A rumor originated in London this week concerning the possibility of Apple buying chip designer ARM. Such a move would be messy, pricey, and unpopular and has since been confirmed as just a rumor, as the two companies are not engaged in talks with each other.
Such an acquisition would probably cause some regulatory scrutiny. Though ARM is a small company, it licenses technology to many chipmakers such as Texas Instruments, Samsung, and Nvidia. Furthermore, if Apple owned ARM, many people would question the independence of ARM, no matter how many times Apple emphasized independence.
The acquisition would also be very expensive for Apple. Apple has about $40 billion right now, but ARM would cost up to $8 billion, which certainly is not cheap. It would be foolish for Apple to buy the company when it could just license the technology instead.
Via CNET, image via ARM.
The recent media storm concerning one particular tablet has shifted the discussion regarding the role and future of netbooks. Following Acer’s pithy rebuttal of the tablet trend sweeping manufacturers, ARM has announced to the world that, not only are netbooks here to stay, but they are destined to become the norm of the PC world.
Tossing out an astonishing estimate, ARM CEO Warren East stated in an interview with PC Pro that while netbooks may only compose 10% of the PC market now, we should expect that figure to reach 90% within the next few years. Now, as much as I love netbooks, this prediction certainly deserves a double-take, as it basically casts desktops and laptops into oblivion. Also, there is no clear answer to whether East is referring to only the traditional netbook platform or if he means to include the entire mobile PC platform, including tablets.
East, of course, would have everything to gain from this arrangement. While he may not have a stranglehold (or to be honest even a foot) in the netbook CPU market, he points out that every netbook released has at least several ARM chips powering various components of it. However, he remains ambitious and announced earlier plans for the Cortex-A9 to be able to reach clock speeds of 2 GHz and a quad-core configuration.
ARM and Intel have been duking it out over netbook CPU dominance for ages, with the Atom usually in the winning side. But ARM says that is bound to change, and COO Graham Budd has stepped up in a recent interview to answer some questions about where he thinks netbooks and ARM are going.
Budd first emphasized an oft-repeated claim by ARM: consumers don’t like netbooks. While oodles of data from industry analysts beg to differ, Budd nonetheless claims that ARM can bring an end to this ‘dilemma’:
People who buy a netbook also think they are buying a cheap laptop. And then they get disappointed that it can’t do what a laptop does. … [ARM] will provide a rich internet experience, as good as X86 processor ones. The boot time will be faster, the battery life will be substantially higher, and the cost will be lower . ARM-based netbooks will also be smaller because we don’t have to put in a fan to cool the processor , as its energy consumption is very low.
Specifically, Budd thinks average netbook prices could drop below $200 bucks. But it will take more than price drops to get ARM more netbook market share, as Graham Budd acknowledges – he says consumers will be impressed by netbook models packing the Cortex A8, due in 2010, and the Cortex A9 for beefier machines.
You can check out the full interview here.
ABI Research, whose recent projections for the netbook industry expected 35 million netbook sales for 2009, announced that in 2009 Linux will represent 32% of netbook sales. Microsoft, on the other hand, claims the number is around 7%.
Furthermore, ABI says Linux wil overtake Windows by 2013 due to netbook sales in less-developed countries.
An increasing number of netbooks running on the ARM processor are expected to propel Linux over Windows as the leading processor by 2013. This is expected to be driven by consumers in less-developed countries that buy a Linux netbook as their primary PC.
How will Microsoft react to the increased presence of Linux? Maybe it’ll start discounting the price for Windows Embedded CE or Windows Mobile, versions of the OS that are able to run on ARM processors within netbooks.
Intel has been quite successful, partially due to the popularity of netbooks and thus the popularity of Intel Atom processors that comes with netbooks and ultraportable laptops. In fact, Intel is becoming so successful that they are looking into expanding the use of their chipsets in the realms of headsets, media players, TVs, and other digital electronic devices.
Of course, there’s stiff competition in this market. One major rival is ARM Holdings, located in Cambridge, England. While many people may not have heard of ARM, it’s no doubt a significant player in the market for processors of digital electronic devices. For example, if you take any random cell phone, there’s a 95% chance that it contains at least one ARM processor. If you take any cell phone that was made in the past five years, this percentage increases to 100.
We’ll keep watch as Intel tries to make its way into the rest of the digital electronics market and keep you posted on any news we hear. In the meanwhile, who do you think would win this battle – if it even comes to that?
As prices drop in the PC market due to competition by netbooks, the demand for netbooks has been a tremendous boon for the rest of the tech sector. Chip stocks seem to have felt the greatest effect so far.
Gartner recently reported that the worst of the recession may have passed for PC makers. With netbook projections initially set at 21 million, Gartner raised the number to 25 million for 2009.
iSupply analyst Len Jelinek has corroborated Gartner’s findings in an email to TheStreet:
“Intel with its Atom processor is definitely increasing sales and is poised to continue growth as they drive technology and performance with their next generation technology.”
Currently, Intel claims 94% of the netbook/smartbook market, but according to Robert Castellano of market research firm The Information Network, by 2012, the tables will have turned, and ARM will own the leading market share (estimated at roughly 55%).
In 2009, the market for Intel-powered netbooks totals 22.1 million units while that for ARM-powered smartbooks totals 1.4 million. In 2010, Intel netbooks will total 31.1 million and ARM smartbooks will total 7.8 million. By 2012, Intel plans to ship 43.2 million netbooks, which is more or less an on-par estimate, but ARM plans to ship a whopping 52.9 million smartbook units. This would give ARM a 55% share of the market, leaving Intel with a 45% share.
According to The Information Network, the demand for smartbooks, “because of their design and need for cloud connectivity, will grow even more strongly,” giving the smartbook segment a chance to overtake netbook demand and sales. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on the progress of this situation.
Image via TrustedReviews.
Microsoft has said no to Windows 7 on ARM netbooks. Considering its tendency to partner with Intel and AMD, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise – however, as the OLPC Project moved to ARM earlier this year, it was rumored that Microsoft would port Windows to ARM CPUs for netbooks.
The official statement came out June 3rd:
“At this time, Windows 7 does not support any ARM architecture. Currently, Windows works on both x86 and x64 platforms, which, thanks to the pervasive PC hardware standard, power the vast majority of the world’s laptops and desktops. In the specialized devices space, where ARM is well suited, we offer the Windows Embedded CE platform.”
It should be noted that that wasn’t a never, but rather that Windows 7 isn’t available for now. Could it be that Microsoft just failed to throw its ARM version of 7 together in time? We’ll likely know for sure in the next few months.
The ARM processor, a less powerful processor than the Intel Atom, is making its way into the “smartbook.” Essentially, smartbooks are mobile computing devices that will be similar to (but less powerful than) netbooks.
On the plus side, smartbooks tend to have longer battery lives, but they will also run on the Linux operating system instead of Windows. Several software companies, such as Adobe and Broadcom, are rumored to be developing programs that are compatible with the ARM processor and future smartbooks.
The term “smartbook” is based off the term “smartphone.” Many new terms such as this are popping up all over the place, as more unique computing technology is revealed. There are discussions over the use of the term “netbook,” and many parties have different names for the same thing.
Industry analysts currently refer to netbooks as “mini notebooks” while Microsoft has referred to them in the past as “ultra mobile PCs.” Some interesting/new definitions may even pop up at the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan next week.
If you’re looking for a a new gadget to drool over go no further – we’ve found it for you. The new Touch Book is the living embodiment of its manufacturer’s namesake, Always Innovating.
The netbook, as demonstrated by CEO Gregoire Gentil, has a detachable keyboard so you can use the screen’s magnetic mount to put it on the refrigerator. Imagine this greeting you when you fumble for your Wheaties in the morning:
Yes, it’s that awesome. The netbook comes together like a Megazord for the use of its Linux OS for ordinary functions, and detaches for alternative uses with the magnet. It rocks an ARM CPU, and interesting change of pace from the altogether overdone Intel Atom.
And that’s not all. The best part is this machine manages 10-15 hours of battery life and is available for preorder right now. You can get it for $399 as is, or for $299 sans keyboard.
Phone manufacturers’ adaptation to the netbook craze hasn’t stopped with the LG X120. The new kid on the block is Nokia, or so some recent clues have led us to believe.
Nokia didn’t say ‘netbook’ just yet, but in an interview covered by Reuters the manufacturer spoke a lot about the convergence of PC and mobile technology. They’re “looking very actively” to join that market, but specifics are scant. IThe whole thing reeks of netbook though, so more investigation is warranted.
But how would Nokia make its entrance? An Atom machine might be a cheap choice, but another suggestion mentioned by Arstechnica would be an ARM-Linux combo.
The expectation is that a 2009 or 2010 Nokia netbook would benefit from the Atom or the upcoming Intel Moorestown, as near-term ARM options are somewhat limited. However, a netbook delivered by 2011 would most likely stick to ARM hardware, “in order to leverage Nokia’s substantial investments in ARM hardware and software, and in an ARM-based supply chain.”
But why Linux for a Nokia netbook?
The first reason is quite simple – Nokia has put a lot of money into ARM Linux platforms, such as the Maemo operating system. Also, Nokia sponsored a group known as the Handheld Mojo team to design an unofficial Ubuntu port specific to ARM processors. Canonical announced its own ARM port due around the time of the Ubuntu 9.04 release this April. With all that cash going to ARM, it’s looking like Nokia will want to see something for its efforts. Arstechnica summed it up:
“So Nokia could adapt Maemo to make it netbook-friendly, it could adopt the Ubuntu ARM port, or it could create a hybrid that leverages components of both. The hybrid possibility isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds in this case, as there is a lot of overlap between the technologies that are used in Ubuntu and in Maemo… There are a lot of shared components at many different layers of the stack.”
Throwing Linux into the mix might be a smart choice considering some of its recent successes, so we’re definitely fascinated by the idea of a Nokia netbook.
ARM has made an announcement: it has developed a new multi-core processor, designated for netbooks and cell phones.
‘Sparrow’, the new processor is based on the Cortex A9 architecture. It also takes from the A8 processors, which powers devices like the Palm Pre.
What will it be used for? Some even speculate that it will find itself inside the next generation of iPhone, boosting it to about three times its speed.
Netbook chips are a contentious category, and if the Sparrow processor wants any attention it’s going to have to steal some from Intel and the Atom. For now, “companies such as Adobe and Symbian” will be adjusting their apps to optimize them for the extra cores in the Sparrow CPU.
All that time you spend watching a Windows load screen may soon be a thing of the past.
Quick-boot technology has been around, but rarely applied to real computing – luckily, with the rise of netbooks, it has found a place.
The idea of this quick-book netbook technology is that netbook users could surf the web, view, images, or check their email without even loading Windows. Lenovo and Sony demonstrated quick-booting machines at CES this week.
Lenovo updated the Lenovo Ideapad S10 to have quick-boot capabilities with a Quick Start software based on the Linux OS of DeviceVM. Sony is now offering the Cross Media Bar navigation system to access multimedia instantly, something we should be seeing in the Vaio P Series.
According to the VP of Global Consumer Marketing at Lenovo, Craig Merrigan, netbooks are exactly where quick-boot should be used. “The netbook usage scenario is kind of a grab it, use it, put it back sort of situation. We believe it optimizes for that quick boot-type of environment,” he said.
Lenovo doesn’t plan to put quick-boot into mainstream notebooks. Machines with the power for content creation achieve that better with a full-fledged operating system.
“For mainstream notebooks when you are doing a greater variety of things… the quick-boot environment doesn’t support that all that well so we think that it’s better left to netbooks at this time,” said Merrigan.
The director of Phonex Technologies product management, Anand Nadathur, said the applications and drivers that slow down PC boot times aren’t what computer users want all the time. “When users start their PC in the morning, they are not looking for the full-fledged OS to come up and do some amazing things. They just look for a simple browser so they can check e-mail.” With this in mind, Phonex introduced a quick-boot environment called HyperSpace Dual at CES. HyperSpace Dual is meant for netbooks and laptops, and is downloadable at the Phoenix website for $39.95 for one year or $99.95 for three.
Freescale, who partnered with the post-ASUS Pegatron to deliver their own netbooks at CES 2009, talked about quick-boot plans with Qualcomm. They want netbooks starting as fast or faster than smartphones.
Heise Online, in a press release from Freescale, detailed a new ARM processor and one curious depiction of some kind of tablet-style Apple netbook:
A picture included in their press release hints that the Freescale SoC may appear in a future Apple netbook. The vendor also envisages budget notebooks with Ubuntu Linux and i.MX51 under people’s Christmas trees in 2009.
Here’s the image in question:
The image there seems like stuff we’ve seen before. The actual press release was not provided. Is this another concept shot? More as the story develops.
Qualcomm has big stakes in the netbook business. For four years it’s been feverishly working on a $350 million chip to be used in netbooks, which shall be based on the Snapdragon processor.
The prototype will be released next year and is expected to be a departure from the style of Intel’s Atom chip.
Manjit Gill of Qualcomm’s Connected and Consumer Products Group thinks the market is in the mood for more connectivity, not just processing power. “Our vision is that [the device is] always connected. Even when you shut it down, it’s still ‘on’.”
This ‘always on’ business means you can instantly get on a server and check your email as soon as you open up your netbook. This is the kind of thing Intel can’t do right now – Gill believes the “limitations in the [Intel] architecture” separates the Qualcomm chip from the Atom. On an Atom chip, leaving it on all the time would suck up all the battery.
To contrast, the Atom is a more agile device despite its lack of integration.
But Intel’s not Qualcomm’s biggest competitor, for the moment. ARM, whose processors are featured in most mobile devices today, has the model Qualcomm’s trying to imitate.
It got a license for ARM’s architecture, threw $350 million at it, and now we see the result: the Qualcomm QSD8672 dual-core Snapdragon. It has two CPUs which can manage 1.5GHz performance, download speeds of up to 28 MB/s, 1080p HD video, Wi-Fi, and HSPA+. The chip even has mobile TV and GPS.
Qualcomm will also use technology from ATI to power the graphics core of the chip. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company will build the processor at 45 nm. Devices by ASUS, Acer, and Toshiba are already being planned with the Snapdragon in mind. Watch out, Intel!
The UK-based mobile phone chip designer ARM recently announced that it will feature Ubuntu, the open-source Linux operating system, on its upcoming netbooks.
Noting that ARM is known for the long battery life of its mobile phones, analysts believe the joined forces will produce something ideal – efficient, light-weight, cheap netbooks. Increased battery life is enticing for buyers, for whom netbooks’ compatiability with their busy schedules is a main concern.
ARM’s Vice President of Marketing Ian Drew said the aspect of mobile devices that is most quickly growing is “the always-on experience.” Increased battery life will be a necessity in the coming months as the emphasis on this feature continues to grow.
“The release of a full Ubuntu desktop distribution supporting latest ARM technology will enable rapid growth, with internet everywhere, connected ultra portable devices,” Drew continued, emphasizing the positive prospects of the partnership.
The ARMv7 architecture, including ARM Cortex-A8 and Cortex-A9 processor-based systems, are expected to be the aspects utilized by the Ubuntu Desktop OS.
The COO of Canonical, Ubuntu’s commercial sponsor, focused on the varied choices this partnership will give consumers, stating that “[ensuring] that a fully-functional, optimised Ubuntu distribution is available to the ARM ecosystem” will offer “wider choice for consumers looking for the best operating system for their digital lifestyles.”
“This is a natural development for Ubuntu, driven by the demand from manufacturers for an ARM technology-based version.”
It is likely that this partnership will create even more competition with Intel’s Atom, especially given the recent announcement from AMD.
According to Rob Coombs, Director of Mobile Marketing at ARM, the first devices should be seen around the time of the June Computex show next year. We’ll keep an eye out.