Is it Intel vs ARM in consumer, MIDs? - Embedded.com

Is it Intel vs ARM in consumer, MIDs?

In the early part of this decade Intel made a play for the thenemerging consumer-oriented network device, mobile phone and portable multimediaplayer markets with its StrongARM-derived PXA2xx and IXP4xx processor families. When the market forcesturned against it, Intel abandoned this effort, as well as thearchitectures, and went back to the safety of the desktop. With thematuration of the PC market, Intel has switched back again. This time,it is building its strategy around the X86 architecture that is at thecore of its desktop and server products.

At the recent Intel Developer Conference the company took the wrapsoff a new NetTVprocessor and an X86 settop box processor, andintroduced other variations on the consumer theme. Intel is also vying with ARM Ltd. for adominate share of the Mobile Internet Device market with itsnew Atom CPU. And there are reports thatIntel'sAtom CPU will displace ARM in the iPhone.

ARM Ltd. has not been passive in the face of this challenge to itsdominance in mobile phones, portable media devices and the new MobileInternet Devices, and ARM has been working with partners on acounter-strategy.

Does a multi-billion dollar processor giant have a chance against anIntellectual Property firm such as ARM, which makes only a tinyfraction of the income that Intel does, but whose CPU architecture islicensed by virtually every consumer, industrial, and automotiveelectronics company in the world?

If infrastructure counts, ARM has the edge. Indicative of the influence of itsarchitecture are the range of Design Articles on the ARM architecturethat have run in recent years on Embedded.com:, including: building a bare metal ARM design , lowpower modes on an ARM MCU , using ARM's data abortexception , using the ARM Cortex-R4 for DSP,building a bootloaderfor an ARM-based portable multimedia system, debugging with the Cortex-M3 MCUand using ARM DBXextensions to accelerate Java .

What do you think? Can Intel compete with ARM in this market?

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