Otellini predicts ARM's Transmeta-like fate

October 26, 2012 | 10:28

Tags: #microserver #paul-otellini #soc #system-on-chip #windows-8 #windows-rt

Companies: #amd #arm #otellini #raspberry-pi #seamicro #via

Intel's chief executive Paul Otellini has again spoken out against Cambridge-based low-power chip giant ARM, indicating increasing concern at the company regarding the latter's encroachment on Intel's core competencies of desktop and server markets.

Speaking to AllThingsD, Otellini rubbished ARM's long-term chances in the PC and server market. Conjuring up the names VIA Technologies and Transmeta, low-power chip specialists whose market shares sat at around 0.1 per cent until the latter folded in 2009, Otellini suggested that ARM's assault on the desktop, laptop and server markets is over before it's even begun.

'I happen to be around long enough to remember [VIA and Transmeta],' Otellini told AllThingsD. 'People come and go, and we’ve never had an exclusive, if you will. And, overall, the best chip has won.'

In addition to comparing ARM's chances against his company to those of VIA and Transmeta, Otellini took the opportunity of the interview to badmouth Microsoft's Windows RT - the Windows 8 offshoot aimed at tablets running on ARM architecture system-on-chip (SoC) processors - by bringing up the well-established lack of compatibility for legacy x86 applications.

Otellini's comments, which are hardly the first Intel's CEO has made against both Windows RT and ARM itself, reveal a company which is eyeing its Cambridge low-power rival with concern - and well it might: despite Otellini's assurance that x86 and x86-64 are the One True Architecture, interest in ARM outside the mobile ecosystem is growing. Google has recently launched an ARM-based Chromebook laptop manufactured by Samsung, which sold out within a single day of being listed for purchase, while AMD's SeaMicro subsidiary is expected to announce a new many-core ARM-based microserver early next week.

The only market left for ARM - or, to be precise, its multitudinous licensees - to poke its nose into is the desktop, where it has been relegated to niche products like the RISC OS-based A9home. With growing interest in low-cost development boards like the Raspberry Pi, however, that could well change - and then Intel would have real cause for concern at the lucrative budget end of the market.
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