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 Post subject: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:42 pm 
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Posts: 235
In a desperate attempt to avoid the Intel fanboy fest, I came across an article by Ashlee Vance. I didn't even catch that he left The Register, so double interest there. Here it is:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/techn ... .html?_r=1
Interesting thoughts. With GNU/Linux entrenched in netbooks (even free XP copies seems to be unable to kick GNU/Linux out of that market for some reason), the step to ARM is not that far away. Blobs are becoming less of a problem everyday, quicker than I thought a year ago.

Are we seeing the start of real competition on CPU architecture, ending the x86 hegemony? GNU/Linux drivers, OS and apps are usually easily portable across architectures, enabling a fast paced turnover of CPU architectures.

How about EPIC, seems to me that many of the advantages of the Itanium architecture may actually be better (or more easily) suited to this market than the high end (which typically seems to favour high volume and high price parts like Nehalem).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:17 am 
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Where is the evidence that linux is entrenched in netbooks? Every time I've looked at Amazon's top selling netbooks there is usually 1 or 2 Linux netbooks among the top 25, and these are always outside the top 10.


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:17 pm
Posts: 123
Del wrote:
Are we seeing the start of real competition on CPU architecture, ending the x86 hegemony? GNU/Linux drivers, OS and apps are usually easily portable across architectures, enabling a fast paced turnover of CPU architectures.


I'm also very interested in the effects of this latest wave of commoditization in the PC market. The best value for the money has migrated even further into the low end. But the Wintel duopoly has been able to keep its business model unchanged for a long time now.

Things like Nvidia's Tegra and Ion, better ARM or low-power x86 SoC's and decent/cheap SSDs have the potential to really change things (at least I hope).

Since Linux is already in place regarding ARM compatibility, I am hoping that someone like Google, that already puts money in OpenOffice, would be happy to supply an OS for ARM netbooks (Android or whatever) and use the opportunity as a beachhead to attack MS in their own field, where it hurts more. Also very interesting would be seeing Apple sell ARM-based computers with OS X and iWorks. Also, quickly releasing OS X and iWorks for non-Apple ARM netbooks/nettops could be a very nice way for Apple to become the Microsoft of the ARM world (in detriment to Macs, but Macs will sooner or later fade away anyway, since nowadays, despite better industrial design, they are just PCs. Apple needs new business models).

If Apple, Google, Ubuntu or others really succeed in keeping the ARM "PC" ecosystem alive and kicking, then it would be really interesting to see how long it would take for Microsoft to release WinNT for ARM (WinCE and Mobile won't cut it in netbooks or nettops). And if all that really were to happen (not very likely IMO, to be honest), Intel obviously would be the one with the most to lose.

So I was intrigued by Intel's deal with TSMC to outsource Atom, Intel's diversificaton into SSDs (a "disruptive technology" according to Moore), Larrabee and other things, and found these links below that contain some thoughts about it:


http://www.electronicsweekly.com/blogs/ ... -sign.html
http://www.beyond3d.com/content/news/722
http://www.electronicsweekly.com/blogs/ ... -atom.html
http://www.electronicsweekly.com/blogs/ ... iness.html
http://www.electronicsweekly.com/blogs/ ... intel.html
http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/20 ... o-tsmc.ars
http://www.electronicsweekly.com/Articl ... ilemma.htm

Granted, most links come from the same source, but they elaborate more on what I'm talking about (and he writes english more easily than I do).


Last edited by rcf on Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:58 am 
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Posts: 76
Can anyone tell me why Intel would completely outsource Atom to TSMC when they planned for low-power processes in the future?? What if its just parts of Atom that's not related to CPU that will be sent to TSMC??

Like why do they have the "45nm SOC process" when the best candidate for it, the Atom, can't benefit from it?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:54 am 
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Posts: 235
TacoBell wrote:
Where is the evidence that linux is entrenched in netbooks? Every time I've looked at Amazon's top selling netbooks there is usually 1 or 2 Linux netbooks among the top 25, and these are always outside the top 10.
Really? I am sorry but I am not quite up for the task of teaching you elementary statistics, so you'll have to take my word for it. Those numbers only tell you that XP-based netbooks sell better than linux-based netbooks. For all you know it might be 51/49. Try majority rule on wikipedia, and look for hints.

Even the most MS friendly numbers from the most MS dominated markets from the most MS friendly sale period from the most MS friendly analysts count in GNU/Linux for 10% market share. Then factor in the fact that MS has succeeded in restricting GNU/Linux availability to a limited number of models, and are equating the price by giving away their most attractive OS for free. How do you think the numbers would look if MS actually had to face a functioning market with full price Vista on those?

Maybe our definition of entrenched just differs? How about MS stating that it hurt their numbers significantly for the latest quarter, does that prove the entrenchment you think?

Thanks for the links rcf, look forward to reading them.


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 668
Del wrote:
In a desperate attempt to avoid the Intel fanboy fest, I came across an article by Ashlee Vance. I didn't even catch that he left The Register, so double interest there. Here it is:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/techn ... .html?_r=1
Interesting thoughts. With GNU/Linux entrenched in netbooks (even free XP copies seems to be unable to kick GNU/Linux out of that market for some reason), the step to ARM is not that far away. Blobs are becoming less of a problem everyday, quicker than I thought a year ago.

Are we seeing the start of real competition on CPU architecture, ending the x86 hegemony? GNU/Linux drivers, OS and apps are usually easily portable across architectures, enabling a fast paced turnover of CPU architectures.

How about EPIC, seems to me that many of the advantages of the Itanium architecture may actually be better (or more easily) suited to this market than the high end (which typically seems to favour high volume and high price parts like Nehalem).


I would say it's the opposite, x86 is taking more and more market from ARM and they are just trying to react. For example, few years ago ARM had 100% share in small, mobile devices (like Nokia N800/N810), now x86 based netbooks have mostly taken this segment. Currently, ARM has 100% share in smartphones, but also this will likely to change within next 5-10 years.

Moving to Linux does not remove the need for x86 compatibility since there are still a lot of binary-only software for Linux.


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 9:17 pm
Posts: 235
jack wrote:
I would say it's the opposite, x86 is taking more and more market from ARM and they are just trying to react. For example, few years ago ARM had 100% share in small, mobile devices (like Nokia N800/N810), now x86 based netbooks have mostly taken this segment.
N800 and N810 was Nokia's GNU/Linux experiment, I don't think they saw it as a laptop replacement, and it certainly did not amount to a separate market segment. It was a smartphone without the phone. I think you will understand those and their impact much better if you look at what has happened to Symbian and Trolltech.
Quote:
Currently, ARM has 100% share in smartphones, but also this will likely to change within next 5-10 years.
Yep, 100%, and where are the Atom-based offerings? Have you really thought through the power issue (read: battery time) for smartphones, or do you see Atom based offerings competing there?
Quote:
Moving to Linux does not remove the need for x86 compatibility since there are still a lot of binary-only software for Linux.
Care to share your insight on exactly what software you have in your mind? Count flash out, it is already ported to ARM.


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 3:43 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:17 pm
Posts: 123
jack wrote:
I would say it's the opposite, x86 is taking more and more market from ARM and they are just trying to react. For example, few years ago ARM had 100% share in small, mobile devices (like Nokia N800/N810), now x86 based netbooks have mostly taken this segment. Currently, ARM has 100% share in smartphones, but also this will likely to change within next 5-10 years.


ARM is reacting, but not because Atom is taking market yet, but because they see what Intel has in store for them.

AFAIK, at least for a couple more generations x86's power requirements won't go low enough for it to threaten ARM in the really low power arena where ARM is entrenched, but ARM can go high enough to touch x86 in the really low performance arena where x86 also makes LOTS of sales. The fact the most CPUs today already are overpowered for most people needs despite the bloatware, and the commoditization of good SSD's can make things interesting. ARM's biggest disadvantages for entry in this market are lack of 64-bit and even worse, lack of a software base that is comparable to the huge software base that is x86-only at this time. ARM et al will have to execute perfectly.

Quote:
Moving to Linux does not remove the need for x86 compatibility since there are still a lot of binary-only software for Linux.


Sure, but it's a different architecture after all, so incompatibility is expected. OTOH, if you want that $99 nettop or netbook that has a whole day of battery life, then you have to go with ARM.
And to the Ubuntus, Googles and Apples of this world, to become the source of the basic software stack for ARM PCs (hopefully to the point of making them gain momentum) automatically transforms them into the "Microsoft" of the ARM world exactly because ARM is incompatible and MS isn't there (yet).


PS: I hope this thread doesn't deteriorate into another Linux flamewar.


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:13 pm 
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rcf wrote:
ARM's biggest disadvantages for entry in this market are lack of 64-bit and even worse, lack of a software base that is comparable to the huge software base that is x86-only at this time.
I am serious, I really would like to know which softwares that lack competitive alternatives on ARM.

Why do you see 64-bit as an issue for netbooks?


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 1:29 am
Posts: 175
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Del wrote:
rcf wrote:
ARM's biggest disadvantages for entry in this market are lack of 64-bit and even worse, lack of a software base that is comparable to the huge software base that is x86-only at this time.
I am serious, I really would like to know which softwares that lack competitive alternatives on ARM.

Why do you see 64-bit as an issue for netbooks?


Good questions.

The time will come when 4+GB of RAM is dense enough, low enough power, etc., for a smartphone/MID/netbook, but that's still a few years away, and certainly nobody actually needs that yet. I have 4GB in my laptop, but it serves as my primary machine (i.e., desktop replacement) and I put it to good use. But for a compact machine with a tiny keyboard, no one's ever going to do serious work on it; as such the need for serious resources just isn't there.

There's also my old rule of thumb, any system should be able to scan all of its memory in 1 second. That gives you a gauge of MHz per MB. No one's going to be putting 2-4GHz processors into netbooks or smartphones any time soon.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:43 pm 
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Quote:
Really? I am sorry but I am not quite up for the task of teaching you elementary statistics, so you'll have to take my word for it. Those numbers only tell you that XP-based netbooks sell better than linux-based netbooks. For all you know it might be 51/49. Try majority rule on wikipedia, and look for hints.


You much like making some riduculous assumptiosn about the relative distibution to somehow try to get to 49/51 with XP on 19 of the top 19 models on Amazon.

Try to pay attention to the title of the wiki cited article:

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/a ... again.html

and the last sentence.

Quote:
Maybe our definition of entrenched just differs? How about MS stating that it hurt their numbers significantly for the latest quarter, does that prove the entrenchment you think?


Probably. Linux is already entrenched on the desktop and in regular notebooks. It also have a small share, 1-2% seems plausible given the various sources of estimates. This doesn't mean it is going anywhere, or going to be elimiated, but being entrenched also doesn't mean it matters a lot for discussion of trends in these spaces.

If people are still buying Windows on netbooks than ARM isn't relevant in the netbook market. Right now is Linux's best oppurtunity in netbook space as Windows 7 should do a lot for Windows on netbooks with a much lighter disk footpint (and configurable) than Vista and lower memory requirements (although with many netbooks coming with 2GB of memory, this isn't much of a big deal).


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:01 pm 
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Posts: 123
Del wrote:
rcf wrote:
ARM's biggest disadvantages for entry in this market are lack of 64-bit and even worse, lack of a software base that is comparable to the huge software base that is x86-only at this time.
I am serious, I really would like to know which softwares that lack competitive alternatives on ARM.


I agree that Linux already has office suites, flash plugins, DVD burning apps, big commercial apps and other software that people routinely use, but it's hard to ignore that Microsoft owns 90% of the PC market for decades now. It's easy to conceive that many people and businesses still use old and ackward apps that you and I have never heard about, or that many people install apps in their Atom netbooks that one wouldn't expect to be used in a netbook. AutoCAD for example (believe it or not), or Photoshop, or any other windows app that people use a lot for their work and would like to have in their netbooks even it's not the perfect environment for it. To give an example regarding small businesses (with nettops in this case), a LOT of gas stations and other small shops around here, despite having XP or Vista installed in their PCs, use them to run old MS-DOS sales apps.

Compatibility is king, if you hope to beat it you have to offer improvements of an order of magnitude in some dimension with your incompatible product. ARM's improvements lie on a combination of power and price.

Quote:
Why do you see 64-bit as an issue for netbooks?


Because Atom can do it right now and because memory today is dirty cheap. I don't agree with the argument that netbooks don't need 4GB of RAM or more (not right now, of course), and it remembers me that 640kb of RAM will always be enough. Also, I've seen many people using those Atom nettops or DIY barebone Atom systems as servers, using Linux 64bit or even Windows Server 2008 x64 without problems (but don't ask me why they do it on systems castrated to allow 2GB max). And if people may want to install AutoCAD or Photoshop in their netbooks because they use it at work, the same may apply for 64bits, and all that stuff use a lot of memory. If things like Vista and other bloatware already take 1GB of RAM while idling, then 32bits won't be enough for that much longer.


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 1:38 pm
Posts: 668
Del wrote:
jack wrote:
I would say it's the opposite, x86 is taking more and more market from ARM and they are just trying to react. For example, few years ago ARM had 100% share in small, mobile devices (like Nokia N800/N810), now x86 based netbooks have mostly taken this segment.
N800 and N810 was Nokia's GNU/Linux experiment, I don't think they saw it as a laptop replacement, and it certainly did not amount to a separate market segment. It was a smartphone without the phone. I think you will understand those and their impact much better if you look at what has happened to Symbian and Trolltech.


N800 wasn't really a smartphone without the phone, since it was much bigger, etc.. However, my point was that at current prices N810 doesn't make any sense, since you can buy a netbook at lower price.

Quote:
Quote:
Currently, ARM has 100% share in smartphones, but also this will likely to change within next 5-10 years.
Yep, 100%, and where are the Atom-based offerings? Have you really thought through the power issue (read: battery time) for smartphones, or do you see Atom based offerings competing there?


First Atom-based offerings will come next year. Note: I said "5-10 years", that's plenty of time to improve current Atom.

Quote:
Quote:
Moving to Linux does not remove the need for x86 compatibility since there are still a lot of binary-only software for Linux.
Care to share your insight on exactly what software you have in your mind? Count flash out, it is already ported to ARM.


I can't count flash out, since the ARM version is not available for download. There is also Acrobat reader from Adobe, Opera, etc. Sure, maybe this software will be ported to ARM, but it remains to be seen whether the support will be as good as for x86. For example: will the new version be released at the same time or 6-12 months later?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:36 pm 
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Acrobat reader is already irrelevant on Linux, given the prevalence of Ghostscript, xpdf, and other derivative tools. Opera has such a tiny market share it's also mostly irrelevant. (But on the flip side, Opera for ARM already exists; I installed a copy on my G1 phone a couple months ago. I removed it again too, it didn't offer any benefit over the bundled browser.)

Flash is mostly irrelevant; GNU gnash and swfdec already handle most of the job.

The fact is, all of the reasons that make Linux usable on the x86 are directly applicable to ARM and any other platform you care to mention, because recompiling on such a standardized OS platform is trivially easy.

The same cannot be said for Windows, hell even compiling native Windows code for Windows X64 is a nightmare; the native APIs are designed so poorly that even changing the word size of one or two basic data types throws everything for a loop. (I was going to say "throws stability out the window" but it was never even there in 32 bit land.)

For the projects I use, porting to ARM is as simple as typing "./configure; make" and walking away. I've already ported OpenLDAP and its requisite libraries to my G1 phone - again it's a no-brainer because the code was written portably to begin with, and the the platform environment is already a portable standard.

The other thing to point out about binary-only Linux software (of which I've seen very little) is that you can very easily recompile the object code for any other Linux-supported architecture. When all of the system calls are the same, it's a simple matter of reading the binary in, mapping it back into gcc's internal representation, and then spitting it out again for the desired backend. And *that*'s the ultimate reason why x86 compatibility is now irrelevant.


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 Post subject: Re: ARM seems to be gathering momentum, is this the new wave
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:48 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:06 am
Posts: 259
Del wrote:
rcf wrote:
ARM's biggest disadvantages for entry in this market are lack of 64-bit and even worse, lack of a software base that is comparable to the huge software base that is x86-only at this time.
I am serious, I really would like to know which softwares that lack competitive alternatives on ARM.

Why do you see 64-bit as an issue for netbooks?


Being totally serious for once, it depends if you are running Windows or not. If you are not running an MS OS, 64-bitness is basically a wash, if it is there, fine, if not, no problem.

If you are running an MS OS, you NEED 64-bit because you NEED 2+G. MS bullshit propaganda aside, their OSes require 2x the memory and more CPU power to do the same tasks as Linux. If you take a vista notebook and install ubuntu, you will gain 15% battery life off the top, assuming correct drivers.

MS lost the game by refusing to take security seriously (no, they still don't), and bloat is the icing on the cake. While netbooks will 'catch up' to where MS OSes become usable some day, it is a fact that Linux will always require less horsepower. This means cheaper hardware, longer battery life, or both. The only way MS can compete is dirty tricks.

That said, 32-bit is plenty for a netbook for a long time to come if used in a sane way. More is nice, but not needed.

For the record, I am running a sub-note with 2G of memory, a 32G SSD, and Ubuntu 8.10. With a full install including all the programs I needed for work and play, I used up about 4G of disk space, and anecdotally speaking, I never come close to using the 2G of memory.

-Charlie


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