May 27 2010

Marvell To Create $100 Tablet

Marvell Technologies has announced today that it will partner with the One Laptop Per Child foundation to create a $100 tablet, named the XO-3. The foundation achieved great success with the XO-1 laptop computer for children in developing countries.

More details about the XO-3 have emerged. It will have a power rating of 1 watt per hour, a multilingual, multitouch screen keyboard, WiFi, high quality video, and Flash 10 Internet. It will be based on an ARM processor, most likely the Marvell Armada 610, and run Google’s Android OS.

According to OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte, the XO-3 will eventually have an adaptable screen to allow for viewing in either sunlight or inside. The tablet will allegedly be 10.8 millimeters thick, which rivals the iPad.

The tablet is planned to be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2011.

Via CNET, image via OLPC.

Apr 22 2010

Apple Buyout of ARM Just a Rumor

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.

Feb 13 2010

HP Smartbook vs Apple iPad

HP’s Compaq Airlife 100, the company’s first smartbook that was announced on Friday, combines the portability and design of a netbook with the hardware and software often seen in smartphones. The Airlife has a battery life of up to 12 hours, longer than what most netbooks can offer. While the Airlife and iPad are very different in terms of design, they share many similar features such as simplified software interfaces, touch-screens, and ARM processors (most netbooks use Intel processors). The two devices also both make it easy to quickly access the Internet and browse online content.

Here is a quick comparison of the differences between the smartbook and tablet:

10.1 in touch screen
Wi-fi b/g (optional 3G wireless broadband connectivity)
2.2 lbs
Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
(1 GHz)
16 GB internal storage
512 MB flash storage
Android OS
Supports Flash
Folded design

9.7 in touch screen
802.11n Wi-fi (optional 3G/Bluetooth)
1.5 lbs
Apple A4 chip (1 GHz)
16, 32, or 64 GB of storage
No Flash support
720p HD video support
On-screen keyboard only

HP is not distributing the Airlife in the US just yet, while the iPad is roughly 50 days away from becoming available worldwide. The company also has not yet released pricing information for the new device.

Via PCWorld image via CNET

Feb 4 2010

ARM Chief Predicts Netbooks Due To Dominate Market


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.

Via Engadget.

Jan 26 2010

Acer To Deliver New eReader, App Store, and Chrome OS Netbook

Acer Logo

Acer, already the second largest computer maker in the world, has ambitious plans for the future. According to Bloomberg, Acer is tossing its hat into the already over-saturated yet underdeveloped market of eReaders, facing off with the likes of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others. No specifics have been announced other than it will have a 6-inch, monochrome (assume E-Ink) screen and ship in Europe.

More surprisingly, Acer is announcing an online apps store. Jim Wong, president of the Acer IT product division, has stated it would contain hundreds of applications, “otherwise you can’t call it an app store.” It will likely be a cross-platform marketplace for Android, Windows Mobile, and ChromeOS.

However, Acer’s most stunning announcement is the fact it has announced plans to rush forward with a ChromeOS netbook to provide a “a change to the Microsoft-Intel environment,” according to Wong. The mention of Intel hints that this new product line might be ARM powered as an alternative to the standard Atom on-board most mainstream netbooks. Acer plans to release the netbook sometime around Q3 2010, on schedule with Google’s release date for ChromeOS.

Via Bloomberg, image via Wikipedia.

Dec 1 2009

ARM COO Graham Budd Interviewed About Netbooks

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.

Nov 4 2009

Linux Will Have Increased Presence as Netbook OS

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.

Via ComputerWorld.

Oct 28 2009

Atom Vs. ARM: A Battle of Processor Power

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?

Via CIO.

Oct 4 2009

Broadcom Plans Netbook Device

Chip maker Broadcom, known for its communication technologies, recently launched their new tool for enabling HD video on netbooks – the Broadcom Crystal HD Enhanced Media Accelerator.

The company may have also licensed ARM Cortex A9 multicore processor technology in order to implement the Media Accelerator. If their chips are widely implemented in netbooks or MIDs the results could be devices with stronger, cheaper media capabilities.

The fact that the Broadcom Enhanced Media Accelerator is based on ARM architecture means we can also expect it to use less energy than products from Intel, VIA, or AMD. However, most major Windows OSes won’t work on ARM devices.

Sep 28 2009

ARM To Overtake Intel By 2012 in Netbook/Smartbook Battle

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.

Via EeTimes.

Image via TrustedReviews.

Sep 18 2009

ARM Plans Most Competitive Netbook CPU Yet

Intel is king in the netbook CPU world, but ARM has always tried to get an edge in on what seems to be an unbreakable market. However, the new 40nm Cortex-A9 MPCore processors by ARM may just change that.

The Cortex-A9 ARM chip has two cores and runs at 2 GHz – faster than the 1.6 GHz and 1.66 GHz Atom models. While it will be available for a number of form factors, netbooks are clearly in ARM’s headlights.

The A9 has some perks the Atom doesn’t. It’s 60% smaller, uses two cores, and may offer “up to 5x the performance of Atom for a lower cost and comparable power consumption.” It sounds like an attractive package, and with no limits on the components it can be combined with, ARM may just have found the formula we’ve all been waiting for.

Via Geek.

Aug 4 2009

Smartbook, ARM Netbooks On The Way


The smartbook looms on the horizon, and a battle between ARM and the Atom may be afoot. Rumor jockey DigiTimes claims that we’ll be seeing these netbook competitors in the last quarter of this year.

The new machines will rumoredly pack the Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU and the NVIDIA Tegra line, and could come from household name slike ASUS, Acer, and Foxconn. Chinese netbook maker Compal could also have a hand in upcoming ARM netbooks, as well as Inventec and Mobinnova.

Always Innovating will also be releasing its magnetic Touch Book very soon.

At the end of the day, it’s looking like Intel’s Atom netbook CPU and the ARM Cortex A8 will be having a face-off by Christmas. Word has it that the A8 could be a cheaper and more efficient device than the Intel Atom, so it will be exciting to see these giants clash later this year.

Via Arstechnica.

Jun 29 2009

Always Innovating’s Detachable Magnetic Netbook In Production

Always Innovating Touch Book

The Always Innovating Touch Book is finally going into production. It’s turning a lot of heads with one fantastic new feature – the ability to detach the touch display from the keyboard for use as a tablet.

The display is an 8.9-inch pressure sensitive tablet with a magnetic back. The accompanying keyboard is 95% of full size, and together, the Touch Book acts like your average netbook.

Space is a definite downside, with a mere 8 GB from the SD card. The CPU is the OMAP3530, an ARM chip by Texas Instruments. The netbook has 256 MB of RAM and 256 MG of NAND memory.

Bonus features include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 3D accelerometer and three USB ports for netbook accessories.

Pricing is the same as previously announced – $300 for the tablet alone or $400 for the whole deal. The Touch Book is a tad weaker than most netbooks, but if you’re looking for an all-around awesome gadget to impress your friends, it might just be the device for you.

Via Wired.

Jun 7 2009

No Windows 7 For ARM Netbooks

Windows 7

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.

Via ZDNet.

May 31 2009

Smartbook Encroaches Upon Netbook Territory

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.

Via TheNewYorkTimes.

May 21 2009

2010 Netbooks to Be Netbook/Smartphone Hybrids

The first netbooks in 2007 were small, light, and cheap. As consumers’ tastes changed over the past couple of years, the average netbook size and price has increased slightly and netbooks have been equipped with faster processors.

Future netbooks are rumored to combine the best features of current netbooks and smartphones and will have new processors and operating systems as well. Here are some things to look out for:

1. Netbook processors: Netbook processors will be more powerful and have greater capabilities. Newer processors will use less power and thus allow netbooks to operate for longer periods of time. Some potential manufacturers for these newer processors include: Texas Instruments, Freescale, and Qualcomm. The Snapdragon processor by Qualcomm that only uses 500 milliwatts of power has acquired a good amount of attention and is something to watch out for in the future.

2. Netbook operating systems: Netbooks originally started out with Linux, but when Windows was available to be pre-installed, many more purchases of netbooks with the Windows operating software pre-installed were purchased. In the future, more netbooks will run on new(er) operating systems, such as Google’s Android.

3. Apple: There are still many rumors about if Apple plans on breaking into the netbook market. And then if it does, will it issue a netbook or some other related device? There’s always the chance that Apple could even come up with something to revolutionize the netbook market altogether. The company’s currently keeping mum about this, but we’ll keep you posted.

4. Other Developments: Netbooks will continue to evolve, and in general, will be cheaper and better performing in the future. Some things to look out for are the new Windows 7 operating system for netbooks and the development of Snapdragon-based netbooks.

5. Price: Pricing for netbooks is expected to drop in the future. There will also be more discount packages for these mobile devices. For example, in the future, ARM-based netbooks are predicted to be sold for roughly $200 and currently, cell phone companies such as AT&T sell subsidized netbooks for $50, with a two year monthly-data plan contract. (For now though, the latter is only in Philadelphia and Atlanta).

Despite all the signs of netbook evolution, some people are still skeptical about the future of these mobile computing devices. Any opinions?

Via PCWorld.

May 1 2009

Palm To Resurrect Foleo As ARM-Based Linux Netbook

According to an analyst from Global Equities Research, Palm is planning to reintroduce its Foleo device as a netbook. Take a look:

Palm Foleo

The $399 device is a renewal of Palm’s “mobile companion” device that two years ago fell off the face off the earth almost immediately after its release. The Linux-based machine required Bluetooth connection to a Palm phone for Web access.

Will the Palm Foleo see success the second time around? It was originally meant for mere email, but perhaps in its second coming we’ll see some new features and capability. GER already thinks it will be using a Qualcomm Gobi 3G chip, ARM CPU, and manage 8-10 hours of battery life.

Via Barron’s.

Apr 14 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 and ARM: What They Mean For Netbooks

Ubuntu is getting a new update on the 23rd of this month, and it is going to mean some interesting things for netbooks. Jaunty Jackalope, version 9.04 of the popular Linux OS, is adding an additional ISA to the feature set. The big news for netbooks is that Ubuntu 9.04 is going to “natively include an ARM installation for ARM-based MIDs.”

Ubuntu 9.04

While Intel’s Atom CPU is known for its efficiency and high power in comparison to other chips on the market, ARM is cheaper. This “battle at the low-end” is focusing on battery life, a category in which Linux excels over Windows, and ARM is capitalizing on that ability.

And not only is ARM taking a stand in cooperating with Ubuntu – a late announcement is saying that “individuals can go to the ARM website and custom build their own CPUs in any quantity they want.” It’s not completely sure what this will mean in practice, but it’s looking like Linux is courting the netbook market with more features and more customization than ever before. ARM will take a huge stand in this new partnership, and who knows – the age where 96% of netbooks run Windows may just be over.

Via Geek.

Mar 10 2009

ARM May Occupy 55% Of Netbook Market By 2012

According to a report from The Information Network, ARM should occupy 55% of the netbook market by 2012.

While many might doubt ARM’s capacity to overtake Intel in netbook chipmaking a few business analysts think change is on the way. It’s easy to take the Atom’s dominance for granted, but we have to remember that the market is exceedingly young.

An analyst from The Information Network, Robert Castellano, thinks netbooks running the ARM Cortex-A9 architecture running Linux will take the market by storm, bringing lower prices than Microsoft will be willing to handle. The multicore A9 will be cheaper than the Atom by 2012, and Castellano thinks cloud computing will dismiss the need for local storage.

There are naturally a few problems with this analysis. Currently 90% of the netbooks on the market run Windows, and even if a huge shift in market change takes place, Castellano’s prediction also necessitates that consumers start loving cloud computing a whole lot more. Not everyone feels secure with their information on the web and would much rather it in their netbook than someone else’s hands.

Be sure to check out the rest of the article for more information.

Via ArsTechnica.

Feb 28 2009

ARM-Linux Combo Expected For Nokia Netbook

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.

Via Arstechnica.


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