Things certainly got interesting between Microsoft and Intel this week. It was indicated Microsoft is eyeing options that may precede a departure from Intel x86 architecture for Windows. The reason for this is Intel’s lack of competitive offerings, particularly their Atom platform, which currently lacks features compared to ARM architecture.
In order to compete against Apple and Google on mobile and tablet platforms Microsoft has embraced ARM soC architecture. Components of various CES announcements indicated capabilities of this RISC technology powering not only the aforementioned devices, but as Nvidia chief scientist Bill Dally has said “Project Denver extends the range of ARM systems upward to PCs, data center servers, and supercomputers”. He also goes directly after Intel “For several years, makers of high-end computing platforms have had no choice about instruction-set architecture”
Is the world of “Wintel” crumbling? There certainly are possibilities here. And while tech pundits may be haste to proclaim the death of Windows, Intel, or Wintel, the truth is that no one knows. This is will be an interesting story to watch. For one, Intel could ally with Android development in order to penetrate that market right now. Microsoft could choose to race down the track of ARM architecture and gain huge advantages in the server and enterprise market as a side benefit. One thing for sure is Intel is not going to take it lying down. They have a giant R&D and they will surely focus on getting their offering on even keel in terms of power consumption (the biggest deficit) while not compromising their drive towards performance. It very well could be that a year from now we might be seeing something completely different. Let’s not forget that ARM development has a significant mobile market jump and many advances yet to come forward. Microsoft on ARM was a significant announcement, in addition to Nvidia’s focus on their ongoing developments. Can Intel step it up?