Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Mar 2009 17:23 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems To further prove that analysts' projections are just informed guesses, two major analyst firms just presented a completely different outlook on the netbook market and where it is going. Even though both project major growth, one of them sees a very bright future for non-Intel netbooks, while the other sticks with Atom.
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Agreed
by darknexus on Wed 11th Mar 2009 17:42 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

I agree there's just no way to predict what will happen. People may want the familiarity of Windows, but that doesn't seem to bother anyone with a PDA or an iPhone for example, so I don't think that argument holds.

Reply Score: 13

hmmm
by poundsmack on Wed 11th Mar 2009 18:04 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

ARM netbooks will be fine with linux for nitch things. when i say nitch i mean that people enever see a real Gnome/KDE (etc...) desktop, but instead see a custome interface, a lot like HP did.

once they see it as a desktop thing (linux) they are going to get confused and the units will get returned. pople are used to windows and people fear change.

you should check out the statistics of how many linux netbooks got returned because people wanted windows or got confused and curled up in a corner rocking back and fourth back and fourth. people want farmiliarity, the masses just arn't ready, sad but true... I with the ARM netbooks luck though, i know I will be getting one peronsally but I represent a very small nitch of people.

Reply Score: 1

RE: hmmm
by sunny007 on Wed 11th Mar 2009 22:10 UTC in reply to "hmmm"
sunny007 Member since:
2006-10-25

I've been finding that a KDE desktop can pass the "mum" test :-) She was fed up with how slow windows xp had got on her laptop which is a few years old now. So I looked at everything that she did on the laptop and realised it could be all done on Linux.

She's now been using linux (OpenSuSE) on the laptop for about 6 months, and it's been very successful. Not only is the laptop responsive, she can do all the things she used to do. It's the perfect fit really.

So it strikes me that netbooks will be similar to this usecase. I suppect now that their is no need for a super fast laptop, she would be quite happy with a arm powered netbook for both work and home use.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: hmmm
by ElCabri2 on Wed 11th Mar 2009 22:20 UTC in reply to "RE: hmmm"
ElCabri2 Member since:
2009-03-11

Yeah. Just wait till you got to deal with the "wife" test, see how that works for you.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: hmmm
by bnolsen on Thu 12th Mar 2009 03:54 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: hmmm"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

Works great. I put archlinux on her laptop which had XP on it. She was very happy that the machine was much faster and was able to use gnumeric and abiword just fine.
The "not windows" part will affect some people and not others. I believe price point will end up being the biggest player here which will be affected by the economy.
The bad economy and high unemployment means companies will be looking to cut costs. Overhead is the first to get cut, and that's IT.
Who's more likely too keep their job? Someone who stubbornly wants to run only windows or someone who's open to trying something new that's a little bit different (but cost wise far cheaper).

Reply Score: 3

RE: hmmm
by kaiwai on Wed 11th Mar 2009 22:16 UTC in reply to "hmmm"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

ARM netbooks will be fine with linux for nitch things. when i say nitch i mean that people enever see a real Gnome/KDE (etc...) desktop, but instead see a custome interface, a lot like HP did.

once they see it as a desktop thing (linux) they are going to get confused and the units will get returned. pople are used to windows and people fear change.

you should check out the statistics of how many linux netbooks got returned because people wanted windows or got confused and curled up in a corner rocking back and fourth back and fourth. people want farmiliarity, the masses just arn't ready, sad but true... I with the ARM netbooks luck though, i know I will be getting one peronsally but I represent a very small nitch of people.


1) It is niche not nitch. There is no such word as nitch. Sorry, it is a pet peeve of mine where people are making up words on the fly that make little or no sense at all.

2) Regarding whether it will/won't do what end users require; as said in a previous article, the OEM's are doing a crap job at integrating Linux on their netbooks. When I installed ArchLinux on my netbook - the results (after a few minutes of tweaking) were far superior to what OEM's have apparently done with their Linux distribution.

Linux can make it if the OEM's actually spent the amount of time and money they would normally do trying to pull in adware and spyware producers to put their garbage on the machines they ship. If they allocated just a small fraction - there should be no need for end users to ever complain that it 'lacks Windows' given that netbooks are a general purpose desktop replacement device.

3) I was fiddling around with XFCE last night on ArchLinux - and if an OEM spent a few thousand dollars customising it by adding a neat theme, cool background, maybe rename some of the obscure application names to generic/commonly used names - it would be a great desktop for netbooks.

I'm always surprised, however, for the ability for a single OEM to take something that gives them so much freedom to differentiate their product from others and basically waste that opportunity by just dumping some obscure linux distribution on it and say, "well, we are shipping Linux netbooks" as if dumping a disk image on a computer amounts to supporting linux.

Reply Score: 5

RE: hmmm
by major86 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 09:05 UTC in reply to "hmmm"
major86 Member since:
2008-04-21

I don't think its masses, but Linux instead. Yes it's good for servers, workstations, some "customized desktop" system, but not for average folk. IPhone is an example of what some "good" (familiar/easy) software can achieve. Palm Pre will be in the same category. People don’t need performance; they need to do the job done. Watching movies/surfing/IM with ease that's what Linux lacks. All this nice HP-like skins is so transparent, user can simply see all the complexity beneath it. Things like this should be avoided.
/major86

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: hmmm
by lemur2 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 10:06 UTC in reply to "RE: hmmm"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Watching movies/surfing/IM with ease that's what Linux lacks.


Why would you say that?

Watching movies:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mplayer
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totem_(media_player)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_media_players

Plenty of green under the "Linux" columns:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_players_(software)#Operating_system_support

Surfing:
Firefox/Konqueror/Opera/Galeon ...

too many to list, really:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_web_browsers_for_Unix/Linux

Spoilt for choice here. A far wider and better selection than what is available for Windows. Linux beats Windows hands down no contest in this category.

IM:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_instant_messaging_client...

No shortage of support in the Linux column there, either. What can I say? Kopete and Pidgin are probably the best ones in terms of multi-protocol support.

What exactly was your point? Where exactly is this lack of which you speak?

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: hmmm
by major86 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 10:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: hmmm"
major86 Member since:
2008-04-21

I wasn't talking about lack of programs but the lack of simplicity and ease of use which windows/OSX give. I enjoyed using Arch Linux for some time, but it's a totally different experience compared to windows. Computers were created to make life easier not otherwise.
Maybe Linux is ok for some tech person who likes to tinker a little, but for someone who doesn’t really know how to close a program (a lot of PC users in their 30/40) a simple solution is more preferable.
Linux is the only way ARM can go, so I think it can be a problem ;)

P.S. Linux trying to be everything at the same time, and in reality its impossible to achieve. If we had one distro (smth like android) for desktop use with defined look/feel it’d be easier on the consumer. We’d steel had our playground for some betas/testing, but there would be a stable/consistent system to go back to. Why do you think so many open source developers like OSX?
/major86

Edited 2009-03-12 10:45 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: hmmm
by Lennie on Fri 13th Mar 2009 00:02 UTC in reply to "hmmm"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

More recent numbers of Dell seem to suggest otherwise

Reply Score: 1

No one can predict...
by spinnekopje on Wed 11th Mar 2009 18:10 UTC
spinnekopje
Member since:
2008-11-29

I think it just depends how effective the work behind the scenes is done. I don't think anybody can know how what the result will be for the moment.

Reply Score: 1

apple & arm = win
by puenktchen on Wed 11th Mar 2009 18:16 UTC
puenktchen
Member since:
2007-07-27

just in:

appleinsider.com/articles/09/03/11/apple_orders_10_inch_touchscreens_f or_mystery_product.html

well, what might that be?

sadly, apple will probably sell it for 750 money units instead of the 250 which arm predicted for arm-based netbooks.

Reply Score: 3

Wine
by erikharmon on Wed 11th Mar 2009 18:28 UTC
erikharmon
Member since:
2007-06-20

At least with an Atom CPU, if I can't find the Linux app I want I can use the Windows equivalent in WINE. ARM netbooks are cool, I will be buying one no matter what, but non-x86 is a software ghetto. It took years to get Adobe Flash on Linux-x86, a few more to get it in 64-bit, and the PowerPC version never came at all. Maybe these things will see a lot of support on ARM, but I don't want to have to rely on that.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Wine
by Redeeman on Wed 11th Mar 2009 18:48 UTC in reply to "Wine"
Redeeman Member since:
2006-03-23

LOL, so because adobe doesnt release their crappy insanely ugly plugin for some architecture, its a software ghetto?

Reply Score: 10

RE[2]: Wine
by Ian Christie on Wed 11th Mar 2009 20:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Wine"
Ian Christie Member since:
2005-07-06

I hate to say it, but, the name "NetBook" implies the ability to do everything someone wants to on the "Internet" and that includes the annoying Flash plug-in.

However, I would love to see one of the ARM netbooks take off.

Edited 2009-03-11 20:29 UTC

Reply Score: 8

RE[3]: Wine
by WereCatf on Wed 11th Mar 2009 20:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Wine"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I hate to say it, but, the name "NetBook" implies the ability to do everything someone wants to on the "Internet" and that includes the annoying Flash plug-in.

Gnash apparently works quite well nowadays, and if those netbooks catch on then we can expect to see a rise in the number of developers for that project, too. Why? Well, there's always some coder-god who buys such gadgets and decides he wants to help with the software.. ;)

For all the other plugins..well, I guess most people just expect video to work and that is already handled just fine. Atleast on my GNOME desktop I have the Totem plugin installed and it has so far played everything I've thrown at it. FFMPEG too just got a neat update with support for even more codecs.

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: Wine
by sakeniwefu on Thu 12th Mar 2009 08:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Wine"
sakeniwefu Member since:
2008-02-26


Gnash apparently works quite well nowadays, and if those netbooks catch on then we can expect to see a rise in the number of developers for that project, too.


And this, ladies and gentlemen, is yet another user that does *NOT* use Gnash.

The free flash replacement that works quite decently is swfdec, which gets little attention support and developers because of people that haven't ever used anything but the official plugin saying that Gnash is so advanced.

It isn't. Now, after many years is barely able of stealing youtube videos and presenting you with a non-functional imitation of youtube player. youtube-dl + xine is still years ahead of gnash.

Please, replace gnash by swfdec in any uninformed comment that you post from now on.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Wine
by sbergman27 on Wed 11th Mar 2009 21:27 UTC in reply to "Wine"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Gnash and swfdec work well these days. Especially now that Adobe has opened up some. Flash 7 support from Adobe already exists for ARM. And Adobe is working on Flash 10 support for release later this year for those who want the proprietary plugin. They seem to be taking this seriously.

http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/pressroom/pressreleases/200811/1117...

Reply Score: 8

RE: Wine
by sunny007 on Wed 11th Mar 2009 22:12 UTC in reply to "Wine"
sunny007 Member since:
2006-10-25

As you pointed out, flash is available for multiple platforms already, I suspect that the hardest problem is porting it to a second platform. I think the 3rd, 4th etc are a lot easier. So hopefully the hard work has already been done in this area.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Wine
by Morty on Wed 11th Mar 2009 22:14 UTC in reply to "Wine"
Morty Member since:
2005-07-06

It took years to get Adobe Flash on Linux-x86, a few more to get it in 64-bit, and the PowerPC version never came at all. Maybe these things will see a lot of support on ARM, but I don't want to have to rely on that.


Rather irrelevant, since you already have Adobe Flash on ARM running Linux. Check out the Nokia N810.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Wine
by erikharmon on Fri 13th Mar 2009 03:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Wine"
erikharmon Member since:
2007-06-20

Yeah, those are OEM installations. I have seen a dozen ARM-based phones that have an OEM Flash install. There's no general-purpose ARM/Linux version, and it's not clear if there's going to be.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Wine
by unclefester on Thu 12th Mar 2009 09:15 UTC in reply to "Wine"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

The OSS flash alternatives such as gnash work well in most situations.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Wine
by bert64 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 13:29 UTC in reply to "Wine"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Non x86 linux is a closed source software ghetto, but virtually everything that's open source has already been recompiled...
Closed source software is the limiting factor, not the hardware. I used to run Linux on an Alphastation and the only thing i didn't have was flash, everything else worked very well...

Flash is already available for linux/arm btw, it runs on the nokia n800/n810 tablets, and the open source implementation of flash is coming along nicely.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Wine
by Lennie on Fri 13th Mar 2009 00:04 UTC in reply to "Wine"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

The N800 and N810 of Nokia ar ARM-based devices with Flash.

Reply Score: 2

I am wanting
by d0od on Wed 11th Mar 2009 18:38 UTC
d0od
Member since:
2009-02-25

I am actually waiting for the ARM netbooks to hit - but then i'm a nerd. I rushed into buying the original EEE 701 - even paying some silly price to have ti shipped from America to the UK... i regret that partly because although the machine is impressive the screen size is just too small. Months later 8.9"'s came out etc... Doh!

I mainly want an ARM netbook because i'm an Ubuntu nerd and i love the idea of the Ubuntu/ARM pairing. I hope Ubuntu's speed will be superly optimized for ARM>

Reply Score: 2

RE: I am wanting
by UltraZelda64 on Wed 11th Mar 2009 20:42 UTC in reply to "I am wanting"
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

I hope to see a large variety of distros release an ARM version, not just Ubuntu. It's a known fact that Ubuntu is jumping on the ARM bandwagon, and that Debian has supported it for who knows how long. I'd like to see Slackware and its derivatives support it, as well as those many, many Debian-based distros that focus exclusively on x86 and/or x86_64.

Reply Score: 5

Shades of Transmeta
by StephenBeDoper on Wed 11th Mar 2009 18:57 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

As much as I would like to see some serious competition for Intel (really a shame to see AMD falling behind), we're probably just going to see a repeat of what happened to Transmeta and the Crusoe* chip. There was initially a large amount of excitement about the low power consumption of the Crusoe chip, which prompted Intel to scramble to reduce the power consumption of their mobile CPUs.

Intel's financial resources mean that, if they start feeling the heat from competitors, they have lots of money to sink into catching-up. The end result may still be inferior to what their competitors are pushing, but they can probably still narrow the gap to the point where the appeal of their competitor's offerings begins to fade.

*Incidentally, I'm a bit surprised that no one has tried to license / resurrect the Crusoe for use in netbooks. It seems that they would be (or have been) a perfect fit - x86 compatibility combined with low power consumption / heat generation.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Shades of Transmeta
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 11th Mar 2009 23:04 UTC in reply to "Shades of Transmeta"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Good thought on transmeta, I believe they did make it into some obscure small form factor laptops. But they committed the cardinal sin of over promising and under delivering. The performance wasn't on a per clock cycle parity with intel, amd, or even via.


At least ARM chip manufacturers have other markets to support them, and their foray into netbooks.

Reply Score: 1

Actually, why just "in netbooks"?
by Zbigniew on Wed 11th Mar 2009 19:16 UTC
Zbigniew
Member since:
2008-08-28

I would like to buy a normal ATX-mobo with ARM. Why not? Silent, no need for fan neither for any special, expensive cooling system... and quite enough for Linux and/or any of xBSD.

(yes, I know: "Beagleboard" - but I want just normal, cheap ATX-board with ARM)

Or perhaps earlier the Chinese will release motherboard dedicated to their MIPS-compatible Loongson?

Reply Score: 3

Unless they make architecture changes
by deathshadow on Wed 11th Mar 2009 22:26 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

I just don't see it happening. The only reason to use ARM in the first place was that it was RISC - let the code do the grunt work and make all the instructions single cycle - Now that we've got the ability to have CISC chips in small low power form factors that can manage one or more instructions per clock cycle, RISC is a technological dead end... especially since I've yet to even HEAR of a ARM chip that breaks the ghz barrier. Sure, back when it took a CISC chip 44 clock cycles to do an integer multiply, RISC was damned attractive since you could do it in seven single clock instructions... Now that CISC can do that in one clock, that leaves CISC's seven instructions inherently slower reducing processing power delivered per watt even WITH the increase in wattage needed for the larger chip's die... but then, ARM chips are still what, 90nm process at best? Atom is half that.

On speed the 1.6ghz Atom blows the fastest ARM chip out of the water - hell, the 1.6 Atom 945GCLF desktop board is as fast as an equivalent G5 iMac according to geekbench!!! There is a WORLD of difference between what ANYTHING is on the plate in the ARM world and what the Atom delivers... Hell, I'd stack a crappy little five year old 1ghz VIA Eden against the fastest ARM based chip in production.

Conversely, when processing needs are at a minimum on some crappy little device with a 320x240 or less screen capabilities are so reduced and battery life so much more important the ARM is an obvious choice...

I think that hits on what is making the netbooks so successful - and what the nimrods promoting linux on it and the folks who think ARM is a solution are completely missing:

With a 1.6ghz Atom chip you can have the equivalent of what was considered an entry level desktop five years ago and more powerful than many machines people are STILL using in their workplace or home. You can run REAL desktop applications, the exact same software you run on your desktop because it's a REAL computer, not some half-assed tinkertoy PDA.

ARM... Delivers a hell of a lot less than that. Unfamiliar software, unfamiliar OS, hardware death because you can't just plug any old device in and expect it to work without hours, days or even weeks of dicking around on the command line...

Unless their aim is to get the price point at least a hundred bucks below an equivalent atom (I'd likely aim for a ballpark price-point of $150 street for an 8.9" with 8 gigs of flash) I'm not seeing a whole lot of future for it - and even at such a low price point I can see it being relegated to that same forgotten spot in the back of a sock drawer as the Geode based thin clients, the linux powered "New Internet Computer", the 3Com Audrey, PocketMail, the Commodore plus4 or the Atari Portfolio.

Edited 2009-03-11 22:42 UTC

Reply Score: 2

bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

Cortex A8 is now available at 45nm (not sure about speeds on this though)
Freescales cortex a8 runs at 1GHz.
Both are sub watt SOC's. Atom all by itself uses almost an order of magnitude more power requiring active cooling.

The problem with the x86 instruction set is that a very substantial portion of the die is required just for decoding the x86 instructions into internal instructions. This wasted die space sucks a high amount of power and increases the cost of manufacture. It means going multicore x86 has a far greater impact on power & cost than doing the same with a more modern instruction set (if ARM is a "modern" instruction set).

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Cortex A8 is now available at 45nm (not sure about speeds on this though) Freescales cortex a8 runs at 1GHz. Both are sub watt SOC's.


Since the instruction set decoding for a more orthogonal ISA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthogonal#Computer_science

carries far less overhead per core than x86 does,

The problem with the x86 instruction set is that a very substantial portion of the die is required just for decoding the x86 instructions into internal instructions. This wasted die space sucks a high amount of power and increases the cost of manufacture. It means going multicore x86 has a far greater impact on power & cost


and given that x86 is all tied up in expensive patent cross-licensing deals whereas something like SPARC (which is RISC) is now open ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparc#Open_source_implementations
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenSPARC
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCores

... then what do poeple think are the chances of seeing a relatively cheap chip with a large number of cores (say 16, 32 or even 64), all running at 1GHz or so, and requiring just a few watts to run?

Hmmmmm ...

I see where GCC has now acquired technology for automatic parallelization support:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=NzEzNA

A mainframe-scope computer on your desktop (or even in your laptop) for $500 bucks, anyone?

Edited 2009-03-12 05:01 UTC

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

A mainframe-scope (multi-core) computer on your desktop (or even in your laptop) for $500 bucks, anyone?


OK, a bit of digging shows that current designs indicate that something like this takes 250W.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_processor

So we have to get that down by over an order of magnitude (and probably cut back the clock speed a fair whack) before we would see it in your laptop.

AFAIK, the pratical limit for x86 is quad core.

Edited 2009-03-12 05:32 UTC

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"A mainframe-scope (multi-core) computer on your desktop (or even in your laptop) for $500 bucks, anyone?
OK, a bit of digging shows that current designs indicate that something like this takes 250W. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_processor So we have to get that down by over an order of magnitude (and probably cut back the clock speed a fair whack) before we would see it in your laptop. AFAIK, the pratical limit for x86 is quad core. "

OK, that is over the top, obviously, for netbooks.

Here is something a little more on-topic for this thread:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_Cortex-A9_MPCore

"can be clocked at speeds over 1GHz and consumes less than 250mW per core"


Quad core CPU, 1GHz each core, therefore 1W. That is more like netbook-class power consumption, isn't it?

OK, so there is the future of ARM on netbook class machines.

Reply Score: 3

dvzt Member since:
2008-10-23

RISC is a technological dead end.


What a laugh! In fact it's CISC that is dead end. Even x86 CPUs are RISC now and use hardware translation of x86 instruction set to the chips native one. Only reason for success of x86 is its backwards compatibility...and Windows. Even Intel tried to escape x86 with Itanium.

Reply Score: 3

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"RISC is a technological dead end.


What a laugh! In fact it's CISC that is dead end. Even x86 CPUs are RISC now and use hardware translation of x86 instruction set to the chips native one.
"

A RISC chip is like the x86 core without all the extra hardware translation of x86 instruction set overhead.

If one gets rid of the on-chip x86 instruction set translation hardware, one can use the silicon real estate saved for more cores.

This is why in current fabrication x86 chips are still dual core, but ARM chips are quad core and yet still use half the power.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

especially since I've yet to even HEAR of a ARM chip that breaks the ghz barrier. Sure, back when it took a CISC chip 44 clock cycles to do an integer multiply, RISC was damned attractive since you could do it in seven single clock instructions... Now that CISC can do that in one clock, that leaves CISC's seven instructions inherently slower reducing processing power delivered per watt even WITH the increase in wattage needed for the larger chip's die... but then, ARM chips are still what, 90nm process at best? Atom is half that.

On speed the 1.6ghz Atom blows the fastest ARM chip out of the water - hell, the 1.6 Atom 945GCLF desktop board is as fast as an equivalent G5 iMac according to geekbench!!! There is a WORLD of difference between what ANYTHING is on the plate in the ARM world and what the Atom delivers... Hell, I'd stack a crappy little five year old 1ghz VIA Eden against the fastest ARM based chip in production.


I think you might be in need of a little bit of an update.

http://www.arm.com/products/CPUs/ARMCortex-A9_MPCore.html

http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS2917028234.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_Cortex-A9_MPCore

http://www.newlc.com/arm-unveils-cortex-a9-processors-scalable-perf...

ARM says the A9 is compatible with other Cortex family processors, and with software, middleware, and operating systems developed for them. ARM's own compatible intellectual property is said to include Neon media processing engine, Thumb-2 8- and 16-bit instructions, TrustZone pre-boot security features, Jazelle Java acceleration, Mali graphics, and the Program Trace Macrocell, potentially enabling use with the recently announced RealView Profiler dynamic code analysis tools.

Additional touted features and specs include:

* Dynamic length, 8-stage superscalar, multi-issue pipeline with speculative out-of-order execution
* Can execute up to four instructions per cycle in devices clocked at more than 1GHz
* Available with ARM Advantage standard cells and memories "for a traditional and convenient synthesizable flow
* 1.5 square mm of silicon area, when implemented on TSMC's 65nm process technology


So, some high points of the A9:

- quad core
- > 1 GHz
- super-scalar (giving over 2.0 DMIPS/MHz)
- 65nm process
- FPU is twice the speed of the previous ARM chip
- 250mW per core, so 1W for the quad core

I think you might find that the quad-core ARM Cortex A9 RISC chip has the Intel 1.86GHz single-core Nano CISC chip well and truly beat. Using less battery power.

Oh, and it has a ready-made OS and full desktop too:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Njg1MA

Edited 2009-03-12 10:45 UTC

Reply Score: 1

puenktchen Member since:
2007-07-27

@ deathshadow:

On speed the 1.6ghz Atom blows the fastest ARM chip out of the water - hell, the 1.6 Atom 945GCLF desktop board is as fast as an equivalent G5 iMac according to geekbench!!!


maybe according to this synthetic benchmark, but not according to reality. that's what counts, an that's where it's more like a 1,3 ghz g4:

http://www.appledifferent.com/2009/01/23/leo-in-the-sky-with-diamon...

the atom is faster where memory bandwith matters and slower when the g4 can use its superior simd-unit.

@ lemur2:

So, some high points of the A9:
... - 250mW per core, so 1W for the quad core


no - don't forget the caches etc.

I think you might find that the quad-core ARM Cortex A9 RISC chip has the Intel 1.86GHz single-core Nano CISC chip well and truly beat. Using less battery power.


you are comparing an atom processor which you can buy with a arm core design which won't translate into real products until

the second half of 2010.

http://focus.ti.com/pr/docs/preldetail.tsp?sectionId=594&prelId=sc0...

the arm processors which will be used in this years netbooks will all be single core designs. and that's fine with me, a single core will be sufficient if the gpu helps decoding movies etc. that's where an atom also doesn't cut it.

ed: usernames added

Edited 2009-03-12 15:23 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Just look at history
by ElCabri2 on Wed 11th Mar 2009 22:29 UTC
ElCabri2
Member since:
2009-03-11

There's never been a long term benefit of a different ISA (Instruction Set Architecture). Ever. Look at Apple's transition to Intel, look at the failure of Transmeta, look at the failure of Intel itself making IA-64 prevalent on workstations. Sooner or later, the dominant ISA prevails. The performance and feature advantages of the products using different ISA at a certain generation are ironed out two or three generations later. There's nothing that stops x86 and it's extensions from implementing any feature, any characteristic that you can think of, just as there is nothing that prevents the English language from expressing whatever idea or concept that you want, even if this idea or concept was originally formulated in another language.

All what these companies want is to make money for these two or three generations worth of 10-20% marketshare that they can get.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Just look at history
by lemur2 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 00:12 UTC in reply to "Just look at history"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

There's never been a long term benefit of a different ISA (Instruction Set Architecture). Ever. Look at Apple's transition to Intel, look at the failure of Transmeta, look at the failure of Intel itself making IA-64 prevalent on workstations. Sooner or later, the dominant ISA prevails.


This is only true in a market where software is exchanged in binary executable form, rather than in source code form.

Currently, there exist large software collections in either form. Having the source code available for at least one very large software collection makes alternative ISAs viable in the market.

The performance and feature advantages of the products using different ISA at a certain generation are ironed out two or three generations later. There's nothing that stops x86 and it's extensions from implementing any feature, any characteristic that you can think of, just as there is nothing that prevents the English language from expressing whatever idea or concept that you want, even if this idea or concept was originally formulated in another language. All what these companies want is to make money for these two or three generations worth of 10-20% marketshare that they can get.


While it is true that x86 can implement new features, it is not true that it can afford to get rid of its legacy overhead. The simple fact that the vast majority of the x86 software base is not exchanged in source code form means that for its continued existance, the x86 architecture MUST maintain strict binary application compatibility stretching back 20 years.

Ouch.

That is a significant burnden to carry.

Meanwhile, architectures that do not rely on strict binary compatibility, and instead "trade" in the huge and ever-growing base of software available as source code, are far more nimble. Without the burden of legacy binary compatibility, chips utilising this software base can readily be built with far greater power efficiency.

In many markets, "bang per buck" is not the primary deciding criteria any more. It is "bang per watt" that is more important in many devices, especially embedded or battery-powered devices. Legacy binary application compatibility is becoming ever less and less important.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Just look at history
by Delgarde on Thu 12th Mar 2009 01:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Just look at history"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

This is only true in a market where software is exchanged in binary executable form, rather than in source code form.


Which is, face it, all markets. I sit here writing this on a 100% open-source desktop - a RedHat distro, running Gnome, running Firefox. And not a single one of those packages was built by me from source code - all of them binaries provided by someone else.

Open source code certainly makes it easier to port to a different platform, but if you think an ARM netbook will be a success just because people can build any package for it, well, no. Binaries are what the users need, and binaries are what someone is going to have to provide.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Just look at history
by lemur2 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 03:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Just look at history"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"This is only true in a market where software is exchanged in binary executable form, rather than in source code form.
Which is, face it, all markets. I sit here writing this on a 100% open-source desktop - a RedHat distro, running Gnome, running Firefox. And not a single one of those packages was built by me from source code - all of them binaries provided by someone else. Open source code certainly makes it easier to port to a different platform, but if you think an ARM netbook will be a success just because people can build any package for it, well, no. Binaries are what the users need, and binaries are what someone is going to have to provide. "

Sigh! Yes, installable binaries are what the users need. No question.

The one ARM architecture machine that I personally happen to own is a ASUS WL700ge NAS/router, which is a pretty obscure device. I run OpenWrt (Kamikaze 7.09) on it, which in turn is very obscure.

http://openwrt.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenWrt
http://wl700g.homelinux.net/

For this very obscure OS, on my obscure ARM hardware, binaries are here:

http://downloads.openwrt.org/snapshots/brcm-2.4/packages/
http://ipkg.nslu2-linux.org/feeds/optware/ddwrt/cross/stable

(PS: OSNews editors might, or might not, be interested to know that I run the Cherokee web server software on it. Nice. I'm impressed.).

These binaries for ARM are available only because they are compiled from source which is available. One installs these packages using the ipkg software, which is not unlike apt.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipkg
http://www.handhelds.org/moin/moin.cgi/Ipkg

I didn't personally have to do the compiling. It is in the self-interest of the community to compile it for all members.

That was my whole point. If the source is available, the installable binaries will follow ... even for very obscure hardware.

Edited 2009-03-12 03:13 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Just look at history
by lemur2 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 03:30 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Just look at history"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

The one ARM architecture machine that I personally happen to own is a ASUS WL700ge NAS/router, which is a pretty obscure device. I run OpenWrt (Kamikaze 7.09) on it, which in turn is very obscure. http://openwrt.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenWrt http://wl700g.homelinux.net/ For this very obscure OS, on my obscure ARM hardware, binaries are here: http://downloads.openwrt.org/snapshots/brcm-2.4/packages/ http://ipkg.nslu2-linux.org/feeds/optware/ddwrt/cross/stable


Excuse me. This device is MIPs architecture, not ARM.

Sorry about that.

I think my point still applies, though.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Just look at history
by Lennie on Fri 13th Mar 2009 00:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Just look at history"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

There is already Debian for this (it has binaries for 2 MIPS, 2 ARM and 1 PowerPC architectures ), it comes with some really large number of packages. Even applications you probably would never want to run on it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Just look at history
by major86 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 09:18 UTC in reply to "Just look at history"
major86 Member since:
2008-04-21

Do not forget that ARM is SOC's god compared to Intel. Maybe Atom is some unreal marvel, but chipsets that come with it are certainly not.
/major86

Edited 2009-03-12 09:20 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Just look at history
by Lennie on Fri 13th Mar 2009 00:13 UTC in reply to "Just look at history"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Ths is mostly because of what lemur2 already said and because of the dominent position of Microsoft.

Reply Score: 1

obscure architecture in niche market
by richmassena on Thu 12th Mar 2009 03:05 UTC
richmassena
Member since:
2006-11-26

I don't see how the ARM platform could possibly offer any benefits in the netbook market. First of all, netbooks are a niche product, with limited functionality. I think we'll likely see the netbook disappear in a couple of years. The price of laptops keeps dropping. Low-range laptops will easily fill this space by then. Low-range being, 2ghz+ dual-core 2gb ram, 128GB SSD. Maybe these devices will still be called netbooks, but they'll be nothing of the kind. They'll be equivalent to today's mid-range laptops. Certainly people will want to run whatever incarnation of Windows or major distro of Linux that is available then and not a stripped-down Linux, or an outdated version of Windows.

That said, what does the ARM platform offer than won't be offered in the near future at these sizes. I think the cost, size and weight, and battery life will be comparable and the price will be competitive (within $100 of the netbook cast) if not comparable.

Reply Score: 1

The purpose of netbooks
by zenulator on Thu 12th Mar 2009 06:06 UTC
zenulator
Member since:
2008-06-29

I don't think it's about who will dominate the netbook market but rather what the netbook will be marketed as.
Right now most see the atom based netbook as a mini-laptop. When the arm based netbooks start to come around they will most likely be marketed more as an internet device/pda and they will most likely be running mobile operating systems like android, symbian or even windows mobile. If they market the arm netbooks as anything more than a uber pda then I don't see a bright future ahead of them.

Reply Score: 1

RE: The purpose of netbooks
by lemur2 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 06:15 UTC in reply to "The purpose of netbooks"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Right now most see the atom based netbook as a mini-laptop. When the arm based netbooks start to come around they will most likely be marketed more as an internet device/pda and they will most likely be running mobile operating systems like android, symbian or even windows mobile. If they market the arm netbooks as anything more than a uber pda then I don't see a bright future ahead of them.


Why not?

Why not a full desktop OS, gaming even, given that with ARM architecture we can get quad-core CPU, 1GHz @ 1Watt?

Why wouldn't one of these in a netbook, given that it doesn't have x86 overhead, be able to run a full-featured desktop? Take it with you easily when you are out and about, plug it in to a full-sized screen, keyboard and mouse when you are sitting down somewhere. Same machine ... no compromise on power. The ultimate in ultra-portability.

You might even see something like this within this year.

There is even an OS available for it, and it could easily support a cutting-edge innovative desktop like KDE 4.2 or later. Nice.

Edited 2009-03-12 06:21 UTC

Reply Score: 3

OLPC going to ARM
by lemur2 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 08:57 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

http://www.osnews.com/story/21124/OLPC_Dumping_x86_Urges_Microsoft_...

Concern over the lack of "bang per watt" of x86 is the apparent cause there, also.

Reply Score: 2

ARM market share ahead
by Traumflug on Thu 12th Mar 2009 10:52 UTC
Traumflug
Member since:
2008-05-22

Interestingly, even the most pessimistic analyst gives ARM at least a 10% market share a few years ahead. That means, users can rely on sufficient support in terms of Linux distros, hardware compatibility.

As on how steep the success will be - I agree this will heavily depend on the i386 compatibility issue. Apple's smooth CPU transitions all came along with some sort of compatibility layer / emulator layer. ARM doesn't neccessarily have to go the same path, but they'll have to find something like a solution for this problem. At least at the user interface level.

Reply Score: 1

RE: ARM market share ahead
by lemur2 on Thu 12th Mar 2009 11:02 UTC in reply to "ARM market share ahead"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

As on how steep the success will be - I agree this will heavily depend on the i386 compatibility issue. Apple's smooth CPU transitions all came along with some sort of compatibility layer / emulator layer. ARM doesn't neccessarily have to go the same path, but they'll have to find something like a solution for this problem. At least at the user interface level.


What problem?

They have a full OS and full suite of desktop applications (Ubuntu 9.04), with cutting edge GUI, zero cost, ready to roll.

As for the GUI familiarity ... people can't even tell its not Windows.

http://atechiesthoughts.com/2009/01/27/experience-with-kde-42-and-w...

http://rubenerdshow.com/blog/p2408/

http://www.downloadsquad.com/2009/02/06/windows-7-or-kde-4/

http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=13515

http://www.joejoe.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=17577

http://www.zdnet.com.au/insight/software/soa/Is-it-Windows-7-or-KDE...

"Is it Windows 7 or KDE 4? In this video, we take to Sydney's streets to find out what people think of what they think is a Windows 7 demonstration."

Edited 2009-03-12 11:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

linux ARMy
by Bounty on Thu 12th Mar 2009 17:02 UTC
Bounty
Member since:
2006-09-18

Are you guys saying ARM is currently faster? Even has a full software ecosystem running on it http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Njg1MA

So then where is it? I've seen demo's on youtube, but not in stores. By 2010, intel will have even deeper penetration / mindshare.

BTW. Psion netBook. First to market, should have been the iPod of netbooks then? Eventually moved to WindowsCE and never went anywhere.

Actual iPod of netbooks........... ASUS EEPC, with x86 + Microsoft. Why? Ease of use, cool factor, just like iPod. Lesson, netbooks really want to be regular, and small/cute laptops. How cozy, comfortable. Even their price keeps creeping up to regular laptop range. DOH!

I'm not saying Arm + linux is bad or can't happen. I just think that Intel has effectively grown it's monopoly, and that's what your up against. It'll be hard work. It will take innovation like the touchscreen-removable keyboard type things. Plus great software.

Bounty out.

Reply Score: 1

RE: linux ARMy
by lemur2 on Fri 13th Mar 2009 00:22 UTC in reply to "linux ARMy"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

So then where is it? I've seen demo's on youtube, but not in stores. By 2010, intel will have even deeper penetration / mindshare.


This article is about the future of ARM on netbooks. If Intel Atom is "good enough" on a netbook today, then soon to come with ARM we should see a faster processor using half the power. Say 10 to 12 hours running on battery power after a single charge. This is compelling stuff for a netbook. For their future, Intel are talking only of more powerful chips ... eating more battery not less.

BTW. Psion netBook. First to market, should have been the iPod of netbooks then? Eventually moved to WindowsCE and never went anywhere.


Not powerful enough.

Actual iPod of netbooks........... ASUS EEPC, with x86 + Microsoft. Why? Ease of use, cool factor, just like iPod. Lesson, netbooks really want to be regular, and small/cute laptops. How cozy, comfortable.


So powerful enough.

Even their price keeps creeping up to regular laptop range. DOH!


And the life on battery power starts to drop. Double DOH! This is actually the "in" required for ARM.

I'm not saying Arm + linux is bad or can't happen. I just think that Intel has effectively grown it's monopoly, and that's what your up against. It'll be hard work. It will take innovation like the touchscreen-removable keyboard type things. Plus great software.


This is where we differ. Already, on netbooks, there is advice if you have Windows to use all FOSS applications anyway, because otherwise you will utterly blow away the price advantage you were looking for:

http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3809736/Outfit-Yo...

OK ... if you are going to run open source on your netbook anyway (in order to keep the total price to a sane level) ... then you may as well take the very first suggestion of the above article and start with Ubuntu in the first place. You will also save yourself the time and hassle of gathering up and installing all these other applications. Your own time is valuable, after all ... if I am to believe what Windows supporters often tout.

Edited 2009-03-13 00:33 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Bartoli
by Bartoli on Fri 13th Mar 2009 11:35 UTC
Bartoli
Member since:
2007-10-06

I don't see much future for a Linux/ARM combination on netbooks. A Linux/little-endian mips seems a more likely possibility, particularly in light of the pending arrival of the Loongson 3 sometime in 2010.

Reply Score: 1