Archive | November, 2011

Sandcastle In Microprocessor Empire

21 Nov

Believe it or not, there are more computers around us than one might think. The cell phones in our pocket, the calculators in our backpack are all full-fledged computers. And they are getting more and more powerful with time. The current crop of smart-phones can do almost everything a computer is expected to do. They can play music, videos. They can be used to view and edit documents. Their older cousin tablets can also do all these things. And when the computing power of these devices is not quite enough, they rely on cloud computing, that is when the data is sent to a server and processed there and the result is sent back. And to do that all the device needs is the power to run a browser. All these are making a powerful processor, which is the brain of a computer, less necessary. A processor that is just powerful enough to run the operating is more appropriate in these devices. What has become more important is battery life.

This has given birth to a very interesting trend in the computing industry. That is a meteoric rise in the popularity of ARM micro-architecture. While the full-fledged computers use x86 architecture, all the smaller and mobile devices use ARM. And in the recent surge of uses in smart-phones and tablet computers has helped its fame increase dramatically. The x86 architecture is developer friendly and power efficient in its own game, but it cannot match ARM in power efficiency. As a result more a more developers are shifting to ARM architecture. And as the leading x86 manufacturer Intel stands to lose the more in this process. The chip giant Intel commands a staggering market share, which is above 80%, in x86 processor. And as x86 itself dominates the traditional computer scenario, if ARM were to take the lead, Intel’s empire stands to fall first. Continue reading