ARM CEO: We won't be beaten by Intel on efficiency

By Lee Kaelin on January 16, 2012, 8:30 AM

Intel announced new partnerships and two new smartphones with Lenovo and Motorola Mobility in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, as the processor giant put ARM on notice of its intention to compete in the low power consumption smartphone and tablet markets.

Lenovo’s K800 smartphone debuted at the show, featuring Intel’s 32nm Medfield Atom Z2460 single core processor with hyper threading clocked at 1.6GHz. Motorola’s offering is currently in the final processes of preparation and is due to be delivered for carrier validation this summer.

However, Warren East, CEO of the dominant chip maker ARM Holdings isn’t concerned about Intel’s latest effort to challenge their lead. "Intel has taken some designs that were never meant for mobile phones and they've literally wrenched those designs and put them into a power-performance space which is roughly good enough for mobile phones," he said.

The announcement by Intel during CES came as no surprise really, though many industry insiders have questioned whether the firm's dominance on the computer stage can be tamed and put to good use in smartphones where battery performance can be a severe limitation for processors.

"People want to do more things with their phones, but battery size remains constant," said East. "It's like having a car with a fixed-size fuel tank and you want to drive 100 more miles. You've got to make the engine more efficient. That's what we do for a living.”

ARM has every right to feel confident at this point. The British company currently licenses their ARM chips to over 250 different hardware and software companies including its new ARM Cortex A7 design, which offers a 20-percent reduction in power consumption whilst improving performance over previous designs.

Microsoft’s next operating system will also run on ARM’s processors natively, opening up a whole new spectrum of potential uses in Windows 8 based ultraportable notebooks and power efficient computers. The firm’s upcoming ARMv8 64 bit architecture will also compete against Intel in the PC and server markets, and while it might not win awards for raw power, it will offer reduced power consumption and efficiency that could potentially massively reduce ongoing monthly costs when used for the right applications in the server market.

It is certainly going to be an interesting year for both companies as they launch in various markets in direct competition with each other. While I don’t think either firm will overturn the dominance they exert in their respective markets, the competition will almost certainly result in better products for consumers.

User Comments: 6

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hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure ARM designs and licenses their architecture out to others for them to make the (physical) chips.

Leeky Leeky said:

I believe that is the case, though they do also produce chips as well, they mainly license them out to other vendors which in turn them them to hardware manufacturers for smartphones and tablets etc.

I don't believe this article calls that into question though?

VitalyT VitalyT said:

ARM isn't arsed, ha, but neither is Intel, taking over slowly but surely

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think if Intel at some point in time is able to adopt a tick-tock like model for its mobile platform, ARM will surely start to get in to trouble, simply because they can't match Intel when it comes to available resources. Also the fact that Intel with its 'first' mobile SoC (at least during this round) has been able to get near to ARM is remarkable in itself, just imagine things when (in all probability) Intel will beat them to say 14nm in 2014, couple that with future development/addition of new features/power efficiency etc. and one can imagine how things can change. Being a fab-less entity makes you lean and nimble, but it also means you can't really dictate the development of more efficient chip-making processes, hence, IMO longer term advantage can go to Intel.

Also as a consumer I would rather have a multi-horse race, then a total monopoly which stagnates the market in anyway.

Guest said:

Why a ARM? Surley they thought of Fingure, and really give it to intel

Guest said:

With or without Intel, the mobile processor market is a multi-horse race: TSMC, TI, Qualcomm, Samsung, Marvell, etc all license ARM IP and then add their own IP and their own manufacturing capabilities. ARM is a standard that enhances competition. Why? Because smart phone and tablet manufacturers can pick and choose among these chip makers knowing that their software and firmware can be re-used. They can swap chips without starting over from scratch.

Intel is the leader in IC manufacturing and process, but Intel is also addicted to selling expensive and high margin chips. Can they compete with the ARM menagerie which is not just power efficient, but also price efficient?

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