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Upgrades Portables Hardware

ARM Launches Cortex-A5 Processor, To Take On Atom 176

Posted by timothy
from the true-diversity dept.
bigwophh writes "ARM launched its new Cortex-A5 processor (codenamed Sparrow) this week, and while it's not targeted at the top end of the mobile market, it is a significant launch nonetheless. The Cortex-A5, which will likely battle future iterations of Intel's Atom for market share, is an important step forward for ARM for several reasons. First, it's significantly more efficient to build than the company's older ARM1176JZ(F)-S, while simultaneously outperforming the ARM926EJ-S. The Cortex-A5, however, is more than just a faster ARM processor. Architecturally, it's identical to the more advanced Cortex-A9, and it supports the same features as that part as well. This flexibility is designed to give product developers and manufacturers access to a fully backwards-compatible processor with better thermal and performance characteristics than the previous generation."
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ARM Launches Cortex-A5 Processor, To Take On Atom

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  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @01:37AM (#29862491)

    Its the Wifi/WWAN chips, and LCD screen which suck up the power, not the CPU. ARM is cool and all (pun intended) but if you make an ARM based Dell Mini 9, you're not going to end up with uber battery life, when you're on Wifi and running the screen bright.

  • Re:MS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @02:05AM (#29862617)

    Microsoft can really change things around if they decided to port Win7 to ARM, instead of offering only Windows CE.

    But considering monopolies, I wouldn't expect that any time soon.

    People generally use Windows on PCs because they have x86 Windows software they need to run.

    How many people have a stack of ARM software to run on ARM Windows? If you're going to need new software anyway, why would anyone in their right mind pick Windows to run it on?

  • Re:MS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quantumphaze (1245466) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @02:28AM (#29862669)

    It would be best for Microsoft if ARM on the laptop/desktop was a complete flop. Sure, if what others say is true about the portability of Windows internals, Microsoft could release a version of Windows 7 for ARM. But really, what would be the point?

    The biggest strength of Windows is running Win32 apps, and they are all compiled for Win/x86. Microsoft would have to provide development tools that encourage developers to make ARM binaries along side x86 binaries to even have a chance at making it happen.
    Look at the average computer user's software catalogue, you will find many apps (and games) that were bought long ago and would cost money to upgrade to a potential ARM port if the company that made them are sill even in business. Those programs are never going to be ported to Win/ARM. Then there are all the drivers for last years peripheral hardware (assuming that the laptop's hardware is supported) that won't work.

    I don't believe they can do what Apple did either. Apple was able to move to x86 from PPC because the control the hardware and moved their whole product line to it (killing PPC market). Any developers that wanted to stay in business had to port to x86. MS would be introducing a side product that would have a very small fraction of the bigger x86 customer base.

    In the end all that Win/ARM has left is the few open source apps that choose to build an installer for it and the familiarity of the Windows desktop environment.

    It would be in their interest to do everything in their power to make sure this doesn't ever get off the ground. We will have to wait and see what their next move will be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 25, 2009 @02:57AM (#29862727)

    This is talking about smart phones, where the CPU is a significant chunk of the power consumed. And in those cases, the wireless features are relatively efficient (though not great, but they're not normally active 100% of the time), and the backlight and CPU make up the bulk of the power consumed. The more efficient the processor, the happier your battery will be.

  • Re:MS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bertok (226922) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @04:43AM (#29863047)

    Microsoft can really change things around if they decided to port Win7 to ARM, instead of offering only Windows CE.

    But considering monopolies, I wouldn't expect that any time soon.

    People generally use Windows on PCs because they have x86 Windows software they need to run.

    How many people have a stack of ARM software to run on ARM Windows? If you're going to need new software anyway, why would anyone in their right mind pick Windows to run it on?

    Because 6 months before you can even buy "Windows 8 - ARM Edition", Microsoft will have released a Visual Studio patch that enables "ARM" as a target alongside the existing x86/x64/Itanium platforms. Both .NET and Java will have runtimes ported as well. Converting 32-bit code from one CPU to another is much easier than going from 32-bit to 64-bit, so it wouldn't take very long for vendors to update their software for it. Also, Microsoft strongarms ISVs into compatibility. For example, it's often hard (or harder) to get "Windows Logo" certifications for software unless it works on various platforms.

    By the time an ARM-compatible Windows is released, there would be thousands of titles compatible with it.

  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @07:23AM (#29863481)

    The main reason why the CPU does not suck power is because most if not all mobile phones use ARM CPU cores. Imagine a mobile phone with an ATOM, shudder...
    You would gain some speed but your mobile phone would need fans :-(

  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @08:55AM (#29863853)

    They're not saying "it's identical", they're saying "architecturally, it's identical", which is to say that any differences are non-architectural (i.e. performance, power consumption, etc).

    Perhaps a car analogy would help...

    If I say that color-wise my Ford Pinto is identical to my Ferrari, all I'm saying is identical is the color!

  • x86 abi (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [selppet]> on Sunday October 25, 2009 @09:07AM (#29863933) Homepage Journal

    You can bet that an ARM version of Windows would be accompanied by an ARM version of Office

    But how easily would Microsoft Office (for Windows 8 ARM Edition) run third-party extensions designed for Microsoft Office (for Windows x86)?

    Most software, unless it uses inline assembly or SSE / MMX intrinsics, is a straight recompile.

    A lot of programs' file formats depend on details of the x86 ABI because the programs pretty much just fwrite() a struct to disc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 25, 2009 @12:16PM (#29865061)

    and the only advantage of Netbook over a real mini communication device which has OS designed to run on it is? Ability to run Windows unmodified.

    I speak about devices like Nokia E90, N97, N900.

    ARM really gets confused very easily it seems. They should ask Asus, HP, Acer and several others. Why does a customer buy a low powered laptop like device for?

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @12:20PM (#29865085) Homepage

    Speaking (typing) from a Quad G5, PPC and watched the happenings in OS X community/developer scene since Intel transition announced. If Intel one day manages to make Atom (x86) run in same low power as ARM licensed CPUs, ARM is doomed.

    Why? Compare the compile process of an open source, multimedia application on PPC and Intel. See the "bonus" stuff Intel chips get? Every kind of optimization, way more cheaper is available on Intel x86/SSE. Trust me, I am more amazed to Intel's developer/development/application support every single day. I don't even blame Apple anymore, I blame IBM/Motorola etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 25, 2009 @12:37PM (#29865203)

    It's dog slow even with the code being executed natively for bloated modern applications.

    It's funny you say that. My Acer Aspire One running Ubuntu 9.10 is blazing fast. Every program I use just starts right up with very little latency. Using them, they are all very responsive. I have a few java programs that also run very well. Open Office runs great, Frostwire runs great, running the java printer program that you have to use to print postage through Paypal runs perfectly fine also. My other computer is a 2.8 GHz C2D running Debian so I have a good performance reference. The netbook hooked up to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse for most tasks is not much different than my desktop. Wait a minute, I think I just realized your problem

    and Win7

    Damn. My bad. Yeah, an Atom isn't nearly enough for that. *snicker*

  • Re:MS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cheesybagel (670288) on Sunday October 25, 2009 @02:12PM (#29865921)
    Now that is silly. 8086 had like 29 thousand transistors. 80386 had some 275 thousand transistors. The StrongARM SA-110 processor had 2.5 million transistors, more transistors than a 80486, and that was years ago. x86 decoding is hardly the issue people think it is. Not at todays transistor budgets. Intel has surprised a lot of people with Atom and they should be able to shrink it further.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.

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