SAN JOSE, Calif. – Technologies never die. Like sine waves, they just rise and fall and rise again.
So it is and will be with the Intel x86 microprocessor architecture. What was once a wimpy core among a forest of superscalar and Reduced Instruction Set Computing Architectures, the x86 came to dominate.
The x86 is now poised awkwardly at a peak after one of the greatest rocket rides in high tech history, entering a phase that will someday be described as a decline. It will decline, but it won’t crash and burn. It will live to a ripe old age and maybe someday experience a re-birth.
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That’s certainly what Rory Read believes. The Advanced Micro Devices CEO hopes to go on creating custom x86 processor cores for a very long time.
Along with Lisa Su, Mark Papermaster and others, Read also has been planning for some time how AMD will also make ARM-based processors He telegraphed those plans from his first analyst event when he talked about the importance of ambidextrous SoC architectures.
I asked him if that meant AMD would make ARM-based chips. He evaded the question and said only, “it’s a slow reveal.”
October 29, 2012, marked another point in that slow reveal. In a small conference room in a hotel at the foot of San Francisco’s Bank of America building, Read announced AMD will ship ARM-based server CPUs starting in 2014. They target the rapidly expanding market of mega data centers, the home of the Web.
It was an historic moment I described with tongue in check on Twitter as “The Death of Wintel, Part 2.” Part 1 came a week earlier when Microsoft announced Windows 8, the first version of the mainstream PC operating system to support ARM as well as x86.
Well done Rick - thank you.
An interesting angle, including for Intel, will soon be - a standalone processor versus SoC...
With all the accompanying implications - including packaging, multiple die (SiP) packaging, etc., etc.
Once all of the competing CPUs reach a certain point of diminishing returns, the differences that had been so important in years past lose relevance. At that point, things like support of the installed base of software become more important.
Still, the typical x86 powered machine is vastly overpowered for the needs of many users, hence the success of tablets. There will always be extreme users, such as gamers, analysts and engineers that will need that additional power. It remains to be seen if ARM vendors will be able make any inroads into that set.
I'm not a uP designer, but it seems to me that all we are seeing here is more of the same. Did not the x86 essentially become a risc processor back in the original Pentium days, with the complex functions added peripherally?
The risc processors (ARM) started to focus more on saving power rather than increasing performance.
Can't x86 morph again?
An ATOM 2.0 with x86 instruction set? That's basically where I'm coming from.
Also, Duane, I don't think the x86 is vastly overpowered compared with what the average user needs. The reason being, it is the up-to-date productivity apps such as Office or Adobe Acrobat, never mind the games, that demand the power. It's not that the user is writing CPU-intensive programs. At least, not in most cases.
Rick, you continue to amaze me with your dumbness and stupidity and also, your crappy headlines. You really think $50B revenue generating architecture is dead! I guess you got a new doze of ARM Juice from the ARMTimes sponsored conference. You have no clue and cant believe UBM has bozos like you writing articles. You bring shame to EE that he has to read your article
It is quite right that technology never dies, and the x86 is that much penetrated in the computing environment it will go on getting used on the consumer PCs, Yes it may happen that Intel will have to reduce the prices of their processor compared to at what price they are selling present days.
The ARM is not necessary power efficient then x86. I think people just over believed in arm, and kind of thinking, anything from arm must be low power processor.
The newest Atom "medfield" is actually comparable with newest ARM "krait" in power efficiency (if not better than ARM). The almost identical design motorola Raza i and m, are compatible at real life usage, yet the power consumption of atom is much lower than the krait. Consider this, that the atom is 5 years old architecture on a 32 nm silicon node, the krait is like 1 year old on a 28 nm silicon. I really don't know why most people still has so many confident in arm about "low power".
The ARM a15 from Samsung, is considerable faster than the medfield, but it's a competition between 5+ w soc and 1+ w soc.I am wander why both apple and qualcomm use their own arm design, if the a15 is really as good as arm declared. Reminder me just the declaration of ARM last year that "the x86 is impossible for mobilephone", "the x86 is much more power hungry than arm". which lead me to further concern their reputation.
I get what u mean. But, in terms of Medfield's single core with hyperthreading, how much performance can they squeeze out from a single core??
We have the Moore's law for a reason, in order to overcome the power wall, more cores have to be implemented. All i can say is Intel is just "adopt and modifying" design from their desktop counterparts which to me is a lot of work that needs to be done.
People have very short memories.
From early 1990's
"Death of x86 due to MIPS...."
From mid 1990's
"Death of x86 due to PowerPC...."
From late 1990's
"Death of x86 due to DEC Alpha...."
"Death of x86 due to Itanium...."
"Death of x86 due to ARM..."
And the pattern is...
I totally agree. And that was my point as well.
"The pattern is," as you so aptly put it, that x86 soon beats the newcomers at their game.
Hasn't happened yet in the mobile field, but there's no reason to leap up and claim they're finished.
Some would say its an ecosystem game, not an architecture play.
By the time Intel has a fully fleshed out line of mobile SoCs running all the cool mobile software, ARM will have the same in servers.
Duopoly dead ahead.
Rick, Get your head out of the gutter...i mean ARM world. Razr I beats Razr M (Qualcomm) on battery life by 4 hours. Check out the web to get 3rd party reviews. This is just the beginning from Intel. Keep on dreaming about ARM. Its just a matter of days
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