For year now, the x86 microprocessor market has been dominated by Intel and AMD, and the rivalry between the two companies forced both to be innovative in order to gain a competitive advantage over the other – benefiting customers. With the rise of ‘mobile internet devices’ and low-power budget notebooks, this new market will be enriched by not only Via, but also nVIDIA.Via announced its Nano platform for low-power budget notebooks a week ago. The Nano platform, based one a new microarchitecture called Isaiah, is designed to compete with Intel’s Atom processors. These types of processors are generally low-cost, and suited for devices like Asus’ Eee PC and similar offerings from other hardware vendors.
At the same time, nVIDIA announced its own processor line to compete with Intel’s Atom, with an offering using ARM technology instead of x86. eWeek writes:
The new Tegra 650 series processor is extremely small – 144 millimeters square – and will consume less than one watt of power, which should help increase battery life. The system-on-a-chip design includes an 800MHz ARM 11 CPU, a low-watt Nvidia GeForce GPU (graphics processing unit), an image processor and a high-definition video processor. It can also support hard disk drives, a mouse and other peripherals.
Intel of course has the advantage of being a very well established name, and its sheer size could prove quite the daunting opponent for Via and nVIDIA. Still, eWeek writes, analysts believe the two smaller companies stand a chance. “Intel’s sheer size and its OEM relationships should serve it well here,” writes Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, “But the greater market for netbooks and similar devices is so immature that determining the dividing line between failure and success is likely to be challenging for the foreseeable future.”
One advantage that Linux and the BSD’s have in this arena is portability. There are already ARM ports. Windows currently is tied to X86, even though NT was ported to Alpha and MIPS, so perhaps it could again be ported (I doubt it). Instead, only Windows Mobile competes in this realm. I afraid I’d much rather have a nice Ubuntu or FreeBSD with Firefox or Konqueror than WM with IE. Go Free OS’s!