Netbooks use various types of processors, but most of them are built around Intel’s Atom processor and architecture. There are more exotic options, such as the Chinese Longsoon processor, but those are quite rare and hard to come by – and certainly not as powerful. Apparently, another contender is preparing to enter the netbook processor market. Say hello to ARM.
Rob Coombs, director of mobile solutions at ARM, has told ZDNet that the company’s upcoming Cortex A-8 and Cortex A-9 processors will find its way not only into smartphones, but also into netbooks. “In the future we’re going to be in netbooks,” Coombs said, “Expect announcements in the next few months.”
The Cortex A-8 will be the successor to the ARM11 architecture, found mostly in smartphones (like the iPhone) and PDAs (assuming people still buy those). The company claims that the Cortex A-8 goes into gigahertz territory, which is probably a requirement if you take a look at the competition ARM is facing. The Cortex A-9 is the multicore brother of the A-8, and will become available in 2010. The UK-based company will face Intel head-on on this one, but will obviously be in a bit of a pickle because Windows XP and Vista do not run on the ARM architecture – you’d need Windows CE/Mobile/Embedded/etc./etc. for that. Of course, Linux will run on and adapt to ARM just fine, so most likely, these netbooks will run Linux.
Funnily enough, Intel itself is an ARM-licensee, and the company has also announced plans to move into the smartphone territory with its next-generation Atom chips, expected late 2009.