updated 01:10 pm EDT, Thu October 23, 2008
ARM-based netbooks coming
New processors designed by ARM will soon find their way into netbooks, says the company's director of mobile solutions, Rob Coombs. ARM is more commonly associated with the low-power processors used in many smartphones, including Apple's iPhone. ARM is working on a successor to its ARM11 architecture, dubbed Cortex-A8, which Coombs notes should be fast enough for both smartphones and netbooks. Some individuals are "playing around with gigahertz speeds," Coombs claims.
Due in 2010 is Cortex-A9, a multicore variant of A8 which should also be more power-efficient due to the ability to execute multiple instructions at nominally slower speeds.
It is not known which companies may decide to build Cortex-based netbooks, but Coombs notes that some of ARM's clients include the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, NEC and Toshiba. Finished products would present a direct challenge to Intel, whose Atom processors are effectively built for netbooks and other mobile Internet devices (MIDs). A future version of the Atom may threaten ARM, through inclusion in smartphones. It is rumored that Apple may switch to Intel processors with successive iPhones.