In case the Federal Trade Commission wins the case against Intel Corp. and imposes restrictions on its business practices, ARM will get higher chances to win market share in the netbook and smartbook PC space, believes ABI Research.
"ARM-based processors are the leading architecture powering mobile phones and while Atom has had early success in the netbook segment, ARM-based processors are positioned to capture a growing, and possibly a significant share of new netbook models in the coming year," said Kevin Burden, director of ABI Research's mobile devices practice.
In the past ARM microprocessors were underpowered and were only utilized for relatively simple devices, including cell phones, personal digital assistants and smartphones, but not fully-fledged personal computers. Even Intel Atom are more powerful than all existing processors based on ARM architecture. Besides, Intel ships Atom chips with core-logic that contains graphics core as well as input/output functions controller at a relatively low price. As a result, ARM-based solutions can hardly compete against Intel Atom in terms of price and cannot compete at all in terms of performance. The only clear advantage that ARM chips have is their ultimately low power consumption, which helped the architecture to capture 98% of handsets market, but yet has to show its benefits when it comes to netbooks and smartbooks.
"Intel's position in the netbook market is already threatened by the low power consumption and connectivity capabilities of ARM processors. If successful, these actions by the FTC would make it that much easier for ARM to extend its lead in mobile devices,” added Mr. Burden.
It will indisputably be easier for ARM to compete against Intel in case the company is forced to sell all its chips separately.
However, there is a big problem: ARM is not supported by desktop versions of Windows operating systems and cannot run PC software. Will ARM be able to win a chunk of a PC market from Intel by just offering lower cost and longer battery life? That is a big question in general.