Last month, chip maker ARM said that several of its upcoming CPUs could be used to power netbooks. Now it looks like the company is moving forward with that plan. Laptop Magazine reports that ARM has partnered with Canonical to develop a version of Ubuntu Linux that’s optimized for ARM processors.
While most netbooks today are powered by CPUs from Intel or VIA, ARM has a strong track record of producing low power chips for cellphones, PDAs, and handheld devices. They aren’t exactly speed demons, but they do deliver long battery life. ARM says its next generation processors will allow a netbook to run all day on a single charge. Of course, there’s no mention of what kind of battery it will take to make that happen, but it’s still a pretty bold claim.
Right now almost every major laptop maker has a netbook on the market sporting a VIA C7-M or Intel Atom processor. But the ARM-specific version of Ubuntu isn’t due out until April, 2009, so it’s unlikely we’ll see an actual netbook using the ARM chip until the middle of next year at the earliest, which gives the company plenty of time to convince a big name computer maker to sign on.
Of course, by then, it might not be a three way processor race between Intel, VIA, and ARM. AMD is expected to announce its plans for the netbook space tomorrow.
That’s six months, an awful long time for a distribution that mostly echos Debian.
Unless they intend to run/ship big-endian, the ARM big-endian support in Debian
is (or was) scheduled to be dropped. ARM little-endian is alive and well, second
only to x86 in usage. Note: All ARM cores will run either mode.
Note: The snapshot posted is of the Cortex A8, tool chain may not be
optimized for that core yet. That could take six months.
For a similar “Convenience Netbook” effort, watch the Liliputing forums.
Oops, forgot the forum link to the ARM Netbook thread:
Good guess, ARM Cortex support is still a work-in-progress for GCC.
eeh. Windows doesn’t run on ARM. Most Linux distributions are compiled primarily for x86, though the Debian ARM branch is regularly updated. Still, I think it sucks away a lot of the draw of a netbook to not be able to run off-the-shelf software.
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