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ARM Attacks Intel's Netbook Stranglehold 521

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-can-be-only-several dept.
Barence writes "British chip designer ARM is launching an outright attack on Intel with the launch of a 2GHz processor aimed at everything from netbooks to servers. ARM claims the 40nm Cortex A9 MPCore processor represents a shift in strategy for the company, which has until now concentrated on low-power processors for mobile devices. In the consumer market, ARM is pitching the Cortex A9 directly against Intel's Atom, claiming the processor offers five times the power while drawing comparable amounts of energy. 'It's head and shoulders above anything Intel can deliver today,' ARM VP of marketing Eric Schom claims. However, it has one major hurdle to overcome: it doesn't support Windows. 'We've had conversations with Microsoft and you can imagine what they entail,' says Schom."
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ARM Attacks Intel's Netbook Stranglehold

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  • Goody (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:54AM (#29441141) Homepage Journal

    Broken, first gen/beta ARM drivers for all my hardware!

    • by Albanach (527650)

      Looking at most the Atom devices around, they tend to be in small devices with a limited amount of hardware. Looking at my eeebox, ir has nothing other than a keyboard, mouse and hdtv attached. For netbooks, you know pretty well exactly what hardware you need to support.

      If they can make sure there's an HD supporting graphics chipset with drivers, this will be an interesting chip.

      • Re:Goody (Score:4, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@corne[ ]edu ['ll.' in gap]> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:10PM (#29441421) Homepage

        Yeah. With a few exceptions, about the only variation between most netbooks out there in terms of required drivers are the following:
        1) WiFi chipset
        2) Card reader chipset (newer ones all seem to be USB mass storage, older ones tended to be a bit less standardized)
        3) Bluetooth chipset (Bluetooth chipsets are basically standardized - While I know nonstandard ones exist, Bluetooth adapters that aren't a USB device compliant with a particular USB class are extremely rare.)

        This is because the Intel Atom platform is EXTREMELY standardized. With a few rare exceptions, if you use an N-series Atom processor, it'll be paired with one of two variants of the Intel 945G chipset with GMA950 graphics.

        Atom Z-series are a different story - they are all paired with a particular chipset with "GMA500" graphics, which unlike most Intel chipsets has basically nonexistent Linux support. So never buy an Atom Z-series based machine if you want to run Linux, they are nearly always paired with unsupported graphics.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        While that may be true for...say a geek with IT experience, you really have to think like Joe and Sally average. You know what my customers call Netbooks? They call them "baby laptops" which is VERY important. You see they expect their "baby laptops" to be able to do most of the things a big laptop would, only slower...well because they are babies and babies are little. Intel was VERY smart in that respect, by pairing the Atom with WinXP it runs the apps folks are used to, and because of the "baby laptop" a

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737)

      I know, there's nothing like a lack of attention to hinder the pace of driver development. Therefore we should never adopt the alternative platform, as the drivers will obviously not improve.

      On the other hand, I would like to see someone give Intel a run for their money since it seems AMD is being kneecapped. If ARM does it from the low/embedded end and moves up (leveraging their huge number of licensees) then all the more power to them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hadlock (143607)

        Great! You go ahead and be an early adopter, suffer through first gen/beta headaches, buggy drivers, random system crashes. Call me and let me know when it's stable enough for "mom". I don't know about you, but I've grown used to stable hardware, and I'm not about to go back to pre-XP SP1 crashyness for an extra hour of battery life, maybe even two. 5 hrs is plenty enough for me.

      • Re:Goody (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:42PM (#29441979) Journal
        Any half-decent OS (I think this even include Linux these days) uses the same drivers on multiple architectures with just an abstraction layer for dealing with the different busses. OpenBSD on ARM, for example, supports exactly the same set of USB devices as OpenBSD on x86, including things like USB video cameras. If anything, supporting multiple architectures improves the quality of the code. NetBSD and OpenBSD both recommend testing all drivers on x86 and SPARCv9 and this has helped find a lot of bugs that are not obvious on x86 but crash on SPARC, which has improved the drivers and benefitted x86 users.
    • by MoxFulder (159829) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:50PM (#29442127) Homepage

      However, it has one major hurdle to overcome: it doesn't support Windows.

      Fuck Windows. Seriously.

      I've been unwillingly paying the Microsoft tax for TEN YEARS. All I ever do is wipe Windows and install Linux. If my new computer can't run Windows then... great!! Maybe I won't have to pay the tax.

      I'd love a low-power, high-performance ARM notebook. I'd be happy with MIPS or Loongson (Chinese MIPS clone) as well. Debian already has a full-blown ARM port and I'll bet they could get it working on an ARM netbook in a day. Ubuntu would undoubtedly be soon-to-follow.

      As a side benefit, having multiple widely-used architectures for desktop systems (x86 and ARM) would be a support nightmare for hardware companies that still keep their drivers proprietary and undocumented. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Broadcom and NVidia. This would just be another nail in the coffin for their obstructionist attitudes towards free/open-source operating systems.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Smivs (1197859)

        However, it has one major hurdle to overcome: it doesn't support Windows.

        Fuck Windows. Seriously.

        I've been unwillingly paying the Microsoft tax for TEN YEARS. All I ever do is wipe Windows and install Linux. If my new computer can't run Windows then... great!! Maybe I won't have to pay the tax.

        On a serious note, why not get your computer built for you (or DIY if you can). I had mine built by a small local company (Intel core2 quad, 4Gig RAM and 250Gig hard drive so a decent spec) and it cost well under £300. It came 'empty' - no OS - so I could install Ubuntu with NO Windoze contamination. It works geat. It's never given me any trouble at all and it does everything I want, quickly and very well.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:57AM (#29441203)

    I suppose Ubuntu Linux is just chopped liver.

    C'mon people. Wake up! There are tons of operating systems out there. Some are even better than Windows! *gasp*

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Publikwerks (885730)
      I like Ubuntu, but to ignore a large percentage(albielt shrinking as linux netbooks gain popularity) is kinda a big deal. It will be intresting to see if they can get hardware support, or if they will just end up like Transmeta
      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:58PM (#29442255)

        ...(albielt shrinking as linux netbooks gain popularity)...

        I don't know where you've been seeing the growth, but linux has held pretty steadily at sub-1% desktop market share for years. Netbooks gave it a slight boost when first released, but MS quickly squashed that and now dominates the netbook market. It's true that Windows has been losing ground, but it's OSX that has been gaining, they are up to almost 10% share last time I looked, just a few years ago they were at less than 5%, so that's pretty darn good.

        Linux? Not so much. As for the popularity, ARM is pretty popular as is on small devices, one could say they dominate, and MS already has some software that runs on ARM processors, so if this new breed of ARM is popular then we could see MS make the jump. But it will have to work in that order, the ARM will need to be popular and THEN MS will jump on it, it won't magically happen the other way around (unless MS has a major stake in ARM, which I don't think they do).

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:09PM (#29442491) Journal
        Most people won't be using something like a (cheap) ARM portable as their only computer. For those few apps that depend on Windows, they still have their other computer.
    • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:51PM (#29442131)
      Just out of curiosity, does the ARM version of Ubuntu take advantage of some of the stuff in ARM for doing HD video at low power? Or is it just ubuntu, recompiled for the architecture? There are several advantages to each different CPU. Do things like Flash (or even Gnash) work on ARM? Or VLC, or anything?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by marcosdumay (620877)

        MPlayer already takes advantaje of several different processors characteristics, requiring a simple recopile. If it doesn't aready, it doesn't take a lot to take full advantaje of this chip.

        Also, flash does run on ARM, but I guess it doesn't optimize for each processor. If we are luck, that will make Google start streaming Youtube videos on a way that uses mplayer. They can even keep the flv format.

    • The PcPro article showed their ignorance when they wrote:
      "Nevertheless, netbook manufacturers running the ARM processor will be forced to adopt an alternative such as Google's Android, Windows CE or even Windows Mobile."

      They mentioned running windows mobile over the ability to run fully fledged distributions such as debian with huge repositories.
      I can't wait for these laptop to start coming out, microsoft can't even pay people to put XP on them this time.
  • by mikeabbott420 (744514) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:02PM (#29441279) Journal
    Linux already made MS drop their price, allwing cheap windows netbooks because of linux. It's not out of the question that a really compelling ARM netbook would scare them into ARM support. I would be surprised if they didn't have something similar to the x86 apple builds in the powerPC era. Of course windows is mainly valuable for its 3rd party software so people who buy these putative ARM/windows machines may be better off with linux anyway.
    • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:11PM (#29441427)
      A Linux-based netbook won't worry MS if it only does what a MS netbook does. It needs to do more.

      For example - they brag that the ARM "offers five times the power while drawing comparable amounts of energy". But, netbooks rarely use all of the processing power they have right now. If the ARM had equal processing power, but five times the battery life, they'd have a compelling product. The current standard of eight hours on a XP-based netbook is barely enough; a netbook that lasted forty hours would be a market breakthrough, and would be compelling enough to get people to switch to Linux.
      • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:18PM (#29441539)

        The current standard of eight hours on a XP-based netbook

        Having owned an XP netbook (aspire one) I must say that an eight-hour standard is optimistic beyond belief, and likely only possible if you leave it sitting there. The Atom processor is power hungry and once you start actually using it the battery life plummets considerably.

        ARM already has an advantage on power consumption, if they can match the Atom on performance I suspect they'll win on battery life by default.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:29PM (#29441729)
        Whether the ARM chip performance is even adequate for normal netbook applications (e.g. watching youtube) is an open question until somebody tries it. Sure, ARM threw out this number of 5x, which is a meaningless number until we get a better overall idea of how fast and slow it is on different tasks.

        Second, even cutting the CPU power consumption to zero wouldn't give you anywhere near 40 hours of battery life in a netbook. The CPU is just one piece of it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by AlecC (512609)

          There are already Arm based netbooks out there, using the current low-perofmance chips, so presumably Arm has a reasonable reference on how fast their new chip will run a Linux netbook.

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:14PM (#29442567) Journal
          Note that watching YouTube is actually not a relevant benchmark for the ARM core. On most existing ARM SoCs, video decoding is offloaded to the DSP, ISP, or GPU and most of the A8 versions can decode 720p H.264 without any problems (and without touching the ARM core). SoC manufacturers like Freescale have partnered with Adobe to ship custom versions of Flash that take advantage of the extra hardware on the chip for exactly this. This means that an ARM chip will generally do a lot better, in terms of power usage, than Atom when watching YouTube because it's using dedicated hardware for the video decoding, while the Atom is doing it on the CPU.
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but TFA is about an ARM chip with a a 2GHz clock and a low power footprint.

        Or in other words, a chip with the same processing power as an Atom, but with better battery life.

        Or in other words- is that what you were after?

      • by hackerjoe (159094) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:51PM (#29442147)

        If the ARM had equal processing power, but five times the battery life, they'd have a compelling product.

        Well, it sort of does. Battery life and CPU power are actually somewhat convertible.

        When the CPU isn't doing work, its power consumption drops considerably -- if you have two CPUs with the same designed maximum consumption, but one has twice the computing power available, then for the same workload that processor will use (a little bit more than) half the energy.

        Of course the real picture is not so rosy, because a CPU that uses that little power to start with is probably accounting for less than half of the total power consumption of the system, and of course the workload is likely to increase if you have more CPU available (people watch video fullscreen instead of windowed, games will generally render as fast as they can and use all available CPU, etc.).

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Far too little, far too late, I'm afraid.

      Two years ago, I'd be all behind this. Now, Intel and Microsoft have such a lead in the market, it's going to be a much harder market for ARM to enter.

    • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:02PM (#29442337) Homepage Journal

      Linux already made MS drop their price, allwing cheap windows netbooks because of linux. It's not out of the question that a really compelling ARM netbook would scare them into ARM support.

      And Microsoft would still lose. The only thing Windows really has going for it is the existing library of PC software. That's the network effect that keeps Windows out front, otherwise the market would have dumped Windows ages ago. Windows on ARM runs existing Windows x86 software about as well as Linux does: not at all.

      In fact, ARM netbooks running Windows might actually be at a disadvantage relative to Linux. People would see the Windows logo on the box and take it home, assuming that they could run PC-Windows software. When that software fails to load, the netbook gets returned to the store.

      Netbooks running Linux on an ARM processor with insanely long battery life and a true dedicated mobile operating system may be what it takes to get people to realize that netbooks were not intended to be merely smaller laptops.

  • That's like saying "Linux or even Ubuntu". :)

    Microsoft used to have a laptop/netbook-friendly Windows CE version back in the late '90s, but dumped it in favor of the "Tablet PC" build of Windows NT around 2000-2001. It would be interesting to see them bring that back.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's like saying "Linux or even Ubuntu". :)

      Microsoft used to have a laptop/netbook-friendly Windows CE version back in the late '90s, but dumped it in favor of the "Tablet PC" build of Windows NT around 2000-2001. It would be interesting to see them bring that back.

      They still do, the problem is it's shit and it won't run any off-the-shelf applications. It's used in a number of industrial PDAs, particularly ruggedized, intrinsically-safe ones.
      The way I see it, using CE on a laptop is far worse than Ubuntu because it looks like windows (95), behaves (mostly) like Windows, but won't run any Windows apps. In some ways it's the perfect combination - you get all the 'It-won't-run-Outlook/Oblivion/Photoshop' problems of Linux, all the 'It-won't-work-with-my-USB-doodad' pro

      • by argent (18001)

        They still do, the problem is it's shit and it won't run any off-the-shelf applications. It's used in a number of industrial PDAs, particularly ruggedized, intrinsically-safe ones.

        Is it? I haven't seen any devices using the Handheld PC user interface since around 2001. I'm not talking about the Pocket PC fork that Windows Mobile is based on and Symbol and others use in their PDA-form-factor devices. The Handheld PC fork required a larger screen and a keyboard, and disappeared when Microsoft decided that the

  • by Xocet_00 (635069) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:05PM (#29441339)
    What is involved in porting code to a new chip? I've done some programming in my life, but it has mostly been limited to personal interest and school projects. I imagine it can't be as simple as just recompiling. So what does it take to port code?What are the hurdles? Assume (accurately) that I'm a total noob.
    • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:11PM (#29441431)

      Let's say 30 years ago I gave you one end of an infinitely long piece of yarn and told you to start knitting a sweater. At first, it's not too bad. The yarn has a pretty standard consistency, although it sucks compared to some other yarn on the market. Then I start changing things up. Adding some knots and tangles in the yarn I hand to you. You do your best to accomodate and actually come up with a pretty nice sweater. Then you start re-designing the sweater to take advantage of the knots and tangles, and I just keep putting more and more complex knots in there since you seem to be doing great with the ones I've sent so far. Your sweater grows thick with piles of yarn and by the time 30 years rolls around, you've got yourself a pretty great sweater. Of course, you had some massive screwups like sweater ME and sweater Vista.

      Now let's say I ask you to knit the same sweater using a beautifully crafted roll of thread.

      I think you can see how hard that would be.

    • by bezenek (958723)

      What is involved in porting code to a new chip? I've done some programming in my life, but it has mostly been limited to personal interest and school projects. I imagine it can't be as simple as just recompiling. So what does it take to port code?What are the hurdles? Assume (accurately) that I'm a total noob.

      The main issue will be handling of virtual page tables in the OS. The code for x86 will not work for ARM.

      There will be some other issues with the boot sequence (BIOS), and of course the need to be able to drive the devices attached to the ARM, as some people have noted with respect to getting Linux to run on the ARM-based netbooks.

      I expect the code base for Windows has been hacked for so many years by so many different people that moving it to another architecture would not be as easy as it is for Li

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pikine (771084)

      It depends on how the original code is written. In a well-structured OS like Linux and NetBSD, they isolated the idiosyncrasies of the CPU and focused on using common high-level features across most CPUs (memory paging and interrupt handling among the chief of them), and can optionally adapt when a particular feature is not available on some architecture (e.g. high resolution timer, atomic instructions). In such case, porting to a new architecture just entails writing the assembly language glue that bridges

    • by ianare (1132971)

      It all depends on how close you're getting to the hardware, and to what extent you're using specific hardware features of a chip. In some cases it really is as simple as tweaking a few things and recompiling, if the software was designed to be portable. The original windows NT (from which 2000, XP, Vista, and 7 are all evolved from) was designed to be portable, in the early days it ran on RISC also.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:30PM (#29441755) Journal
      It is either a complete rewrite, a simple recompile, or something in the middle depending on how different the architectures are. In terms of programmer-visible features (ignoring things only visible to compiler and OS writers), ARM and x86 are very similar; same word size, almost identical alignment constraints, same byte order. If you wrote your program in a high-level language, it is just a recompile. If you used any assembly language, then you will need to rewrite it. If you used a language somewhere in the middle, like C, then it will probably be a straight recompile. This is unlike porting, for example, from x86 to SPARC64, where you suddenly have very strict alignment, opposite byte order, and different

      Of course, this is assuming the operating system interfaces are the same. If you're on something like OpenBSD, for example, then the OS does a good job of isolating the userspace code from having to know anything about the underlying architecture. Linux, on contrast, exposes a lot of architecture-specific details to programmers (and that's ignoring the fact that embedded Linux often ships with a non-GNU libc, which lacks a lot of features). Wince is about the worse at this, where every single device implements some subset of the Win32 APIs and so you end up having to do some tweaking for every device.

      • by anti-NAT (709310) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @05:01PM (#29446223) Homepage
        ility. It runs on more architectures than OpenBSD, and you're saying it's far less portable, and that the architectual differences are exposed? Way back in 2000 I ran (Debian) Linux on a Sun Ultra 5, and it just worked. The only issue I had was nmap, and that was likely due to a missing htonX() calls. OpenBSD wouldn't have magically put those instructions in the nmap code if they didn't exist either.

        I've written networking kernel code for Linux, and never encountered any CPU specific requirements - it's all abstracted behind function calls.

    • by psbrogna (611644)
      I've done a token amount of cross-platform work and will say that the recompiling your own code for a different target CPU is the "easy" part (relatively)- it's the retooling the code for different desktop widgets that can be a back-breaker. Cross-platform widget libraries exist but aren't always used, used well, or received well.
    • by AceJohnny (253840)

      In an ideal world, you just recompile your C code.

      In the real world, your code (indirectly) uses low-level libraries and system calls that only work on a given chip because they make use of specific hardware, either through assembly or through hardware-mapped structures.

      More rarely, some basic C operations don't work as expected. A common gotcha on previous ARM architectures were that all memory accesses had to be 32-bit aligned (it saved transistors and power). That meant that you couldn't use a char[] arr

    • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:08PM (#29442451)
      Porting Windows itself is almost irrelevant. The tens of thousands of apps in the Windows ecosystem still wouldn't work.
  • no windows? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uncreativeslashnick (1130315) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:06PM (#29441357)
    This won't end well. I have an ARM device (nokia n810) and it's great. But Wintel monopoly will kill this just like it did Sparc and IBM Power. I'm sure if it's as good as they claim it'll carve out a niche, but it won't directly compete in numbers or presence with intel CPUs.
    • Re:no windows? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:37PM (#29441877) Homepage
      I wouldn't be so sure about that. There are significantly more ARM devices out there than x86, Sparc, and Power combined.

      Phone like devices are getting larger and more powerful, and laptops/tablets are getting smaller and lower power. It is converging on a market space where ARM has no competition, and is exactly where the A9 would thrive. Microsoft is even entering the game with the Zune HD packing an Nvidia Tegra. This is not a low volume niche either. Think of the iPhone, Android devices, PSP, DS/DSi, Windows Mobile phones, etc.

      That is just on the mobile end too. It makes no sense to stick Windows Embedded and a Celeron in a router, network storage, or a printer when Linux/A9 is cheaper and as powerful.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        I wouldn't be so sure about that. There are significantly more ARM devices out there than x86, Sparc, and Power combined.

        This is not true. PowerPC is doing very well; it is in every current-generation console and most new cars. If you buy a BMW, you are getting something like 40 PowerPC chips for the various control functions. In automotive and industrial control applications, PowerPC is the dominant player. SPARC is doing less well, although it has, I believe, the highest market share once you leave the atmosphere (radiation-hardened SPARC chips are very popular on satellites, helped a lot by the fact that ESA funded the

    • by jabjoe (1042100)
      I think your wrong. It's different this time round. First the market is normal consumers, secondly, much of what people do now is on the web, so doesn't matter what platform you on (bar the whole Flash issue, but there is a ARM Flash). If it's cheap, has a long battery life, plays music and videos, some games, has a web browser so they can get on facebook, they will be more than happy. Windows big draw is it's software base, but that matters less and less as the free stuff is so good now, and so much is web
  • They have supported non-Intel before.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BlackSnake112 (912158)

      Actually, microsoft supported non intel before. Anyone remember the DEC Alpha chips? There was an NT flavor for that. It ran faster then the intel chips of the day.

      It would not surprise me that in an microsoft lab there was windows for power PC, windows for ARM, windows for . It would be in microsoft's best interests to have them.

    • Apple already ships a lot of ARM devices (iPhones, iPods). They bought PA Semi to begin designing their own chips, so it's unclear whether they will be shipping ARM-designed cores with their own extensions or ARM-compatible cores in future devices.
  • Will ARM compete? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheBilgeRat (1629569)
    Does ARM plan on integrated video along the lines of Nvidia and ION? http://www.nvidia.com/object/sff_ion.html [nvidia.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      No, but NVidia has gone ahead and integrated ARM [nvidia.com].

    • You realise that nVidia has licensed the ARM Cortex A9 core that TFA is about and is shipping chips based on it [nvidia.com], right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jesus_666 (702802)
      ARM doesn't do that as ARM doesn't make chips. They make chip designs, which they then license to other companies. Look at the TI OMAP series and you'll find that their chip comes with a built-in PowerVR GPU theoretically rated for DX 10.1 as well as a built-in DSP. Other manufacturers will most likely have similar offerings.

      Just to put things into perspective, the Pandora ships with an OMAP3530 and will have as one launch "title" a PlayStation emulator, which has already been demonstrated to run smoothly
  • I've only been running Linux on x86 hardware... so would Linux on ARM:

    a) Run a typical distro only recompiled or is a lot of software x86-specific?
    b) Run wine?
    c) Run virtualbox w/windows?
    d) Be able to use w32codecs so everything plays?

    I'm sure there's a few that's removed all traces of Windows, but I'm not one of them...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by queazocotal (915608)

      A) much simply needs recompiled, if it doesn't - with an app with the source - it's usually a bug.
      B) No - wine is simply a conversion layer between the windows and linux calls - the windows program is never emulated.
      C) No - again - not without emulation.
      D) I think you can probably guess this one - but again no.

      Emulation may be _lots_ slower than the host processor - slowdowns of ten times or more are not uncommon.

    • by ianare (1132971)

      a) Almost all of the open source stuff will run on ARM (GTK/Qt stuff, interpreted language apps, Firefox, etc).
      b) No, Wine Is Not (an) Emulator.
      c) No, because again you would need an emulator.
      d) Not the MS ones. OSS equivalents might.

    • a) Yeah, pretty much. Most desktop oriented distros only bother with x86/x86-64(though I think Ubuntu either has or is coming out with an ARM version); but with something like Debian running on ARM is pretty similar indeed. Obviously, less popular architectures get less attention; but the fundamentals are already well in place, and the introduction of ARM based netbooks would presumably increase attention pretty quickly.

      b) In principle it could; but there wouldn't be much point. Wine on ARM would allow y
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AlXtreme (223728)

      a) Run a typical distro only recompiled or is a lot of software x86-specific?

      It depends on the distro. Debian has a complete ARM-port, Ubuntu was working on one last time I checked. Maemo is an ARM-only distro.

      b) Run wine?

      Nope.

      c) Run virtualbox w/windows?

      Nope.

      d) Be able to use w32codecs so everything plays?

      Not likely (assuming these are binary blobs). Flash video, avi/mpeg's and various other formats shouldn't be a problem though.

      An ARM netbook wouldn't be someones only PC, just like current netbooks aren't

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pecisk (688001)

        With serious improvements within ffmpeg stack, w32codecs as mandatory package is already gone for some time. Most of newest netbook oriented distros (Moblin, Maemo, Ubuntu Netbook Remix) uses Gstreamer as multimedia engine, which has serious developers working for speeding up things for ARM platform. Also I bet ffmpeg guys already have been working on this.

    • by mpapet (761907)

      Most things actually.

      a) Run a typical distro only recompiled or is a lot of software x86-specific?
      Debian has an ARM version of their distro. From personal experience, I found everything to run an nslu2 server without exception. http://www.nslu2-linux.org/ [nslu2-linux.org] Very, very efficient platform. The nslu2 had no crypto coprocessor, so ssl stuff was slow, but still, the nslu2 was one of the most useful devices ever.
      b) Run wine?
      No. Wine isn't an emulator, so all of those x86 Windows compiled apps won't work.
      c) Run

    • a) Run a typical distro only recompiled or is a lot of software x86-specific?

      Some is, but most *NIX software is portable.

      b) Run wine?

      Maybe. There is a project that integrates WINE with QEMU, but I don't know its status. This would (in theory) run the app in QEMU, but every call to WINE stubs would be proxied to the native WINE libraries so code inside WINE would run the native versions (including things like DirectX). This would be fast enough for all but the most CPU-intensive Windows applications.

      c) Run virtualbox w/windows?

      No, VirtualBox is x86 virtualization software so obviously won't work on a non-x86 chip. You

  • netbooks are a great place to quietly slip in non-windows OS's that meet customer needs. the mobile phone/smart phone market has shown that customers aren't slavishly devoted to Windows. they will buy what works.

  • From the looks of the past five-seven years, the tea leaves seem to be saying that Microsoft's star is on the decline.
  • by kharris312002 (1593941) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:10PM (#29441415)
    This may be the first time I've ever heard it said that a processor doesn't support an OS... Usually it's the other way around.
    • by Locutus (9039) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:48PM (#29444071)
      in the Windows world, you'll hear that the processor runs on Windows all over the place. They've been trained that Windows is the end all, be all, and center of the universe so the concept of "it runs on Windows" is their world. Talk about a CPU and _it_ runs on Windows is the norm. They really don't know how to think about it without Windows at the center or in a hierarchy of the hardware->OS->applications. They can't imagine a world without Windows. Combine that with software people and marketing people with no clue of hardware and you get "processor X doesn't run on Windows"

      LoB
  • A call to ARMs! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MarkvW (1037596) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:18PM (#29441545)

    A Microsoft refusal to support a really cool netbook technology would be a good opening for Linux.

    • It'd be good for Linux users, as all the devices are sold cheap.

      Windows users will still pay the premium (in cost or power) to stick with what they know, unless this netbook is incredibly good. Apple is practically the definition of a polished product, they've fantastic brand awareness, they're commonly held to be superior, and they're still not really knocking Microsoft off their perch. I don't see why this is likely to make linux netbooks any more successful than the x86 ones have been.

  • real solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:29PM (#29441727)

    There are a lot of barriers to Windows adoption on the ARM processor that go beyond MS not really wanting it. If they really want to gain market share above and beyond cell phones and PDA's, ARM needs a strong partner to create a real, integrated, polished solution. And by solution I don't mean a device. They need to do something akin to the iPhone, in creating a nice device or set of devices with a consistent polished operating system and with an integrated ecosystem of solutions. The project is large in scope and they need a partner that preferably has an existing position to leverage, experience, money, and which is not beholden to Microsoft. A cell phone service company might be a viable partner or Canonical and someone, or RIM or Google or an appliance maker that has not entered the netbook market yet.

    If they really want to sell netbooks with ARM processors in them they have to think big. They need to better than hope MS is scared. They need to commit to building a system that bypasses MS's core monopolies through vertical integration. This is no small task. They need the hardware, which has to be cheap and hit a sweet spot. They need an OS and applications. They need dev tools for applications and services. They need Web and network services integrated with the device. More than all those pieces which are out there, they need someone to put it all together in a nice package and usability test the whole user experience from buying to opening the box right up through using it for all the common tasks: Web surfing, E-mail, chat, word processing, potentially phone calls and videophone, playing games, playing music and video, and adding new applications. The problem with a lot attempts at this sort of thing is the assumption that someone else will take care of parts or that blaming someone else somehow makes a failure better.

  • ooh (Score:3, Funny)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @12:31PM (#29441769) Homepage
    As a product of British manufacture, is it safe to assume it will spend most of its lifetime at the computer repair shop?
    • by oldhack (1037484)
      It's a really odd feeling to loot for a British tech company. A British tech company. That's so... unnatural.
  • Imagine a computer that does not run Windows. One that is not able to run Windows!
    I want one. Now. (I assume that it runs a full Linux distro of course).
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:10PM (#29442501) Homepage Journal

    If anyone ever starts a new CPU-related company, can you please call it LEG for the sake of "it cost an ARM and a LEG" jokes?

    Thank you.

  • by the_womble (580291) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:01PM (#29443269) Homepage Journal

    it doesn't support Windows.

    That's not a bug, its a feature.

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