The Convergence of Processors

For a long time, Intel has been the dominant source in CPUs, “challenged” only by AMD, with all other competitors brushed aside. Except, that is, for ARM. ARM, now a subsidiary of Softbank from Japan, has been so effective in the low wattage processor market that is has driven Intel from the playing field, with Chipzilla canceling its next generation of mobile (2 watt)chips. Unfortunately for Intel, that space is entirely the growth market of the CPU industry, with billions more ARM chips sold per annum than Intel designs. And the oncoming wearables and IoT market also pull entirely from the ARM design space, and not Intel’s.

And now Apple, one of Intel’s largest customers, has just launched a powerful four core mobile chip, one that theoretically (benchmarks are synthetic, different operating systems, etc.) equals the single-threaded performance of 2013 desktop chips. That chip is fast enough, and in the right target market, to replace the Core M (now rebranded to Core i5 and i7 again, because screw consistency) chips that Chipzilla has been touting as it’s best in the under 5 watt space. Otherwise known as the chips in the MacBook.

Except for the fact that these new Apple chips (called the A10), can’t run MacOS because they’re a different type of chip. Will the legacy software of MacOS and Windows (and perhaps most importantly, the server market) save Intel over the long haul? Or will ARM’s bottom up strategy continue to push them into a smaller and smaller corner of the connected world?

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