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Thread: The PC, not the server, will be the next ARM vs x86 battleground

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    The PC, not the server, will be the next ARM vs x86 battleground

    2017 will be the year that ARM makes a comeback in chromebooks (a direct result of Intel's from mobile retreat), Windows 10 appears on ARM, and Apple includes an ARM coprocessor in Macbooks. I find ARM chromebooks especially interesting as Chromebooks have now surpassed Macbooks in terms of marketshare. ARM had strong marketshare in chromebooks originally, but Intel responded and the x86 became dominant in that market. However when Intel stepped back from mobile, they also scaled back Android support, and better support for Android apps has resulted in leading chromebook vendors releasing ARM models again. ARM has also caught up in performance to x86 in low end applications, so the ARM performance penalty when buying a chromebook has nearly disappeared. In first exiting mobile and now deemphasizing PCs, Intel is staging a classic upmarket retreat outlined by Christensen, and the battleground has moved to the next performance tier (PCs). It'll be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next several years.

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    Blogger Daniel Payne's Avatar
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    Apple has really fallen behind the competition in laptops, just look at the last year that they even offered a 17" MacBook Pro, it was 2011.

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    Daniel Payne, EDA Consultant

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    Intel's Christiansen moment seems to have missed again. The Samsung Chromebook Plus is the first of the new generation of Chromebooks with Android app support, running ARM (Rockchip OP1, 28nm, A72) processors. I have been watching with interest, but the early indication is, the Android apps don't work right, and Chrome by itself is too limited. This will be the second attempt for ARM to breach Intel's primary market, (Surface RT was the first), and looks like the second failure.
    When the Snapdragon 835-based Windows 10 systems arrive, the third attempt could be the charm. ARM processors pay a performance penalty to run x86 applications (they must emulate it in a virtual machine). Time will tell if despite this they are "good enough" and cheap enough.

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