For the first time ever, ARM formally unveiled a roadmap for future CPUs intended to be designed into PCs.
ARM, of course is the dominant technology powering mobile devices (including iPhones and iPads) and a wide range of small products with embedded CPUs.
Windows 10 can successfully run on ARM processors by way of x86 emulation (mimicking the number-crunching of an Intel x86 CPU). Assuming sufficient processing horsepower in the CPU, this means that one can have the full Windows experience on an ARM-equipped laptop or tablet.
Of course, this could be a significant threat to Intel’s absolute dominance in the PC industry. They’re already facing a rumored long-term challenge from Apple, which is reportedly looking to replace Intel processors on future Macs with their own.
But ARM-powered PCs have the potential to fill a niche that Intel has not been able to address: Windows-based smartphones and tablets, plus mini laptops.
ARM can enable mass-produced, energy efficient Windows devices, economically priced and with sufficient processing power. As with any mobile device, they’re “always on” – no manual booting up and powering down. They can basically run all-day on a battery charge, and connect readily to mobile 4G or 5G services. Intel tried over time, but ultimately was unsuccessful in gaining traction into mobile devices.
Windows PCs with ARM processors are still emerging, and as they continue to do so, the road to prosperity may be bumpy. Last year, Intel asserted that x86 emulation could be an incursion into its intellectual property.
It’s still quite a ways before we’ll know for sure whether ARM makes affordable but bonafide Windows mobile devices a reality. There have been plenty of Windows mini devices over the years – but generally disappointing with sluggish performance. The continuing dominance of iPads isn’t mere coincidence.