Intel may be king of the hill when it comes to processors for desktops, laptops, servers, and pretty much any CPU for a computer that doesn’t fit in your pocket. But the vast majority of smartphones on the market today use chips based on designs from ARM. Intel plans to change that.
We’ve already seen evidence that Intel realizes power isn’t everything. The company has been pumping out low power Atom chips for netbooks for the past few years. But the Atom N450 chips found in most netbooks today are designed to power Windows-based laptops, not smartphones. They only offer nearly all-day battery life because these netbooks tend to come with batteries that are heavier than a typical phone.
So now Intel is pushing forward in the low power space with designs that are intended for use in tablets, smartphones, and other low power devices. Intel CTO Justin Rattner tells Reuters that the company’s current Moorestown chips are on par with ARM-based chips when it comes to standby power. He says the next set of chips will rival ARM chips on active power. And Rattner says the generation after that will pull ahead of ARM.
Of course, that might all depend on ARM staying still instead of continuing to innovate. Somehow I don’t think that will happen. On the other hand, Intel is kind of a big company with an awful lot of resources to throw at a problem. If Intel really wants to pull ahead of ARM in the low power chip space, something tells me the company might be able to pull it off. Just not right away.