[FoRK] Fwd: Microsoft Posts First Quarterly Loss Ever [lost decades]

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri Jul 20 01:37:08 PDT 2012

On Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 07:32:46PM -0700, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
> X86 won't necessarily go away.  Outside of NVidia, it's the fastest thing 
> out there if you don't care about power, heat, or cost.  While it is a 
> complicated, messy mess, it works well now and has many tricks that are 
> not found elsewhere.

IIRC until recently a dual-core ARM was equivalent to a single
core Atom (which is about Pentium III). With recent advances they're
probably roughly equivalent. Centerton is supposed to match 
ARM in terms of OPS/Watt; we shall see. Intel is chronically loath
to cannibalize their own servers (witness conspicuous absence
of ECC with Atom which dooms servers), meanwhile Seamicro-like
systems are moving in from the side of Dell and HP and potentially
AMD as well.

> On the other hand, ARM and associated GPU cores are evolving quickly and 
> have vastly lower power usage.  Atom is interesting, and Intel has 

Not necessarily true anymore. It's interesting what will happen
to MIPS, as it can be potentially better than ARM in OPS/Watt department.

> invested in some other technology, but the ARM related vendors have a 
> pretty good head start.  If they figure out the processor tricks that 
> make x86 so fast, and it can be done in a low power mass market mobile 

The UI is rendered mostly by GPU, and if OpenCL succeeds not just 
the UI. However, OpenCL looks extremely static.

> chip, Intel is in a little trouble.  Still a horse race and one that no 
> one cares too much about.  Android already supports many different CPU 
> architectures at the same time in shipping executables, so it's a 
> non-issue of any significance.  Already you can make an Android app that 
> uses several ARM versions and x86 and ship it now.  Android x86 was in 
> limbo for a while, but now is, I understand, fully supported with ICS on  
> Google TV devices.

I don't see a reason for Android on x86. Existing devices are fast
enough. In absence of AMD Intel is not going to be able to maintain
the lead, at least in terms of price/performance. Ultrabooks seem
pretty dead, if AMD doesn't deliver on their lower price point a
Linux derivate (Android or Chrome or something else) is likely
to move in there.

Intel might well pull a Microsoft, unless they're starting to
kick their own ass. 

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