Arm vs. Intel: Who's David? Who's Goliath? -

Arm vs. Intel: Who’s David? Who’s Goliath?

There is an intense competition between Intel and ARM over who will dominate the world of Internet-centric computing. It strikes me as a David vs. Goliath battle. But who is David? And who is Goliath?
Intel, with an estimated $40 billion in sales each year, is trying hard to establish new markets to replace the maturing PC platform. After dipping in all things embedded, mobile and wireless several times in the past and then withdrawing, now the company is trying again, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in processors, operating systems, and boards, and in the creation of an infrastructure of independent suppliers of hardware and software.
Despite its deep financial pockets, Intel’s tardy efforts may be no more than David’s slingshot against the sword and armor of the Goliath ARM has become. Despite an estimated annual revenue of just under $500 million from licensing its processor architecture, it claims as adherents to its architecture virtually every major and minor semiconductor company in the world, except for Intel and its arch-rival AMD.

After cultivating a segment of the market Intel ignored for several decades, ARM has built up an infrastructure of several hundred hardware and software tool suppliers that Intel will be a long time in matching.
All ARM’s impressive infrastructure will be on display this week at the 2010 ARM Technical Conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Nov. 9-11. To give you a taste of the quality of the presentations and classes that will be available, here are 4 papers I have selected as my Editor’s Top Picks:
“Efficient C code for ARM devices,” by Chris Shore
“Power Aware Verification of ARM Designs,” by Ping Yeung and Erich Marschner
“A developer’s insight into ARM Cortex M debugging,” by Mark Kraeling
“Reliable programming  in ARM assembly language,” by Greg Davis.
If you have not made up your mind about attending the Arm TechCon, a couple of recent webinars – A Guided Tour of Arm TechCon 2010 and My Arm TechCon – might be helpful. To prepare you for the conference if you’re attending, or to give you a taste for what you’re missing if you don’t, I can recommend any number of design articles, white papers, webinars available on,  including some of my favorites:
“Build bare-metal ARM systems with GNU,” a 10-parter by Miro Samek
“ Migrating ARM7 code to a Cortex-M3 MCU,” a 2-parter by Todd Hixon
“Debugging with Cortex M3 Microcontrollers,” by Reinhardt Keil.
Right now I would place my bet on Arm, but let’s not forget that Goliath’s armor and sword were not enough and David prevailed with nothing but a slingshot. What do YOU think?(EET/ Editor Bernard Cole,, 928-525-9087 )

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