Will More Computers be ARMed with Low-Power CPUs in 2009?


armStacey has a great thought post up at GigaOM that underscores some of the trend I and others have been noticing. It seems to me that the combination of Android and netbooks are raising ARM awareness, which clearly Intel doesn’t want. Even the iPhone, which runs on an ARM processor, is showing folks what you can do with an energy-efficient CPU. Long gone are the days of chasing the CPU clock cycle leader for a mobile device. We’re at the tipping point now where the CPUs can do just enough and they don’t need to eat up 30-, 50- or 60-Watts to do it. One watt or less, when combined with a light, optimized environment goes a long way today.

In fairness, I’m not in total agreement with the title of Stacey’s great post, which is “Netbooks and the Death of x86 Computing”. Traditional x86 computing will be around for years to come, but it’s not the only game in town any longer. It really never was, considering that most smartphones since early this decade ran on ARM-based devices. But the ARM licensees are showing that they’re ready to compete in this space, for real. Are the stars aligning for 2009 showdown between ARM and x86 chips like Intel’s Atom? I think so for reasons I’ve mentioned before, but the news out of CES will set the stage for the year. Stay tuned…



I’m with Heath. I’ve enjoyed the hell outta my precious Advantage X7501 — it’s my constant companion. If they could give us a Gigabyte/Kohjinsha-sized tablet with an ARM and running Windows Mobile 6.1/6.5/7, I’d be set. I’d have all-day power, and could add Softmaker Office to support MS Office docs, Coreplayer for movies, PocketTunes and Rhapsody for music, and the latest Opera browser. Of course, WiFi/3G would be supported. What else would I need? Bring it on, I say!!


hell, i would be very happy with a windows mobile7/android like OS on a netbook/old jornada 720 clamshell mini notebook form factor based on an ARM architecture, if great battery life can in fact be a real feature of it.. all basic everyday tasks can be achieved, with good multimedia features as well.. the problem is it would probably still fall in the niche category or products, thus probably never happening..


Anybody who can replace a PC/laptop with something running on an ARM chip needs to get a proper job. The only thing the iPhone has “taught” us is that you can run a mobile phone on ARM. The only problem is that we already knew that because Windows Mobile-based phones and Pocket PCs have been doing that for years.

We’ve been seeing these sort of claims for years now and I think the year of Linux is likely to arrive before the year of ARM.


The Android G1 phone has clearly demonstrated that it takes more than simply Android and an ARM CPU to produce energy efficiency.

iRex is another shining example of how Linux and an ARM CPU don’t automatically equal energy efficiency. Did you notice how their 2nd generation ebook reader has suddenly jumped $100 in price and still sucks the battery dry like a vampire?

Personally I’ve been impressed with build 7000 of Windows 7. Maybe Microsoft finally “gets it” and will have a viable Netbook OS for the Atom CPU.

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