Wednesday, March 11, 2015

ARM First Challenge to x86 Processor Dominance

ARM First Challenge to x86 Processor Dominance

x86 has beat off every attempt to replace it - except the ARM in phones and tablets

Failed replacements:
  • 8086 - 1M 20 bit memory address 8086 contains 14 16-bit registers, four of which can also be used as two eight-bit registers. 
  • 286 - 16 bits, 16 bit offset
  • 386 - 32 bits
  • Motorola 68000 - Wikipedia  1979 16/32 bit with no segmentation hack, dominant CPU for Unix-based workstations successful on Apple Mac by IBM power PC and then Intel x86  acclaimed general ease of use. 24-bit 16 Mb memory address limit comparEd to 8086 68000 contains 18 32-bit registers and one 16-bit register, including eight 32-bit “data” registers, named D0 through D7. 
  • Intel iAPX 432 16/32-bit introduced in 1981, failed by 1986  Intel's first 32-bit processor design on two separate integrated circuits. Started in 1975 as the 8800 as Intel's major design for the 1980s. commercial failure for Intel discontinued in 1986.  stack machine with no visible general-purpose registers. It supported object-oriented programming, garbage collection and multitasking, o/s written in Ada.  linear addressing of data could still only use 16-bit offsets. Plans to replace x86 failed when benchmarks at roughly 1/4 the speed of the new 80286 chip at the same clock frequency  chip's complexity limited the clock speed and lengthened the design schedule, and was seen as costly overhead rather than performance enhancing simplification. Bit-aligned variable-length instructions were costly. New York Times, "the i432 ran 5 to 10 times more slowly than its competitor, the Motorola 68000" enter_environment, which set up the memory protection. The compiler ran this for every single variable in the  system,  segmented memory  2^24 segments of up to 64 KB each,  2^24 total address (16 MB).

Intel vs. ARM: Two titans' tangled fate
ARM vs. Atom: The battle for the next digital frontier
Intel has barely made a dent in the mobile market, while ARM has been wildly successful. Does that spell doom for Intel -- or is ARM's triumph overblown?
In the last 12 months, ARM pulled in a little over $1.1 billion in revenue, while Intel netted nearly $53 billion.
By Jim Turley
InfoWorld | Feb 27, 2014

ARM-based chips have dominated the designs for mobile processors in much the same way that Intel's x86 family of processors locked up the Windows PC market a few decades ago.

A big part of ARM's success, however, has little to do with better technology. It's the company's business model. Whereas Intel builds chips, ARM only designs them What sealed the deal, however, was that mobile device makers needed to design their own ASICs intended to power specific devices -- and realized it worked better to integrate a CPU into those ASICs rather than soldering a CPU alongside. Enter ARM and its CPU-for-hire business model. Want to mix a CPU in with the other ingredients of your new ASIC or SoC? ARM has your recipe. Like few other companies at that time, ARM was willing to let customers bake its CPU into their own devices.

 roughly speaking, an ARM design has about one-third the number of transistors of an x86 design. That's leaving out the likes of cache and bus interfaces, which can easily consume more transistors than the CPU "core" itself. Indeed, most processors today -- RISC or CISC -- are about three-quarters cache, with a little CPU core lurking in one corner of the chip.... ARM can get away with slashing its transistor budget because it doesn't support as many architectural features as x86.

May 5, 2014

AMD is ramping up ARM designs and fleshing out future X86 designs in a two-pronged approach to capturing market share, explained Lisa Su, general manager of AMD’s Global Business Units. Here is the market as AMD sees it for processors:
The chart above shows the total addressable market for processors across embedded, mobile, PC, console, and server segments by architecture. The gray bars in the middle of the chart lump together Power, Sparc, MIPS, various mainframe, and other proprietary chips. Interestingly, you can see that the percentage of the market supported by X86 processors has fallen in recent years, but is expected to stabilize by AMD’s estimates, while ARM chips will see their share of the chip pie grow.

November 5, 2013

VDC Research Finds ARM Holdings Gaining Market Share In High Growth Processor Applications

Adoption of ARM on the rise in many fast-growing embedded processing and M2M markets; x86 adoption unchanged while MIPS and Power architectures cede share to ARM.

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ARM Taking Share from Other Architectures
'Unless Intel can make big inroads in the smartphone, tablet or wearables market, ARM stands to extend its reign within the high-growth and high-volume embedded processor markets.' - Dan Mandell, Analyst
Boston, MA (PRWEB) November 06, 2013
A recently completed study by VDC Research shows that ARM is gaining share in many high growth applications for CPUs and microcontrollers (MCUs), while other architectures are fighting to maintain share or minimize the ground they are losing to ARM. In the study of the global engineering community, VDC noted a sharp rise over the last twelve months in the number of engineers indicating the use of ARM-based technology in their current design. At the same time, x86's share of the market slipped slightly, while MIPS and Power lost significant share to ARM. ARM's ability to take share from established vendors and architectures will not be uniform across all processor classes and industries, but overall VDC forecasts meaningful share growth for ARM in the coming years. Dan Mandell, Analyst at VDC Research said, "ARMs success in mobile devices has given them technology and expertise in areas that matter a great deal to engineers in many high growth embedded and M2M applications. These include automotive, medical devices, and energy. Low power, small footprint, robust tools, and support across a variety of operating systems puts ARM in an enviable position. Intel and others are certainly not sitting still, but ARM was first off the line, and continues to innovate at a furious pace. The energy and enthusiasm in the ARM ecosystem cannot be discounted either."
Online Resources:
ARM Gaining Share - Download The Research Note

April 2013

Shows half phone / half PC in 2012 but nearly all ARM by 2022 if apple and microsoft shift to ARM PCs and mac

Wikibon believes that both Apple and later Microsoft will migrate their PC operating systems to ARM, leaving behind specialized very high-end devices on Intel. The revised timescale and projection of these events are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 –Smart Device Projected Shipments by Device Type, 2012-2022
Source: Wikibon February 2013, based on IDC and Gartner 2012 shipment estimates projected by Wikibon to 2022
Assumptions: successful shipment of 64-bit ARM processors and migration to ARM by Apple and Microsoft

January 2010

Ultra-mobile devices (UMD), including netbooks and smartbooks, are predominantly shipped with x86-based processors. In fact, they made up 90% of UMD devices shipped in 2009. Even with that incredible amount of market share ABI Research is predicting thatARM-based processors will overtake x86-based UMD device shipments by 2013.
MD-MCE-104 chart(1)
The research firm believes that part of the momentum behind ARM-based processors is that they are perceived to be best for devices with an “always connected” mode. It also helps that a number of form factors are appearing with ARM-based processors including smartphones and tablets.
No doubt helping the ARM cause is the fact that the new Apple tablet, expected to launch this quarter, will be powered by an ARM-based processor

Small, inexpensive, power-efficient new chips from Intel and ARM are enabling the new wave of mobile devices -- and setting the two companies on a collision course            
By Neil McAllister   InfoWorld | Oct 28, 2009
Consider: Intel sold its 1 billionth x86 chip in 2003. Its closest rival, AMD, broke the 500 million mark just this year. ARM, on the other hand, expects to ship 2.8 billion processors in 2009 alone -- or around 90 chips per second. That's in addition to the more than 10 billion ARM processors already powering devices today.

ARM may hardly be a household name, but to insiders it's one of the most recognized brands in the semiconductor industry. By volume, it's the most successful 32-bit processor architecture in the world, accounting for more CPUs in more devices than any other -- without so much as a single ad on TV. 

ARM's novel history. A unique, RISC-based processor design, ARM grew out of the quirky British computer industry of the 1980s. It was compact and efficient mainly because it had to be -- its British backers lacked access to the kind of capital that propelled Intel to the top of Silicon Valley. But when it became clear that x86 would dominate the PC market in the United Kingdom as it had in America, ARM's efficient design quickly earned it a place of favor among digital device manufacturers.

Atom, on the other hand, is a full-blooded x86 CPU

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