Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Jan 2010 20:21 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems And yet another item on the iPad? Are we serious? Yes, we are, since this one is about something that even geeks who aren't interested in the iPad itself should find intriguing. Steve Jobs said yesterday that the iPad is powered by an Apple A4 processor, but contrary to what many seem to think - it wasn't designed in-house at all.
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Comment by re_re
by re_re on Thu 28th Jan 2010 22:25 UTC
re_re
Member since:
2005-07-06

Microsoft is a big company, I would be very supprised if they did not have multiple architectures supported deep within the confines of their R&D lab. The same goes for Apple. Bottom line is that if and when x86 becomes less viable (now?) both companies will be ready to jump ship on x86.

ARM is much more efficient then x86 in general and as ARM power increases, x86 is sure to suffer a slow and painful death in the low end computing market.

I would also argue that gamers and folks running high end workstations will likely stick with x86 for quite a while.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by re_re
by lemur2 on Fri 29th Jan 2010 00:31 in reply to "Comment by re_re"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Microsoft is a big company, I would be very supprised if they did not have multiple architectures supported deep within the confines of their R&D lab. The same goes for Apple. Bottom line is that if and when x86 becomes less viable (now?) both companies will be ready to jump ship on x86.


The problem for Microsoft and Apple is not that they would be unable to port their software to another architecture, but rather that their paradigm for distribution of software (not only their software, but also software from other vendors intended for their platforms) is in binary executable form only. This leaves them with a large corpus of existing software that won't run on any new architecture.

ARM is much more efficient then x86 in general and as ARM power increases, x86 is sure to suffer a slow and painful death in the low end computing market. I would also argue that gamers and folks running high end workstations will likely stick with x86 for quite a while.


I'm not so sure that the decline of x86 in the low end market will be as slow as you imagine. Already more ARM CPUs are sold than x86 CPUs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture
The ARM architecture is the most widely used 32-bit ISA in terms of numbers produced.


Even at the high end ... larger machines these days are often merely arrays of tightly-interconnected smaller processors. Google are a good example of this. A large array of x86 machines draws a lot of power, whereas an even larger array (numerically) of ARM devices might be able to achieve the same performance (for applications such as Google) at lower cost and much lower power consumption.

Edited 2010-01-29 00:33 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by re_re
by lemur2 on Fri 29th Jan 2010 09:34 in reply to "RE: Comment by re_re"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Even at the high end ... larger machines these days are often merely arrays of tightly-interconnected smaller processors. Google are a good example of this. A large array of x86 machines draws a lot of power, whereas an even larger array (numerically) of ARM devices might be able to achieve the same performance (for applications such as Google) at lower cost and much lower power consumption.


Speaking again of the high end and Intel versus ARM, here is a high end CPU family from Intel:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=intel_core_i7&nu...
The current Core i7 processor selection includes the 920, 940, and 965 Extreme Edition. All three of these processors are quad-core parts, but Intel has brought back Hyper Threading, which means the logical core count is eight. For each of the four cores there is 256KB of L2 cache, while 8MB of L3 cache is shared between all of the cores. With Intel evidently not being interested in Linux results for their Core i7 series, we had received no review samples of the Core i7 series. However, we ended up purchasing an Intel Core i7 920 for this round of testing, which comes clocked at 2.66GHz. The Core i7 940 is clocked at 2.93GHz while the Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition runs at 3.20GHz. The Intel Core i7 920 currently retails for just above $280 USD.


http://everythingapple.blogspot.com/2009/11/imac-core-i7-power-util...
TDP of the Lynnfield Core i7-860 CPU is only 95 Watts (not 100) at max usage


Now that is a considerable amount of grunt for a microprocessor CPU, but it eats 95 Watts!

OK, now consider a modest 32-bit ARM Cortex A9 CPU @ 2 GHz. Apparently it uses under 2 watts. One could run over 40 ARM Cortex A9 CPUS with 95 Watts. That comes to 80 cores. That is ten times as many cores ... admittedly only 32-bit cores, and clocked slower, but still.

For some applications, those amenable to load sharing, perhaps this discussion might indicate where the future is ...

Edited 2010-01-29 09:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by re_re
by REM2000 on Fri 29th Jan 2010 09:37 in reply to "RE: Comment by re_re"
REM2000 Member since:
2006-07-25

didn't Apple handle this with universal binary's and rosetta for the architecture shift from PPC to x86?

Reply Parent Score: 2