Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Gunning for ARM

I'm a fan of ARM Processors - it's the most successful CPU on the planet today, by a factor of 3 or more. ARM processors go inside pretty much every mobile phone these days (it's possible, though unlikely, that some low-end phones don't have one); hundreds of millions of gadgets have them (from handheld games consoles to Network servers); they're so ubiquitous that it's worth using them for ultra-low-end microcontrollers[1][2] and it's popping an ARM processor in pretty much any device: the Marvell WLAN used inside the OLPC uses one for example.

ARM CPUs are successful, because they are actually a good design: Lean and Clean; they do more with transistors than x86 ever can; spanning a range of CPUs from <100k transistors and up to several hundred MHz with the Arm11.

So, I was really surprised to find OLPC failing to use and surprised further that Intel sold off it's ARM-based XScale CPU range last year. But now it's becoming clear, Intel are now anti-ARM and want to push their inherently inefficient x86 CPUs to ultramobiles and even PDAs.

With Moorestown Intel want to use x86 where ARM would make more sense. But probably the most annoying thing is their justification for it: "Second, if you want to get a great experience surfing the Internet, you need an IA-32 Intel architecture, because the Internet is written around it" This is just complete absolutely untrue FUD - the internet is written around being CPU independent - and that's how it should be.

People are gunning for ARM, we need to be more active when advocating it.