 unrivalled power efficiency."
What this means is that Nvidia, the firm that was never granted an X86 license by Intel, could well end up flogging chips that are in direct competition with Intel's core products. IHS Isuppli also predicted good things for ARM chip designers Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.
ARM told The INQUIRER last month that it is working hard on increasing the graphics power of its system-on-chip (SoC) designs. Currently Mali represents the firm's highest performing graphics core but ARM claims that it will have games console levels of graphics power on its low-power chips within 18 months.
Although the Linux kernel has supported ARM architectures for years, there's no doubt that Microsoft's Windows 8 support will bring mass consumer appeal for ARM chips on desktop and laptop computers. An ARM representative told The INQUIRER that Windows 8 support will help the firm gain traction in the server market, another market that is dominated by X86 chips from AMD and Intel.
IHS Isuppli still foresees 80 per cent of the laptop market running on X86 chips, so it isn't panic stations for AMD or Intel just yet. However should ARM manage to take close to 20 per cent in just four years from a standing start, then questions will begin to be asked about the long term viability of the X86 architecture in general purpose computing. µ