Intel: There Are No Advantages in Going to ARM

Compatibility with Windows Will Not Help ARM: No Legacy Software Will Be Supported - Intel

by Anton Shilov
05/17/2011 | 11:17 PM

Chief executive officer of Intel Corp. ruled out possibilities of adopting ARM architecture for its chips aimed at ultra-mobile devices. The company believes that instead of paying royalties to ARM, it may achieve better financial results and performance by tuning-up its x86 micro-architecture for low power consumption.


"There is no advantage going [into the ARM camp], we would be beholden to someone else, beholden to ARM. We would pay royalties to them so it would lower the overall profits. I think we can do a better," said Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel, during the company's meeting with financial analysts, reports Reuters news-agency.

Back in 2010 chief technology officer of Intel indicated that the company's code-named Medfield system-on-chip powered by Atom x86 core and PowerVR graphics engine would be more energy-efficient than powerful ARM-based SoCs. The company promised in late 2010 that the first smartphones powered by Medfield would be available in the second half of 2011, but at present the firm expects handsets featuring x86 technology to be released in the first half of 2012.

Intel used to make Xscale-series microprocessors that were compatible with ARM architecture back in the early oughts. In the middle of the 2000s the company sold the Xscale division to Marvell Semiconductor and proclaimed "x86 everywhere" strategy, which it currently keeps. Intel's arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices also pursues "x86 everywhere" strategy.

ARM, whose technologies power the vast majority of mobile phones, has been gaining importance in the recent years. The world's largest software developer Microsoft Corp. early this year said that its forthcoming Windows 8 would be compatible with ARM chips. Still, keeping in mind that all the software available today has been written for x86 solutions by AMD and Intel, compatibility with Windows does not give ARM-powered SoCs immediate advantages.

"The version designed for Intel chips will run older Windows programs. The ARM versions won’t run older programs. They will be tailored to mobile devices and tablet computers and there will also be a version for Intel chips to address that market," said Renee James, head of Intel’s software business, reports Bloomberg news-agency.

Still, it is rather noteworthy that ARM will be able to address the market that belongs to Intel and AMD, whereas the x86 companies cannot address the market of smartphones just now.