Sunday, May 25, 2008

ARM'd to the teeth

Last month, Intel said it wants to own mobile phones the way it does PCs. The only obstacle along the way is dominant position of ARM-licensed CPUs in the mobile phone market.

In tomorrow’s Financial Times, the CEO of ARM “sounded a note of defiance”:

“Who is to say it will be Intel taking market share from ARM and not the other way?” said Mr East.

“Intel will probably always be able to make a microprocessor that runs faster, but ARM can do one that uses less power. We are still a long way ahead in that.”
As part of its counter-attack, ARM claims it can leverage the efficiency of the ARM chips to save power in server farms.

However, the FT article makes the words of the British CEO sound like bluster:
Mr East insists that ARM, whose chip designs power 98 per cent of the world’s mobile phones, has little to fear. However, the company’s heavy focus on the “Intel issue” at its recent analyst day in London is seen as a sign of growing concern.

“ARM is clearly paranoid about Intel,” said Robert Sanders, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort. “It is a very well resourced company and could easily catch up with ARM.” Mr Sanders said most mobile phone manufacturers, who had invested heavily in using ARM-based chips, were highly unlikely to switch to Intel’s products.
Intel has made some missteps before, including its last foray into mobile phones (that was jettisoned in the Marvel spinoff). But thinking that it can scare Intel (or convince the world that it would threaten Intel) seems like a losing strategy.

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