Linked by Kroc Camen on Thu 6th May 2010 07:54 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems In 2009 ARM showed off prototype netbooks "capable of driving HD content, can surf the web for 8 hours, and will cost round and about 250 USD". Yet still, none have made it to the market. Why do you think this is so? Because ARM signed a deal with Adobe in 2008 to bring Flash and AIR to the ARM architecture, a promise they will finally deliver later this year. And you wonder why Apple won't have Flash on the iPhone when it can hold back an entire product category for two years.
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Morty
Member since:
2005-07-06

ARM laptops being delayed because of Adobe? I just don't believe that!

Totally agreed, it does not sound plausible. Double so since there already exist a flash version for ARM. It's not optimal, but I doubt hardware manufacturers care if they decide there are money to be made.

I think the delay was due to these

Disagreed, mostly because you seem to missinterpret the nature of ARM. They do not sell processors, they only license IP.

1. both ARM and TSMC underestimated the challenges of low-power multi-GHz design.

High speed ARM SoCs are offered from multiple vendors and sold in high numbers alrady, so the design sounds solid.

2. ARM is still experimenting with their GPU line!

Different vendors pair ARM cores with various GPU cores, the most powerful ones comparable to regular Atom offerings. A common alternative are actually GMA500 or slight variants of it. The solution is already on the market and competitive compared to Atom.

3. Intel moved Atom manufacturing to TSMC mostly to delay ARM development (I bet you didn't thought of that one!!)

I do not think that would affect all the ARM suppliers. Unlikely that Intel could deny all of TI, ST, Freescale, NXP, Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcom, Atmel, Actel, Micrel etc manufacturing capacity.

4. ARM wasted a lot of resources on low-power embedded models: Cortex-M0, M1, M3, M5 and M6.

Those models outsell all of Intels x86 range with a huge margin. And again, ARM does not manufacture anything, TI, ST, Freescale, NXP, Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcom, Atmel, Actel, Micrel etc does. And they have been delivering chips based on those designs for a while now. As is Cortex-A8 and A9 is in the loop, so ARM is already licensing out those designs. So one could stipulate that the needed resources are already spent.

5. on a tablet/notebook, the CPU/GPU power is a fraction of the LCD power anyway.

A fair amount of power goes to the LCD back-lite, but an Atom with accompanying chip-set easily push past the 5W mark so a more efficient SoC can easily give you an extra hour or two(or demand a smaller battery).

Manufacturers had to wait for AMOLED to become cheaper.

Nah, they easily go for the same cheap crap as they use in netbooks.


6. sure, ARM may have been delayed a few weeks due to Flash issues ;)

The manufacturers may put a small delay into launch depending on such external issues as seasonal scheduling(student semester start and the like), service provider wishes(phone companies offering dataplans etc) or a nearly finished Flash. But not to this extent, as time to market counts.


7. TSMC was switching to a lower node and had as usual allocated a lot of resources for next generation FPGAs (due to their simple structure, memories and FPGAs are always the first to be tested on a new process node)

Not all ARM manufactures depend on TSMC.

8. who knows, maybe ARM is busy with the cellphone market and isn't really interested in laptops at the moment...

The suppliers of ARM SoCs want to sell chips, they do not care to much in witch market their chips get used.

The biggest reason for the delay of such devices are the hardware vendors, like Asus, Acer etc, they are not ready to commit to the market segment. They are not confident that the market are economically viable, and to cut into their own netbook market. And the cheap Chinese producers are to busy churning out variants of their Atom based designs, to get as much profit as possible out of it, to spend development resources on competing ARM based designs.

Reply Parent Score: 3

fatjoe Member since:
2010-01-12

Thanks Morty!

I was feeling that this thread was ignored in favor of the usual fanboy and flame war comments, but you gave me my hope back...

Anyway, here are my follow-up comments:


0. Disagreed, mostly because you seem to missinterpret the nature of ARM. They do not sell processors, they only license IP.


Actually, when you go high-speed and/or low-power, you can't just buy Verilog code from ARM. You will need to buy a hard-macro optimized for an specific foundry.

1. High speed ARM SoCs are offered from multiple vendors and sold in high numbers alrady, so the design sonds solid.

Actually no. How many handheld Cortex-A9 at 2.0 GHz have you seen so far? Qualcomm has done some work on snapdragon, but they are not licensing their work to anyone else, and why would they? And why didnt Apple by SoC from Samsung as they usually do this time?

2. Different vendors pair ARM cores with various GPU cores, the most powerful ones comparable to regular Atom offerings. A common alternative are actually GMA500 or slight variants of it. The solution is already on the market and competitive compared to Atom.

Yes. And if you think about it, what you wrote is a very good reason for ARM to delay their netbook line until the new "Mali" is out.

3. I do not think that would affect all the ARM suppliers. Unlikely that Intel could deny all of TI, ST, Freescale, NXP, Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcom, Atmel, Actel, Micrel etc manufacturing capacity.

I actually happen to know that it did ;)

4. Those models outsell all of Intels x86 range with a huge margin. And again, ARM does not manufacture anything, TI, ST, Freescale, NXP, Samsung, Nvidia, Qualcom, Atmel, Actel, Micrel etc does. And they have been delivering chips based on those designs for a while now. As is Cortex-A8 and A9 is in the loop, so ARM is already licensing out those designs. So one could stipulate that the needed resources are already spent.

I think you are mistaking Cortex-Mn with ARM9 and ARM11. The ones I mentioned are not available "in production quantities" yet.

5. A fair amount of power goes to the LCD back-lite, but an Atom with accompanying chip-set easily push past the 5W mark so a more efficient SoC can easily give you an extra hour or two(or demand a smaller battery).
[...]
Nah, they easily go for the same cheap crap as they use in netbooks.

Fair enough, but ARM does not have an efficient SoC for these types of applications yet [see my previous point about the GPU]. Also, do you think normal users would give up a windows laptop with 12 hours of battery life for a completely untested ARM platform with, say, 14 hours of battery life?



6. Not all ARM manufactures depend on TSMC.

The initial multi-GHz design are all on TSMC, who is working with ARM to increase performance/lower power at the moment.

8. The suppliers of ARM SoCs want to sell chips, they do not care to much in witch market their chips get used.

Actually, this one would since it means a major shift of focus for ARM and they maybe were not feeling ready for it yet [again, see my previous point about GPU].


The biggest reason for the delay of such devices are the hardware vendors, like Asus, Acer etc, they are not ready to commit to the market segment. They are not confident that the market are economically viable, and to cut into their own netbook market. And the cheap Chinese producers are to busy churning out variants of their Atom based designs, to get as much profit as possible out of it, to spend development resources on competing ARM based designs.

Yes, this is very much true.

Reply Parent Score: 1