ARM-based PCs: Why if x86-based already exist?

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Not long ago Apple announced that it would stop using x86-64-based Intel chips to switch to using ARM chips. What they have called Apple Silicon, which are not chips with ARM IP cores, but will be cores based on the ISA ARM, but designed by Apple itself.

Own Linus Torvalds He said it would be nice to have powerful ARMs for development, so that you can compile on them without using cross-compilation for this architecture. But regardless of all this, you should know that there are already some computers with these chips beyond the Raspberry Pi. For example, the Pinebook Pro ARM, which can already be ordered (pre-order) for $ 199 with Linux.

These laptops have a 14.1 ″ IPS LCD FullHD screen, Dual-Core ARM 1.8Ghz Cortex-A72 64-bit chip, and Quad-Core Cortex-A53 1.4Ghz, along with four MALI T-860 cores for its GPU, 4GB LPDDR4 RAM, 64 GB eMMC 5.0 storage and operating system GNU / Linux. Of course, the laptop will have WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 3.0 (A and C), microSD slot and audio jack ...

Okay, but where am I going with all this? Well, very simple. As in the sector of servers and HPC is beginning to see more and more presence of ARM, you will even know that the most powerful team in the Top500 is based on ARM, it is likely that the same thing will happen little by little in the PC sector, even more so with the wave started by Apple that surely many will take advantage of to "boost" themselves. As happened with iPods and the number of mp3 players that emerged from other brands taking advantage of the fever of these devices ...

ARM not only has and advantages clear in terms of energy efficiency (consumption is important both for the environment and for extending the autonomy of the batteries), it also occupies very little surface area in silicon, so that more cores per unit area can be implemented than with other architectures such as x86. That can be a good asset now that each time we are closer to the limit of silicon, to lower costs with quite succulent yields. Therefore, ARM should not be underestimated in the medium term on the PC, nor should RISC-V be underestimated, which follows in its footsteps although it still lacks a bit more maturity).

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  1.   Miguel said

    Chromebooks with ARMs have been around for a long time.
    Despite having great success in the USA and very good loyalty from its users (repeat) in other markets, Google and its partners have decided not to insist on this offer.

    Recently Huawei has released an ARM desktop PC with UOS (Chinese Lignux based on Deepin) that, since it does not go on sale in the West, has not been paid much attention, but it seems that it will equip the Chinese government, which are not few direct and indirect sales.

    But Apple, as almost always does not invent gunpowder, although surely its SoC will be the most powerful when its ARM PCs come out and soon Samsung, which is making the adreno (acronym for radeon) navi for mobile phones will release more powerful ones, because the world is like that (or maybe I'm not a python)

  2.   Camilo Bernal said

    I still remember the early 2000s, when Steve Jobs said that Macintoshes "could kick any PC's ass," and the legion of fanboys attributed their supposed power to PowerPC processors, and Intel was the enemy. In 2005 there was more than one who almost cried with the change to Intel processors, predicting that it would be the end of the Macs, and that now they could be installed on any PC. Goodbye to that supposed exclusivity.

    The only thing that really happened was that Apple was selling laptops that, with the same processing capacity, cost twice or even triple compared to other brands. What will happen now? Will fanboys again close ranks against Intel and repeat that the power of mac resides in its 'exclusive' processors?