I keep reading column after column about the Windows 8 strategy of "Intel and ARM, not Intel or ARM," as stated by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last week, and I'm convinced this is the logical progression that will take place. I also believe Intel has nothing to worry about in terms of being made irrelevant in mobile by Microsoft's embrace of ARM.
Granted, Intel would certainly love to have a foothold in the mobile side of Windows 8, but it's obvious Intel isn't ready to tackle the lower-power-usage ARM chips. It makes sense that Windows 8 tablets will mainly be ARM affairs that run just the Metro portion of Windows 8.
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But don't count Intel out of the mobile game altogether. There are several reasons not to.
First, if you're going off the premise that the billions of PC users in the enterprise will "toss their systems in the trash and replace them with tablets overnight, you're dreaming," as said by ZDnet's well-known blogger Ed Bott. Consider recent history with Windows XP: The enterprise didn't adopt Vista and is only now moving toward Windows 7. Windows 8 has much to compete with on the mobile front, and on the desktop, PCs running either Windows 7 or 8 will dominate for a long time to come. Perhaps in five -- or more -- years we will see the mobile world phase out the PC, but Intel still holds hundreds of millions of systems in its grasp and has the time to come up with a competitive processor to ARM's family (the Apple A5, Qualcomm Snapdragon, and Samsung Cortex-A9).
Second, Intel isn't sitting on its hands. It is working on reduced-power processors and this week debuted an experimental processor (code-named Claremont) with a near-threshold voltage processor. The processor ran a Linux PC (OK, it still needs some more juice to run Windows) with a solar cell the size of a postage stamp. A solar-powered near-threshold processor! It also demonstrated another project called the hybrid memory cube, an incredibly efficient memory interface.