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There are a lot of ongoing discussions regarding the huge potential of ARM micro-architecture chips on the market of netbooks as well as the end of Intel/x86 and  Microsoft Windows domination. However, consumers buying netbooks powered by ARM chips and Linux should know: they will have to tackle with poor video support as well as limited software base, claim developers of such machines.

Microprocessors based on ARM micro-architecture are not supported by Adobe Flash that is used to enable Internet-based video as well as many web-sites, which significantly decreases abilities to access certain content or information by end-users. Moreover, there are no standards for Linux applications that are used on mobile devices. Finally, as consumers are starting to demand higher quality videos, higher resolution screens, multitasking and so on, performance provided by ARM chips may be insufficient.

“Adobe Flash is heavily used across the Web, and people are working hard on bringing it to ARM, but it is one of the big problems for these systems,” said Gregor Berkowitz, president of Moto Development Group, a contract design company working with three clients on ARM/Linux netbooks, in an interview with EETimes web-site.

In fact, Adobe and ARM are working on Flash optimized for ARM, however it is unclear when it is set to become available. But there are more problems: many now make video available in H.264 format and when it comes to higher resolution videos – which consumers might expect to watch on netbooks with up to 12” screen – performance of ARM chips may not be enough.

“The baseline expectation for video is 30 frames/second, and at that rate every ARM device has different resolutions it can support on different size displays. As screens get bigger, we're pushing the top end of the ARM performance,” said Mr Berkowitz.

While many system-on-chip products for netbooks and mobile Internet devices, such as Freescale Snapdragon or Nvidia Tegra feature hardware-accelerated video playback, performance of ARM processors may still be low for certain tasks and even Flash-based video.

Theoretically, cloud computing may solve performance issues on almost all devices. The best example of cloud computing today is Web-based office productivity applications. However, when it comes to more demanding tasks for mainstream consumers, cloud computing may only become available in several years.

Tags: Nvidia, Tegra, Freescale, Snapdragon

Discussion

Comments currently: 2
Discussion started: 04/14/09 12:21:04 PM
Latest comment: 03/14/10 06:16:20 PM

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1. 
Too much speculation here. Will these devices have 12" screens at all? Will users really expect high resolution video playback (that current Atom based netbooks don't do well) on a $200 device?

Flash is necessary, but assuming it will become available, a $200 ARM-based netbook could provide enough features to be usable.

You know, next thing people will start saying that these ARM netbooks won't play next gen games.
0 0 [Posted by: ET3D  | Date: 04/14/09 12:21:04 PM]
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2. 
Having followed the progress of the ARM CPU from it's beginning I am surprised to read this article and find it slightly FUDy.

What I see is an important transformation of our industry.
It is of great importance for Microsoft, Apple and Intel, manufacturers, retailers, software developers and the general public, rich and poor.

Doubting the Linux community, Adobe and ARM and their ability to solve development issues of this new bread of netbooks is noteworthy. I think it hardy reflect their track records.

As you may know CPUs base on the ARM instruction set are in the great majority of mobile phones and other portable devices.

In the year 2010 ARM CPUs almost certainly will have a transforming effect on the portable computer market. The transformation will involve cool running(no fan), extended battery life, light, low price netbooks. That is the important point.

As regards "But there are more problems" - netbooks will have "up to 12” screens"
I do not think the $200 netbook will have a high-res 12” screen.

But as stated in the EETimes (2009) article: "Units coming this fall will have a risk of being slightly underpowered, though they could have a good user experience," said Berkowitz. "The parts coming next year will eliminate that problem and make platforms very impressive," he added.
0 0 [Posted by: ragnar  | Date: 03/14/10 06:16:20 PM]
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