Keyrock Posted February 10, 2019 Share Posted February 10, 2019 (edited) The potential of ARM chips replacing x86 has long been theorized and speculated upon, but I believe we're on the verge of it happening now. Qualcomm's upcoming 8cx (The Verge link) is spearheading ARM's move into the laptop segment. Initially, it's going to be ultra thin, low power laptops, but eventually ARM will invade more powerful laptop sectors and even desktops. ARM is already making a lot of headway in the server market and that trend will likely only continue. The biggest hurdle to ARM getting into traditionally x86 dominated markets has long been native software support. If you look at benchmarks over the last few years of software running on x86 and ARM chips, the x86 often shows a massive performance advantage, but that is largely down to the ARM chip running an emulated version. When you compare a x86 chip and comparable ARM chip both running native versions *poof* the performance advantage largely (completely in some cases) disappears. Apple already has native ARM versions of most of its software, as they have begun their switch to ARM and now Microsoft is letting developers create native 64-bit ARM code for Windows apps as well as working on ARM versions of Microsoft Office. Adobe Photoshop and a host of other major productivity software makers are in the process of making native ARM versions of their programs or have already done so, and once the ball gets rolling others will follow, and quickly (they'll have no choice in the matter). So what's driving this move toward ARM? There are 2 major factors at play: power consumption and profit margins. It's no secret that ARM chips run at a much lower power envelope than x86, it's largely why ARM dominates the mobile market. Famously, when testing the first ARM chip made in the 80s for power draw, they forgot to hook up the chip to the power supply AND IT STILL RAN simply off the electricity from the signal connection. Intel has spent years trying their hardest to push x86 chips into lower power envelopes in a desperate attempt to push into the lucrative mobile market and have largely been unsuccessful. The problem is the architecture itself and the bloated AF instruction set that forces x86 chips into extremely high amounts of transistor switching to achieve greater performance, which in turn requires a lot of power, plus x86 just doesn't scale nearly as well into higher core counts as ARM does (AMD has taken steps to allow their own x86 chips to scale better, in that regard they are way ahead of Intel, though still far behind ARM manufacturers). The other, and likely more important, factor is that ARM chips are easier and cheaper to manufacture, largely because ARM is a simpler chip design than x86. This is why ARM chips regularly beat x86 to every node shrink. Every OEM loves components that are cheaper to manufacture because it allows them to either pass the savings onto the customer or (more likely) increase profits for themselves.This is why so many companies are pushing ARM adoption, it means greater profits for them. The days may be numbered for x86. Edited February 10, 2019 by Keyrock 2 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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