Posts Tagged ‘ARM’

Apple, Moving to the ARM Architecture?

This takes us to a more speculative train of thought: Moving to the ARM architecture.

When you experience the 11” MacBook Air on a relatively slow 1.4 GHz Intel processor, you can’t help but wonder how it would feel on multi-core ARM hardware. Porting an OS to a new processor is no longer rocket science, but moving third-party applications is much harder — unless they’ve been distributed and regularized in such a way that makes the transition smooth and transparent.

I don’t think it is speculation even. I’ve always seen it as a forgone conclusion.

Apple will slowly move lower end devices to ARM in the future.

I’ve ported OS X applications. And I mean fully blown desktop applications, and OpenGL engines to iOS. It really is not rocket science. And most mobile and desktop APIs of note are converging anyway.

I am sure Apple already have an ARM MacBook Air prototype, an early hybrid of OS X and iOS, and I said as much last year.

Posted: February 14th, 2011
Categories: Apple, Speculation
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Windows on ARM good for Intel…

[Intel Executive Vice President Dadi Perlmutter] basically said (and I paraphrase from memory here) that Microsoft has a long ways to go on the tablet software front, and that an ARM port will help them get there. And, by the time they get their tablet software sorted—a fresh, tablet-centric UI and much-needed power optimizations—Intel will be ready with an Atom-based chip that can compete directly with ARM in the milliwatt power draw range.

Right now, Atom is significantly more power-hungry (and more high-performance) than the ARM Cortex A8-caliber hardware that’s showing up in Android tablets. But Intel will continue to close that gap with each new process generation. So, by the time Moore’s Law delivers an Atom SoC with the same power profile as A8- and A9-based SoCs, Microsoft will either be ready with a tablet-worthy OS, or it will be further along than it would’ve been if it had been waiting for Intel to catch up.

Good point.

Posted: January 10th, 2011
Categories: ARM, Microsoft, intel, windows
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Windows on ARM…

Windows will not only run on x86 processors, but also certain ARM ones. Specifically, it will support certain ARM system-on-chip (SoC) designs from NVIDIA (with its Tegra family), Texas Instruments (with its OMAP 4 family), and Qualcomm (with Snapdragon).

Windows 8 (or whatever it ends up being called) will include a new shell, apparently known as “Modern Shell” or “MoSh,” that will bring touch friendliness and modern elegance to the Windows platform.

It seems that Microsoft is making all the same mistakes over again. They’ve just introduced Windows 7, and Windows Phone 7. They still have the vestiges of an ARM OS kicking around in Windows CE, and now they are introducing another cludge to try and shoehorn Windows onto mobile devices.

The sum total of their “Windows on ARM” demo at CES was a direct port of Office, and the same for Windows. Perhaps there is more to come this week?

Perhaps Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will be based on the same OS underpinnings as each other, much like OS X and iOS. But, frankly, I doubt it. Why not just move forwards with Windows Phone 7 more aggressively?

With an expected ship date of 2012 I can’t see this panning out well for Microsoft. iOS and Android will be streets ahead by then. And RIMs new tablet OS might even be gaining momentum. And slowly but surely the reasons to want Windows on a mobile device will continue to diminish as people transition to other mobile solutions for working with Office documents and the like.

Perhaps Microsoft are hoping that NVIDIA’s new multi-core ARM SoC is going to handle all the bloat on Windows 8, and they can unify desktop and mobile that way? If so that is all-together the wrong approach, and even if they did pull that off then it’s already too late.

Posted: January 6th, 2011
Categories: ARM, windows
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Google TV to use ARM Silicon in future?

BARCELONA (Dow Jones)–Microchip designer ARM Holdings PLC (ARM.LN) has an “active technical dialogue” with Google Inc. (GOOG) that extends to Google TV, Chief Executive Warren East said Thursday.

East’s comments come after Dow Jones Newswires reported late Wednesday that ARM was in preliminary discussions with Google on a potential cooperation deal linked to Google TV, which lifted its stock.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecoms conference in Barcelona, East said: “It’s well known that all the Android phones that are out there at the moment are running on ARM, and so clearly Google are active users of ARM.

From  The WSJ.

This explains ARM‘s stock price jump over the last few days.

If I was Intel I would be very concerned about the future of Mobile, and more specifically my role in it.

This also perhaps explains why certain brand leading TVs with Google TV built in are put together in what looks more akin to prototype grating than something that rolled off a final unified production line.

Posted: November 25th, 2010
Categories: ARM, Google, intel
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What is Sony’s Plan For The PSP2?

So here’s the real question mark in my mind regarding the PSP Phone leak – does it really make sense for Sony, probably less than a year away from getting PSP 2 out into the public eye, to start building tech from the (pretty unsuccessful) PSPgo into phone handsets? One might argue that it could help to head off Apple’s assault on the gaming sector – and certainly, a phone that can play Monster Hunter Portable would be pretty attractive in Japan – but the potential for a PSX style high profile failure which would pollute a future, PSP2-focused effort cannot be discounted.

What is Sony’s plan?

We have heard that PSP2 hardware is with developers right now. And yet this week we are seeing leaked images and specs of a “Playstation Phone”. Which is apparently an ARM based smartphone with slide out controls.

Japanese console hardware, be it handheld or full size, is typically very focussed, low cost, high performance hardware (as long as you can do the programming equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your tummy).

As good as the current crop of 1Ghz ARM processors and their GPU sidekicks are, they are not really suited to emulating PS2, or even PSP games.

Even Nintendo’s underpowered 3DS has some fairly unique specialisations to its silicon. 2 CPUs (roughy equivalent to one original iPhone CPU) and a really ancient GPU. But a GPU that boasts some fairly specialised pipeline mods to an OpenGL ES 1.x base. All in all enough to provide a focussed and specialised gaming experience.

If the PSP2 and the “Playstation Phone” both come to market it is extremely unlikely that they will be compatible in any way. The former is likely based on specialised silicon and relies on proprietary languages and APIs. The latter is just a branded Android smartphone.

This is fragmentation of a brand and a hardware base of the very worst kind.

Colour me confused.

My fear is that Sony Ericsson just want in on the smartphone explosion. And we are going to see yet another Android handset. Which will achieve nothing more than killing the PSP2 outside Japan.

Perhaps it is just time to kill the PSP line altogether? If I was actually using my PSP developer credentials, and was half way through a project for that platform I would be very concerned right now.

Posted: October 29th, 2010
Categories: ARM, PSP, Sony
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MeeGo 1.1 Release

Today we are announcing the project release of MeeGo 1.1. It provides a solid baseline for device vendors and developers to start creating software for various device categories on Intel Atom* and ARMv7 architectures.

My initial reaction to the look and feel of the user interface in the *little credit card sized mockup at the top of the page is that I love it.

I wonder how much it was inspired by a little New Zealand SciFi drama called “This is Not My Life”. (Landscape view).

The 1.1 Core OS provides a complete set of enabling technologies for mobile computing. The MeeGo stack contains Linux Kernel 2.6.35, server 1.9.0, Web Runtime, Qt 4.7, and Qt Mobility 1.0.2, supporting the contacts, location, messaging, multimedia, and sensor and service frameworks. It also includes a number of leading edge components, such as the oFono telephony stack, the ConnMan connection manager, the Tracker data indexer, the Telepathy real-time communications framework, the Buteo sync framework, and many more.

* It’s been pointed out to me that the “little credit card sized mockup” is actually for an in car navigation unit. But we’d still love to see it on a phone.

Posted: October 29th, 2010
Categories: Uncategorized
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Intel Developing iOS to “other” OS Porting Tool

Currently most of the smartphones and tablets in the market are powered by an ARM-based microprocessor and thus app developers have to code apps to optimize the ARM architecture.

This should tell Intel something.

Intel’s tool will allow app developers to port these apps to devices running on its Atom processors. The tool helps the developers to spot the key changes they need to make to an Apple app to make it Intel-device compatible.

I’d be interested to see more details on this. In the end, if I was going to port something to another flavour of OS, or silicon, I would just do it myself. Most of us code in portable ways by default these days.

This strategy seems a bit desperate. Not as desperate as Microsoft paying people to develop for their hardware. But desperate nonetheless.

Intel would do far better if it simply got its silicon strategy back on track. It seems that they feel that buying companies and trying to absorb other IP is a better way forward for them at the moment.

Which makes me wonder how confident of their future silicon they are.

I still don’t get why they felt they needed to buy an anti-virus company. Although I have read all the arguments for why it is a good idea.

Posted: October 8th, 2010
Categories: intel
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MacBook Air : But What Flavour of CPU?

Meanwhile, Quanta has reportedly landed orders for 11.6-inch MacBooks from Apple. Shipments of 11.6-inch MacBooks are expected to top 400,000-500,000 units in 2010.

A lot of people are theorising that this is for a new MacBook Air.

Possible. But what CPU are they going to stick inside this revision?

A little bird told me months ago that as well as playing with different enclosure material, and touch sensitive screens for the Air, Apple has also been flirting with ARM based silicon.

I don’t see it happening for the Air in this upcoming refresh. It’s too early. But with Intel’s mobile silicon being so underwhelming on the GPU front, I am sure that ARM SoCs are something Apple are at least considering, moving forwards…

You only need to consider new GPU silicon like this, and this, to see how much trouble Intel is in this decade if it keeps up its obsession with home made integrated GPUs.

Posted: September 26th, 2010
Categories: ARM, Analysis, Apple, intel
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NVIDIA : ARM Smart Phones will Bury x86 PCs

It’s a foregone conclusion that the personal computer of the future is [mobile phone sized]. You could add wireless HDMI to it someday, and it could also be your set-top box.

The PC of the future will be made by new OEMs, sold through new distributors and use a new instruction-set architecture. ARM will be the most important CPU architecture of the future, and it already is the fastest growing processor architecture.

Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia, speaking at the company’s annual conference.

Couldn’t agree more.

There is no love lost between NVIDIA and Intel. And these comments are certainly directed Intel’s way, at least in part. But that doesn’t make his comments any less valid.

ARM’s shares price growth resembles the lower end of an exponential curve right now. I think that curve fits most charts relating to their business activities.

This is the PC of the future, right here.

Posted: September 24th, 2010
Categories: ARM, Nvidia, intel
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Intel & AMD Beware : The ARM A15

The overall position of the A15 in ARM’s lineup is as the next logical step up the ladder from the A9, so that in order of core size, complexity, performance, features, capability, and power consumption, the Cortex family goes by the numbers: A8 at the bottom, then A9, then A15 at the top. The A8 is an in-order part with a very simple architecture that’s comparable to Intel’s Atom in some key anatomical respects, but is much lower-power and more efficient than the latter. The Cortex A9 is an out-of-order part that brings the ARM line into Atom’s performance territory, and also closer to Atom in power draw (though the A9 is allegedly still much more efficient than Atom).

ARM stock has close to doubled in the last 6 months. There were rumours at one point that Apple was going to buy them. These were quickly debunked, however.

ARM also recently signed a new deal with Samsung to provide Mali GPU components for their new ARM A9 based SoC.

The A15 takes things to the next level by pairing the out-of-order nature of the A9 with the expansive feature list (virtualization support, double-precision floating point, ECC cache) that characterizes the Atom line, and that costs Atom in terms of power. In this respect, the A15 looks somewhat like AMD’s recently unveiled Bobcat core, to the point that I would be very curious to see a comparison of the transistor counts of the two cores.

The A15 is directly targeted at laptops, power tablets and the server market. Although, contrary to John’s assertions I think we may well see a variant of this in smaller mobile platforms also.

Intel are probably doing the maths right now on how they can possibly convince the powers that be that it is OK for them to buy ARM.

Posted: September 10th, 2010
Categories: ARM, Speculation, intel
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