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Chief executive officer of ARM Holdings, a leading developer of mobile microprocessor technologies, said that Intel Corp.’s latest Medfield system-on-chip is “good enough” for smartphones and the company considers Intel a “serious competitor”. But ARM claims that Intel will never be a leader of the mobile chip market since power consumption of its chips is just too high.

“It is inevitable Intel will get a few smartphone design wins – we regard Intel as a serious competitor. Are they ever going to be the leaders in power efficiency? No, of course not. But they have a lot more to offer,” said Warren East, chief executive officer of ARM, in an interview with Reuters.

ARM continues to offer both energy-efficient and cost-efficient designs for a broad amount of mobile devices, from simplistic feature phones to powerful media tablets. At present ARM architecture is licensed by 275 chipmakers. Intel’s one Medfield chip will not change the trend, moreover, since it still consumes more power than ARM-based system-on-chips, it will not find broad adoption due to battery life constraints it brings.

"They (Intel) have taken some designs that were never meant for mobile phones and they have literally wrenched those designs and put them into a power-performance space which is roughly good enough for mobile phones. […] People want to do more things with their phones, but battery size remains constant. It is like having a car with a fixed-size fuel tank and you want to drive 100 more miles. You've got to make the engine more efficient. That is what we do for a living,” added Mr. East.

Intel has a number of ways to substantially reduce power consumption of its microprocessors over time. Firstly, the company is adding special low-power states to its chips along with other logical methods to reduce consumption of energy. Secondly, Intel is rapidly transiting from one process technology to another and that automatically cuts power requirements. Thirdly, Intel is designing novel ultra low-power circuits under its Near-Threshold Voltage Processor project to use them in future central processing units (CPUs). Finally, other technologies can also be used to cut down power consumption.

Tags: ARM, Cortex, Intel, Medfield, NTVP, Claremont

Discussion

Comments currently: 11
Discussion started: 01/12/12 06:30:59 PM
Latest comment: 01/15/12 01:46:27 PM
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1. 
The analogy "It is like having a car with a fixed-size fuel tank and you want to drive 100 more miles. " is wrong in the article. They mentioned that people want to do more with their phones, so the analogy should go "It is like having a car with a fixed-size fuel tank and you want to go the same distance while having the AC cranked on, charging all your devices, windows down, and other extraneous fuel efficiency destroying activities."
0 0 [Posted by: Damlong  | Date: 01/12/12 06:30:59 PM]
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Your analogy is better, but ultimately it's describing the same scenario: getting more out of the same, fixed amount of power.
0 0 [Posted by: jiffylube1024  | Date: 01/13/12 12:09:11 PM]
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2. 
Intel has the advantage of the best semiconductor process technology. This can balance the relatively more power hungry x86 architecture. I find it amazing that Intel achieved parity with ARM so soon. And the soon to arrive 22nm technology promises big gains in power efficiency.

Truth be told, I'm an Intel hater because of their anti-competitive behaviour. But one cannot deny that they've been on a spree lately and make terrific products. I just wish they only compete by the merits of their products and not using their deep pockets to bribe manufacturers.
1 1 [Posted by: kokara4a  | Date: 01/13/12 07:03:41 AM]
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Weeeeelllllll... Intel has been aiming for parity with ARM since the 45nm Atom in early 2008.

With that said, Intel has impressive looking CPU power benchmarks when you compare the 32nm Medfield reference platform to current 40/45nm ARM architecture. Intel has a manufacturing process (node) advantage that isn't going away in the future. They very smartly leverage hyperthreading to avoid some of the problems with single core designs in multitasking scenarios (pauses and hiccups), negating the advantage ARM's dual core designs (at least in theory).

It will be very interesting to see 22nm Medfield and 32nm ARM battle it out in mid-to-late 2012.

The current generation CPU's that Medfield is competing against have been used in smartphones since early 2011, ie 1.2 GHz Exynos in the SGS II, built on the 45nm node.

Samsung already has next-gen Exynos chips running on 32nm using higher clocked 1.5+ GHz Cortex A9 (presumably consuming significantly less power than current gen Exynos) or higher performance Cortex A15.

The battle will be a hot one; Intel's use of x86 may be their undoing in the smartphone market.
0 0 [Posted by: jiffylube1024  | Date: 01/13/12 12:08:07 PM]
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All of the A15 prototypes I've seen have been claiming to be x2 the performance of A9 chips in current production, so by the time Medfield comes out it might be a generation behind. But the again it was like 4 generations behind last year so there is still the possibility of them catching all the way up in the next year or so. I hope they don't though, simply because it will introduce another sector where Intel has a monopoly.
0 0 [Posted by: daneren2005  | Date: 01/13/12 01:12:38 PM]
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I agree, Intel would bury ARM if they used a different instruction set. There's just no need for x86 on a phone, and the costs in terms of transistors and power offsets Intel's superior manufacturing. If they went with a new, purposely created instruction set, they'd beat ARM, hands down (forgive the pun).
0 0 [Posted by: TA152H  | Date: 01/13/12 04:08:37 PM]
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3. 
But ARM claims that Intel will never be a leader of the mobile chip market since power consumption of its chips is just too high


ROFL I am now a fan of ARM, for the sole reason that the gonads to make a statement like this.

But seriously, Intel can't win at everything. Greed never got anyone incredibly far from a moral standpoint. Stick with what you know and do well is in my opinion your best course of action.
1 2 [Posted by: veli05  | Date: 01/13/12 09:29:28 AM]
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4. 
Intel don't like selling chips for less then say $50, at least with out a chipset package, Iooks like they can compete on battery/performance with Medfield but they are about keeping that stock price high comes first, absolutely first.

ARM seem more happy to sell chips for a few bucks, and help other companies build their own arm based CPUs, it's hugely different approach.

It's a clash of to different worlds, sparks are gonna fly, I actually only see Intel hurting out of all of this, at least the all important stock price.

It's game over for high profits on CPUs for intel, this is still going to take a good few years to see it in the profit reports mind you.
A lot of it is based on how horrifically addicted consumers are to Windows based PCs, iPads/tablets have shown that people are wiening them selfs off that addiction, most in the industry could of sworn that was never going to be broken a few years ago.

1 1 [Posted by: goldplated  | Date: 01/13/12 09:29:14 PM]
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5. 
I never understood why stupid people hunting only bragging rights continue buying Intel(and sometimes NVidia products)instead of supporting their competitors.Maybe someone can explain...but certainly not an Apple fan.
0 1 [Posted by: mosu  | Date: 01/15/12 01:46:27 PM]
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