Considering the only requirements we know from the article was "to offer a remote maintenance capability with high security." it's rather far fetched to claim a "poor technical decision" as you maintain. There are lots of reasons, besides the level of security provided, which would come into play in the decision by Daikin; think ease of use, maintainability, support, etc.
Using your reference design for a tablet with military grade security is not revalent as this is not a tablet, not needing to meet military anything, and only "high security."
And, no, I'm not associated with Intel, Freescale, ARM, or anyone else; I'm a retired engineer with well over thirty years experience designing embedded systems.
The 80376 was replaced by the 80386EX, which still kept the static core capable uf running at low clock speeds all the way down to halt to save power. But it also kept the 26-bit addressing, so wouldn't be appropriate for re-implementing at a smaller process size without a major update. But I do think it is probably a shrunken older core. I chose the P54C because it has already been worked on for the Single-chip Cloud Computer project and Larrabee.
It seems to me that it would make sense to strip off legacy support in a product like this. Why carry along MS-DOS compatability and segmented memory models when they are competing with ARMs that have a much cleaner architecture? The x86 has been overdue for cleaning out the attic for quite a while. Does anyone know if that is what they are doing here?
Happy to hear that this tiny chip could give 486, Pentium kind of performance, that would be great!! Will this be somewhere close to the SoC launched by AMD recently: G-series SoC? Probably having lower performance and features than that?
The part that scares me is "...suggesting it is more of a rushed trial balloon than a nailed-down product and strategy."
I would dare not think about using it if there are no clear strategy and a clear road-map. Any tentative timeline announced for its release?
I will be very much interested to hear this. Some of the Cortex M devices are reaching this level of performance. If Intel comes down this far, and QFN/QFP packages are available, I could see this being a possible device that a hobbiest could use. I will be very interested to see more about this device.