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The Great War Starts: ARM vs x86

The emergence of slate PCs will naturally create a micro-war between Intel and the ARM camp. Naturally, it will cause a battle between suppliers of various x86 and ARM-based chips. Indirectly, this situation has a lot of chances to transform into a war between standards.

Microprocessors with x86 architecture are capable of delivering very high performance. They power the vast majority of data centers and servers all around the world. However, they cannot deliver high speed per low watt, something that is required nowadays for mobile devices and something that will be a part of next-gen low-power servers. ARM-based chips offer low power consumption, but not a lot of other features, for example, they lack even basic 64-bit capability. Still, the fact is that power consumption is the most important factor for mobile devices, the devices that will be the most important driving point for the tech industry.

For example, smartbooks have definitely lost the conflict against netbooks. But the forthcoming battle between tablets, high-performance slates, netbooks and notebooks is completely unpredictable. Naturally, some companies would want to revie smartbooks or redevelop netbooks with all the high-performance technologies they are going to obtain in 2011.

ARM and x86 are completely different platforms. They use different processor system buses as well as input/output systems. Any kind of opposition here will lead  to a war of standards and may eliminate PC-only IO standards, such as FireWire/IEEE1394, USB 3.0 or even LightPeak. Moreover, x86 uses Windows, whereas ARM uses anything, but not Windows.

What is going to happen is completely unpredictable, as just the outcome of the War in 2011. The clear thing is that it will start.

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