Story: Intel Is Dead on the Desktop, Says ARM Co-FounderTotal Replies: 46
Author Content

Nov 26, 2010
5:47 AM EDT
The desktop is dead? I say poppycock! Mobile devices are a class on their own. Easy for light tasks on the go or on the couch. They will never reach the power, versatility and usability of the desktop PC for heavy tasks, without making big consessions to their vaunted mobility. Not even the cloud will make this happen.

Can you imagine doing a video transcode of a homemade 4 GB video file on a tablet device, while uploading the file via TCP/IP to a transcoding service and then downloading the file again to burn it on an optical disk, for which you have to lug around an optical drive with your Arm powered Android tablet? I can't. Some things simply don't live on the Internet and some things are best done locally.

The death of Intel is highly exaggerated. While Arm was very succesfull in spreading Arm as the mobile platform by licensing their designs, they will have their work cut out for them to scale up their performace while still retaining their small die size and low power consumption. My HTC Hero Phone was fairly power efficient, but the processor was underpowered and made Android laggy. I now have the HTC Desire and the more powerful processor makes Android snappy, but I keep running to a wall socket to recharge.

Chip engineering powerhouse Intel in the meantime is very busy scaling down X86(_64) to lower die size and less power consumption, while retaining a lot of oomph in the performance department. Intel has mastered the seperation of the ISA from the underlying chip architecture. Arm shouldn't become complacent,lest they are overrun by power efficient X86 Atom phones, netbooks and tablets in a few years.

Intel, Microsoft and the desktop PC might not be as trendy and hot as they were, but buzz items like The Cloud and Mobile Computing won't kill them. We still have mainframes after all.

Nov 26, 2010
11:24 AM EDT
You're definitely uninformed, hence your outdated views.

First, what's the need for uploading / transcoding if there's hardware acceleration for such operations _in_ the SoC? BTW: Intel CPU's don't have hardware acceleration to perform such tasks! So why use current days Intel desktops which aren't even _designed_ for such tasks if better SoC's (which can do hardware-transcoding) are available? Moreover, currently the ARM-chips can do photo editing as well. Probably less than 1% of the PC-users ever transcode video, so why bother anyway?

Second: Microsoft is a NuFront partner. NuFront is the company which launched the 2gHz dualcore ARM SoC, the quadcore is to follow in March. It's aimed (amongst others) at desktops! MS recently bought an ARM architecture license. NuFront says they're waiting on something "more powerful than WinCE" to come from Microsoft, and to install on their $200 PC's Adding up the numbers is easy: 7+1 is 8 just like it always was, so Windows 8 will run on Windows .

Third: Not only NuFront is doing chipdesigns for desktops, Marvell is also doing triple-core 1.6gHz chips, which might also be aimed at the desktop. Lots of others are probably to follow. there's a lot more competition than in the x86-world. ARM encourages competition, instead of illegally forbidding it as Intel did! Both the Marvell and the NuFront solution are _far_ cheaper than Intel solutions. Let's say Windows will run on ARM, then we'll probably see the return of the Windows marketplace someday. If you don't know 'marketplace': Think "Windows Appstore". Given such a scenario, what's the need for Intel-chips anyway? Given today's focus at decreasing energy consumption, I think low-power solutions may become popular.

Fourth: Intel margins will suffer, so their R&D expenses will decline in the future. At this moment, they're not even capable of delivering a SoC without help from other companies, so they lack the capabilities / personnel to perform such tasks. Then why believe they're going to beat the vested SoC companies?

After all: the share of people who really need a general purpose computer at home is probably less than 2%. It's a niche market! Several decades of real life experience has shown 'general purpose' computers are too difficult for most (potential) users to grasp. Remember, the majority of the people don't know what a browser is! It's only for a lack of a better alternative people have kept up with such user unfriendly machines. Sure, Intel will fill the 2% niche, but I certainly agree at the moment they're doing too little too late, and if they don't change rapidly they have a real problem. The Intel - Microsoft marriage has been over for several years now, another thing to remember.

Let's face it: Most people run Windows, and if Microsofts' OEM-partners are going to sell ARM-pc's and bundle Windows with it, and if it ends up being cheaper than Intel-solutions while meeting the need of the consumers, it's game over for Intel in the consumer market.

The whole scenario does rely on Microsoft however, and their ability to deliver a decent Windows on ARM. Maybe Google ChromeOS, I can't tell yet. But change there will be!

Yes, Intel will still be making CPU's for consumers and companies who need number crunching (or think they do), just like Cray does. But all people who don't have such needs (the majority) will experience there's a cheaper alternative which performs just as well for consuming content, if not even better.

Nov 26, 2010
2:53 PM EDT
I would be very happy to run an ARM-powered computer.

Nov 26, 2010
5:56 PM EDT

I totally disagree... More people transcode than you think, ripping movies for multimedia systems, mobile players, etc. Using mobile processors always means compromising something. Most people need a general purpose machine for business apps & other purposes. If you've ever tried editing a large document, think how well that would work on a mobile. Mobiles will proliferate, even intruding on the desktop's market, but the won't replace the need for intensive processing.

Plus, you can't upgrade a mobile in any meaningful way. You also can't customise them for any particular use, very well. Many people add cards, etc to their systems. Many times you cannot find dedicated machines that do what you want. Uprading PCs is the "junk car" hobby of the 21st century.

Nov 26, 2010
7:00 PM EDT
Quoting:Using mobile processors always means compromising something.

That's where all people with 'rusted minds' seem to fail. Read the above message again: it clearly states dual/quad core ARM-processors will find their way into desktops! Why not watch before commenting:

However, it seems I live three years in the future while other people live 'now', which will probably explain our differences in viewpoint. I think I pretty much agree to r_a_trip given the ARM-SoC's which entered the market about a year ago. But things are really going to change, I believe.

Look at the MiniPC NuFront presented: Why would you upgrade it if the whole thing is below $200? The motherboard is almost empty, the SoC is around $30. Case is mostly empty as well. And again, probably only around 2% of the people upgrade PC's (let's include laptops) anyway. Almost nobody upgrades a laptop because it's not possible, and still laptops are sold more than desktops.

If you really want to, you can probably upgrade the mobo+SoC combination in the miniPC showed, but again, you belong to a small minority! Probably, when such a miniPC will be released, it will run ChromeOS or Windows 8.

So, stop focusing on "I can't do X on my mobile / tablet" because the time ARM was only about mobile computing is behind us now!

And about the 2% of people which do transcoding: I'm pretty sure if I go on the street and ask 50 people who say "they're using a computer" if they ever transcoded something, about 1 might say he / she did. If you totally disagree, why not go out to the mall, ask 50 people, shoot a vid (and transcode it) and share it with us! People have done this for "do you know what a browser is" (you'll find them on Youtube, some are in 'exotic languages' like Slovenian though).

Flash clearly shows Adobe thinks ARM is important, so I'm pretty sure some Adobe graphics products might eventually end up on ARM as well.

And business apps are for business (which I already said Intel will keep providing for), not for home users who want to consume media!

Nov 27, 2010
1:10 AM EDT
If you asked them if they ever "transcoded," I'm sure you would get that reaction. But if you asked them if they ever "ripped" a movie or DVD, you'd get a different response.

And home users ARE business users, for the most part. The major difference is what machines they are using and what time of day. Most people (in decent jobs) do some office related work on their home computers, on personal time.

I'm not saying that ARM processors aren't going to get better. I'm just saying that ARM won't be able to catch up to Intel's (or AMD's) lead in desktop workstation processors. High end Atom processors will take the desktop before ARM will.

But mobiles??? I'm typing this on a 7" Android tablet with a Cortex 8 processor. ARM will reign on the low end there. But, People won't forego their desktop machines for mobiles, they'll just spend more of their free time on their mobile devices. When they need to get real work done, they'll go to the desktop/Intel macine to do it. Plus, more people will transcode since all players will support diferent codecs, and not all the devices will support the same ones.

Nov 27, 2010
3:30 AM EDT
Transcoding is a non-issue. It happens (preferably) on the GPU which has chips for jus such a task.

Nov 27, 2010
5:22 AM EDT
Think we're passed the DVD / CD era now, so ripping is not an issue anymore. My DVD-station hasn't been connected for the last three years, and I'm not missing it. Maybe sometimes when Linux distro's screwed up USB booting, but we're also past the era of non-working USB images I can tell from my own experience.

Furthermore, why hassle with h.264 'transcoding' on Linux if "there's a core for that"? For example, Marvell Armada has a separate core (it's not even on the GPU BTW) for "H.264, MPEG-4, MPEG-2, VC-1 and additional video codecs implemented by the VMeta subsystem".

This way, all license issues are solved once and for all, it's hardware accelerated and it's probably way faster than anything you throw at a "general purpose" CPU like an Atom! So, compared to this, if transcoding is an issue for you, then (from a technical point of view) Atom is low-end, not high-end! Only thing I have to admit is, it doesn't enable for future codecs.

Office related work can probably be done using something like NoMachine's NXPlayer. Factory workers don't work at home anyway, and in countries like China, in the cities they're a majority.

It encourages me some people believe in Atom, which means even less sales for iCore's. See point 4 above, Intel won't be happy! Atom isn't that high end at all I'd say, it doesn't offer specialized chips like the competition does. Moreover, it's expensive, and if you're going to spend money because performance is an issue then why not buy an iCore i3 in first place?

It largely depends on OEM's and software-makers though. We saw some succesfull shifts in CPU-architecture recently, and the creation of some entire new stacks / sdk's / application shops for ARM, so technically speaking it's possible.

Even if the Atom is too little, too late (and without the manufacturer actually wanting to manufacture it in first place because it evaporates their margins), players like Google (TV) can make or brake Atom sales.

Nov 27, 2010
7:50 AM EDT
If ARM is to succeed on the desktop, it needs two things that haven't happened yet (that I see): faster CPU clock speed, and greater parallelism.

Faster clocks, well yeah. Multipliers are easy enough.

But multi-core ARM CPU should be easy enough, too. If AMD and Sparc can do it, why not ARM? The same die size can hold far more ARM cores than any current Intel PC core. Think about a kernel build. On a dual-core AMD:

# make -j3 bzImage modules

Now think about a 6-core or 8-core ARM:

# make -j7 bzImage modules (or:) # make -j9 bzImage modules

Any bets on which CPU will finish the build first?

In the short term, this may even be easier and more beneficial than faster clock speed.

Nov 27, 2010
7:57 AM EDT
NuFront announced the 2gHz quadcore for March '11, I think that's about the limit for the Cortex A9-design.

The problem is, more cores bring more overhead, and then the ARM would end up being just as complex as the Intel multi-core designs.

If you're interested though and have 2 minutes to spare, I suggest watching this vid;

showing how well an ordinary task such as "browsing" scales from one to two Cortex-cores.

In my opinion, the willingness of software / hardware manufacturers to choose for ARM or not, is more important than the exact technical capabilities at the moment. But again, who am I, just a single "techwatcher" 's opinion.

Nov 27, 2010
1:21 PM EDT
If performance is acceptable but battery life is amazing, that will be enough.

Nov 29, 2010
6:36 AM EDT
NuFront announced the 2gHz quadcore for March '11, I think that's about the limit for the Cortex A9-design.

If these processors perform as well or better as the Pentium III series processors from Intel and still be highly power efficient, then it could be a winning ARM design. Although (judging by current standards) I wouldn't call 2GHz quadcore processors mobile processors anymore.

Once you scale up the devices into machines with a large keybord, mouse(pad) and large screen, you're effectively back into desktop territory. Which is why I don't believe all the doom saying about the desktop. While less sexy and certainly a lot less status symbol than the new crop of portable gizmo's, the stationary device, where you quickly pop behind to do some stuf, at home will stick around.

Let's say Windows will run on ARM, then we'll probably see the return of the Windows marketplace someday. If you don't know 'marketplace': Think "Windows Appstore". Given such a scenario, what's the need for Intel-chips anyway? Given today's focus at decreasing energy consumption, I think low-power solutions may become popular.

About the above... This is good how? Intel may be an aggressive Chip Ogre, but their processor and chipset designs never poisened the market with proprietary extensions to protocols or proprietary file formats and filesystems. Wishing for Microsoft to succeed on ARM just to get rid of Intel seems counter productive. Intel is not out to destroy Linux (they even develop it). Microsft however wants to have their OS be the sole option.

Windows marketplace... Isn't that the store where 2500 paid apps waited to be purchased, while tumbleweed blowed freely across that wasteland? SCNR.

P.S. I'm not against competiton in the market place. On the X86 scene, I almost always opt for AMD. AMD keeps Intel on their toes and the price/performance ratio with AMD is excellent.

Nov 29, 2010
12:06 PM EDT
from hkwint > "Think we're passed the DVD / CD era now, so ripping is not an issue anymore. My DVD-station hasn't been connected for the last three years, and I'm not missing it. Maybe sometimes when Linux distro's screwed up USB booting, but we're also past the era of non-working USB images I can tell from my own experience."

YOU may be past it, but being past it means giving up personally maintained copies of media, relying instead on streamed content or pirated stuff in the alternative. While I like Hulu (not impressed with Netflix), I wouldn't rely on them to supply me with my favorite movies or old TV shows. I won't even go into music. My tastes can mostly be found in the discount rack, in "Greatest Hits" compilations. I don't think I'm alone there. And pirated stuff is a non-starter for me. It's both morally wrong & too much risk. I have no desire to be a RIAA or MPAA example case.

I see these new web enabled TVs & set-top boxes as mainly just another vendor stream for content. It may replace cable & possibly even broadcast TV. But I don't see it replacing personal media collections. SOCs with built in transcoding play to these streaming services, but not to existing collections.

However, I'm not about to shell out more $$$ every time a new SOC w/ built-in codecs is required. Plus, what happens when an old machine breaks & everyone has switched to a new codec (old codecs no longer available for accelerated hardware on the market)? Also, your comment about licensing & hardware codec support aren't true. A license to use the media codec is not necessarily granted when purchasing the hardware. It's mostly implied, but as anyone who has looked for Linux drivers for an SOC ARM chip with multimedia codec support or even 3D acceleration for a GMA500 can tell you, it's not always a sure thing.

My sister just dropped $1400 for a web enabled TV. I spent about $400 per TV to add an HTPC to each TV, X86 based. When her manufacturer or the content providers no longer support her TV, she's SOL with her TV's extra capabilities. And with that TV's LCD/LED screen, it ought to last 14+ years, longer than most content provider deals. My system is component-ized & upgradeable. It's made infinitely so because of the X86 tech behind it. So when a streaming service changes, I can simply download a new codec or player & change over. If a new device is required, I can add it on the server end with minimal sticker shock.

You simply can't say that desktop x86 architecture is dead. It's certainly being displaced, but mostly in areas it failed to capture initially. Most of your point is that ARM isn't your daddy's cell phone tech anymore, & that x86 is trying to muscle in on that market space. There I agree with you. But to say that the two architectures' blurring roles means death for x86 desktops? Not by a long shot. I'd say it more likely that they would both be subordinated based on the new Gallium Arsenide CPU/RAM tech that very well might mean a move to neuro-net processing over traditional RISC or CISC computing, or at least some hybrid of two of the three. But then, Linux would pretty much be out of the picture, replaced by something radically different, or marginalized as part of the house-keeping stack, wouldn't it???

Nov 29, 2010
7:48 PM EDT
R.A.Trip: Indeed, the desktop isn't dead, but Intel on the desktop faces heavy competition. That's what I tried to stress, because I agree mobile devices can't replace everything. They're pretty much worthless for creating content, and I agree many people have/ want to create content.

I don't think it's inherently good or bad Intel / Microsoft / ARM are going to 'win' or 'lose' the desktop BTW. OK, both Microsoft and Intel received record fines because of anti-competitive behaviour, so I'm not sad if they lose market share and I think competition is a good thing.

However, let me stress, I don't see Windows on ARM (or most of the other developments I described above) as being good, or bad. I'm just following the developments like many other people do, and trying to describe what I think will happen. Probably, like most predictions, I'm way off. But making an educated guess about the near future is fun in my opinion, so there's the reason for my comments.

When looking at "x86 competition", once I was a very big fan of VIA. Mainly because they launched low power designs. However, their Nano-line - which I thought would turn out to be very popular and real competition to Intel - just didnt' take of. It's almost forgotten now. In my opinion, this proves two things (which I failed to understand back then):

1) x86 competition fails, and it doesn't lead to better products to the amount ARM-competition does, 2) low power Intel-alternatives will only reach customers if there's OEM demand.

The second seems to be true for ARM Cortex designs at this point.

JaseP: I do agree on the media/content thing. I should elaborate: DVD / CD isn't needed for 'software' anymore. You can boot / install operating systems without them nowadays. Indeed, alternatives for DVD/CD's for music / movies are becoming better, but you still might need them. If I want music / movies, I watch TV or listen radio, and indeed, I rely on my "pirated" collection (which BTW is legal in this country, though I agree it's morally wrong).

About the GMA500: It's a particular 'epic fail' of Imagination Technologies. Right now, they have a very bad record on supporting Linux, amounting to "no support at all". Linaro ought to solve these issues though, and I believe they will. It seems 'big business' (we're talking TI, IBM, FreeScale, Canonical and Samsung here - which includes the global top 2 USPTO-filers) is determined to solve these issues, and the first deliverable was ready a few weeks ago.

I steer away clear from any set top boxes, since they're a PITA to administer. That's why I'm still on analog cable TV. Works like a charm, no "16 remotes", incompatible proprietary decryption cards and such headaches. When the manufacturers have sorted out these issues and made a user friendly reliable system, I'll think again. As long as the upgrading / codec-changing behaviour and the lack of standards for internet-content via TV continues, I'm pretty sure lots of consumers will refuse to use these products, just like me.

And of course x86 architecture isn't dead, but that's mostly because of 'momentum', legacy backwards compability stuff etc. Very much the same like Microsoft Windows. Let's say, an ecosystem wasn't in place yet, both for MS Windows or x86 / ARM, and you'd have to choose nowadays (so no lock-in yet), then you certainly wouldn't choose Windows. If the year was 2013 and you didn't need number crunching, you wouldn't choose Intel as well.

So the question should be about the future. Look at the difference between Apple and Microsoft: If Microsoft announces something, people aren't excited and will not spend much attention at it. Mayor example would be the launch of Windows Phone 7 recently: For Microsoft, this is huge, but the press didn't care that much. That's why I'd say Windows is pretty much dead (basically thinking in the 2nd derivative here): it still owns the desktop but it isn't innovative / competitive anymore. People take it for granted.

The same can be said for Intel: Which new exciting things did they announce past 12 moths? I can't think of any. For ARM though, the development happens much quicker, and there's much more to be excited about.

Nov 30, 2010
5:28 AM EDT
The same can be said for Intel: Which new exciting things did they announce past 12 mo[n]ths? I can't think of any.

Intel? wouldn't know either. Maybe their underpowered Sandy Bridge platform?

I must say I'm curious about AMD's Bobcat architecture.

Wikipedia: Bobcat will support out-of-order execution, advanced branch predictor, dual x86 instruction decoder, 64-bit integer unit with two ALUs, floating point unit with two 64-bit pipes, 32KB instruction cache, 32KB data cache, and half clock speed 512KB L2 cache.

Bobcat will also support modern SIMD extensions like SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4A, but no 3DNow or AVX. [3]

The Bobcat core will be incorporated together with GPU cores into processors under the "Fusion" brand.

If they can keep the TDP between 1 and 10 Watt (as promised), this could be a fun processor for small, efficient nettops, tablets, etc.

Still not as efficient as ARM (NuFront's dual core has a TDP of 2 Watts), I'll give you that, but the capabilities per Watt for the Bobcat are impressive nevertheless.

Nov 30, 2010
10:45 AM EDT

I think we agree on more than we disagree on. However, I think you "over-conclude" that the landscape will change radically, & (relatively) soon.

You mention the present market share in terms of inertia. And, you also pose a thought experiment where the playing field is level. But that is just a tad disingenuous. The playing field is NOT level. The Intel architecture dominates on the desktop. And even AMD cross-licenses tech with Intel (the agreements go both ways). ARM dominates in the mobile & embedded spheres. Peripherals & support infrastructure exist around both. Both computing environments, desktop & mobile, are needed. That's a heck of a lot of inertia to overcome.

Hardware inertia is arguably more difficult to overcome than software. Hardware changes mean spending more capital, in a bad economy. Linux, luckily, scales well on both platforms (& others too). That's an ace-in-the-hole for OSS.

Nov 30, 2010
11:28 AM EDT

AMD claims they can make a Bobcat draw 250mw. That might open a few doors.

Otherwise, this whole thread reminds me of "Intel is dead" ten or fifteen years ago, when RISC was going to take over the world and X86 would just be a clunky memory.

Nov 30, 2010
12:46 PM EDT
RA Trip: I'm running an AMD 'e' processor currently (4850), and since I do roughly 1Gb of compiling per month, I think the Bobcat may be interesting for me. For people like most LXer visitors (including you and me), a platform solely aimed at 'consuming content' is not an option. Hence, I look forward to Bobcat!

Lots of people just buy what's in stores though. Which is whatever Microsoft and it's OEM-partners are "pulling". Ever since Intel became serious about Linux, I think Microsoft doesn't mind pushing other sillicon-brands.

On the other hand, psycho-research has showed people want devices with 'elaborate functions', even if they're unable to use said functions, because they think they'll look dumb when using "dumbed down" devises / interfaces.

Those seems to be two forces, and I'm not sure how to calculate net effect.

JaseP: A mountain of a thousand dead horses has a lot of inertia too. Even adding lots of new dead horses and hooking them up to a defibrillator won't revive anything, the mountain as a whole is still dead!

So, it's how you define "being dead". You can say "dead" is being bankrupt. In my opinion however, "dead" is if tech press / tech enthusiasts stop being interested in your products. Usually, the second form is a forebode of the first, but not necessarily. As told, I think in second derivatives, so if "press interest" in Intel is declining and they'll suffer from margin compression exactly in the same way as Apple will in 2011! Intel will have a problem regarding their shareholders. Intel suffers from the very same problem as Microsoft does: Focusing on 'high performance' / high margin comprehensive products, while the market demands cheap "just good enough" products.

However, on the other hand I agree Intel is a living company, and they're working hard to keep up with the ARM-integrators. They'll introduce new low-power platforms. However, they seriously need to adapt their business model (currently focused at "high performance"), and a paradigm shift may be needed on their part too. Because otherwise they'll end up like Microsoft: Being the dominant market player, but not bringing much innovation, about nobody liking them and being enthusiast about them, and "other markets" pre-empting their sales in the same way as the iPad is pre-empting desktop sales.

Windows 7 phone though, shows companies can change, and even while people like me assume those companies are dead, they can hire enough brains / creativity to amaze people again.

Nov 30, 2010
1:24 PM EDT

Ok, so you are talking more "social relevance" than you are about economics/market share. There you have a point (I would have to concede that, anyway since I'm typing this on my Nokia N900, an ARM based device).

However, you reply to RA Trip about people not liking "dumbed-down" interfaces, and later praise WinPhone7. That seems like a non-sequitor. I thought the whole point of WinPhone7 was its simplistic "tiled" interface, kind of like a "you can do that, me too" interface for those not as smart as their smarphone. It strkes me as a day late and a dollar short from M$.

Dec 01, 2010
2:47 PM EDT
JaseP: Indeed, that's the paradox we're witnessing.

The survey I heard about is years old, and predates dumbed-down iThings. It predates Philips experiment to send management home with actual Philips devices during the weeekend, and next monday finding out Philips' _very own_ managers were not able to configure / install the Philips devices.

Probably it's all in the marketing: Nowadays you're not considered stupid anymore if you're using an iPad. Think "Sense and Simplicity": Some bright brains decided simplicity should be associated with 'sense' and paid several 100's of millions to convince consumers of it too. Moreover, there's a general trend to dumbing things down (think Ubuntu, Gnome, Dolphin, Android, Windows Phone 7 etc.), so I don't know where 'society' and 'human nature' is currently. Somewhere in between, transitioning, I suggest.


Dec 02, 2010
8:11 AM EDT

Do you remember when the Mac was dead? For that matter, Apple itself?

Dec 03, 2010
1:14 PM EDT
Quoting:Do you remember when the Mac was dead?

No. I don't care about Mac nor Apple, unless their company screws society by means of citizin-unfriendly laws pushed by BSA. Beyond, I was too young and not interested in computers at all back then (I dont even know when it was anyway). Beyond, it's silly to remember something which wasn't there, like Mac's market share at that moment. It's like asking: "Do you remember the time when there wasn't $100 billion on your bank account?"

Even more, I'm pretty sure if we look at a global scale Mac still is pretty dead. The same thing which is happening to Apple is happening to Intel too: There are cheap alternatives to their high margin products, and therefore they're loosing market share and will suffer from margin compression in 2011. They're both focusing on bubble-economies which are bursting as I type anyway. When the burst is over, most consumers will have no interest in their expensive offerings.

So, they'd better shift focus.

Dec 03, 2010
3:01 PM EDT
Quoting: In my opinion however, "dead" is if tech press / tech enthusiasts stop being interested in your products.

I've seen an awful lot of web developers toting Macs.'s hard to say that Macs have no enthusiast interest. They have something like 10% of the market in the US, and interest is growing, not declining.

At any rate, they are "dead" like Mercedes is dead: low market share, but not because peopel don't want 'em.

Dec 03, 2010
5:21 PM EDT
Again, 10% market share in US is _peanuts_., because most people simply don't live there. It's not where wealth is produced, it's where it is consumed. For further info regarding monopoly-money I kindly refer to Bob Robertson, who will be happy to explain 'fiat money' and the proven failure of QE to you.

Dec 03, 2010
7:01 PM EDT
I think the thing with Apple is that they have maybe 10 percent, maybe less, but it's the top 10 percent - the most expensive and profitable systems. In the $1,000+ market, they probably have more than 50 percent. Anybody have any real numbers on this?

Dec 03, 2010
7:03 PM EDT
Steve -- yup. They are the machines people want, then settle for Windows because they're cheaper.

Was it a year or so ago that Microsoft ran a series of ads about the computers people could buy for a certain amount of money? Seems people always looked at Macs first, then went to Windows machines because they could get "more" for their money.

Dec 03, 2010
7:13 PM EDT
We've got a bunch of dual-CPU G5s in this shop, and while they look great, they're dogs. Just about any Intel-based machine can walk all over them. Yeah, I know that Mac now has Intel, but Apple most of the time offers way worse specs for way more money than you can get from most other makers of hardware.

They usually have a high-end Mac Pro for $5000+ that looks pretty good, but in the $1000-$2000 range they really kill you with older bits in those iMacs and Macbooks.

Dec 04, 2010
12:26 AM EDT
Steve --

No question that Macs are not bang-for-the-buck machines in some cycles and space sense, but --

I remember the venerable IBM AS/400. Terrible deal in terms of processing power, but a cockroach of a system. IBM tried killing those puppies off for years, but customers kept buying them because they worked and they never died.

Dec 04, 2010
12:28 AM EDT
Quoting:Apple most of the time offers way worse specs for way more money than you can get from most other makers of hardware.

Happy to hear there's still a difference between Apple / Intel!

If lots of people are short on money, old computers still fill the needs of most people, and if not, cheap computers will, I doubt if the market for $1000+ computers will continue to exist. Of course, in Russia, Dubai & Abu Dabi it will for some time to come, that's for sure.

Though - coming to think of it - Russia is pushing open source & free software in schools, so I'm not sure if children used to Linux etc. will ever be happy with a Mac. Even if their great-uncle who 'inherited' Gazprom (or such a company) buys them the most expensive for christmas (7 January I guess?).

Intel understood it though, and they started co-operating on low margin SoC's and also started to develop 'lower cost operating systems', like Linux for rural China and Meego. AMD is joining with their APU's (which are SoC's with very limited capabilities IMNSHO), and via Telechips I believe VIA is joining also. However, this is bad news to iCore7, Xeon and the rest of the high-marginproduct lines of Intel.

So, probably I should have stated the 'high margin branch' of Intel is dead, not Intel itself.

Phew, took me a lot of time to figure! On the other hand, if you 'disregard' the "high margin products" of Microsoft (to take a not so random example), all that's left is a rather chaotic mess of products which wouldn't exist without the high-margin products; Microsoft very much _is_ the high margin products.

Back to low margin sales though. The only thing I'm curious about, is if Apple will follow suit one day. I'm not sure who the shareholders of Apple currently are, but if I were one, I would be afraid of the low margin Android products already eating away Apple's lunch; even today!

Dec 04, 2010
7:00 AM EDT
Hans -

Don't know. Macs are pretty sweet machines.

I know that I pulled a few hairs out last year when I had to administer a Mac server for a while -- they have, for example, their own Apple-bred startup approach -- but they are, fundamentally, decent Unix boxes with a very nice and slick front end and good software for artistic types.

And they look good.

There will always be people ready to pay a premium for a premium product.

A Hyundai Genesis is a great car, but people still buy BMWs and Mercedeses.


Dec 04, 2010
9:54 AM EDT
Quoting:I remember the venerable IBM AS/400. Terrible deal in terms of processing power, but a cockroach of a system. IBM tried killing those puppies off for years, but customers kept buying them because they worked and they never died.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we can now, officially, retire the "if computers were like cars" simile.

Dec 06, 2010
4:00 PM EDT
You're not pulling out the old "if cars were like computers, they'd cost $100 & go 900 mph" simile, are you??? Please no...

Dec 06, 2010
8:40 PM EDT
If more of us were hard-core gamers and had liquid-cooled rigs, cars would be more like computers (especially because I blew out a thermostat housing and thermostat and leaked coolant for weeks until I parted with $400).

Dec 06, 2010
10:11 PM EDT
I prefer Poppycock, that tasty conglomeration of popcorn, nuts, and sweet coating.

Dec 07, 2010
5:26 AM EDT
Quoting:We've got a bunch of dual-CPU G5s in this shop, and while they look great, they're dogs. Just about any Intel-based machine can walk all over them
A few years ago my brother (who worked in a mac shop) brought me some broken G4's. I managed to fix the broken power suplies (apple like to use its own plugs and such), and started to use the desktop as my main desktop. I loved it, it was fast and quick, did everything I needed, didn't get viruses. It had a 786mhz G4 processor, and still worked like a charm. The computers I used before that were Windows PC's with pentiums with speeds over 2,6 Ghz. And the G4 mac was better in all sorts of things. So, I wouldn't say that G4's (or G5') were (are) that bad.

But after this I discovered that Linux was also great on the desktop (I was modifying emebed devices that ran Linux, and never even thought that Linux was capable of being a good desktop OS), and then I stoped using the Mac.

Dec 22, 2010
9:38 AM EDT
I was right, for a change!

See "Microsoft Is Said to Announce Version of Windows for ARM Chips at CES Show"

This is not Microsoft saying Intel is dead, but at least saying their marriage is over (though they'll remain bet friends) and currently ARM is more attractive.

Dec 22, 2010
10:09 AM EDT
Wait, I thought Windows was never, never, never EVER going to run on anything but Intel from here on out?

Dec 22, 2010
10:35 AM EDT
That's what they'd like Intel to think! Much in the same way Intel wants Microsoft to think they won't be pushing anything besides Windows.

I think selling XScale to Marvell was a pretty dumb move of Intel, especially as Marvell evolved these chips to the server and now Microsoft may support said Marvell chips in the near future.

Of course, those who followed the news saw this coming, and probably so did Intel. But, they have no proof as MS can 'plausible deny' pushing ARM, they can say it's only a last resort or some other weak excuse.

Having seen MS the last few years, if they'll arrive at the party at all, they will be late; normally 'even after the party mood peaked'.

Dec 22, 2010
10:44 AM EDT
The nice thing on Linux programs is that they (most of them) are opensource, while most of the programs on windows, are closed source. That will make it allot harder to have certain windows programs on arm. At least there is something positive in this: all viruses need to be recompiled for arm.

Dec 22, 2010
11:42 AM EDT
Quoting:At least there is something positive in this: all viruses need to be recompiled for arm.

But unless they change the OS, after a quick recompile, they WILL run.

That's the funny part.

Dec 22, 2010
12:45 PM EDT
@JaseP --

But on ARM, they'll consume less electricity when they do. Still a win, right?

Dec 22, 2010
2:35 PM EDT
Windows on ARM: Costing your time 85% more efficiently than before!

Dec 22, 2010
3:33 PM EDT
Windows on ARM... It'll probably push ARM into the "Megahertz" race.

I just can't see MS making a mean, lean and clean Windows 7 derivative, with a modern underpinning and concise API (.NET only?). It'll probably be a halfhearted attempt to get HAL up to snuff and some tweaks to mitigate the worst of the legacy cruft. Then ARM has to contend with a crappy, bloated Windows and the masses of consumer zombies demanding it on their ARM devices.

How many ARM "dedicated addons" to speed things up before an ARM setup is as complex as any old x86(_64) setup?

Dec 22, 2010
3:41 PM EDT
"Concise API"? LMAO. Not part of Microsoft's vocabulary.

Dec 23, 2010
3:48 AM EDT
MS bought an ARMv7 architectural license, so I'm pretty convinced they are currently working on some kind of emulator or code translator.

Dec 23, 2010
9:45 AM EDT
My bet:

They recompile Win7 for ARM, removing just enough bloat to squeeze it on to the average Android Tablet's specs... Probably buggy as hell for the first 3 releases.

Dec 23, 2010
6:44 PM EDT
Will DRM slow down as bad or worse on ARM than on Intel?

I, for one, don't care to find out.

Posting in this forum is limited to members of the group: [ForumMods, SITEADMINS, MEMBERS.]

Becoming a member of LXer is easy and free. Join Us!