Has Aunt Edna talked to you much about x86 architecture this week. Ahhh-No. The fact that the processors in tablets and other portables is architecturally different from the powerful, long standing x86 processor, used in their “big” desktops and laptops, doesn’t hold much interest.They are completely unaware of the battle developing between the two technologies.
In 2010 bloggers said things like, “tablets are toys, a passing phase, and not real computers”. In fact I think I said that. Obviously not everyone is good at handicapping technology. At my first TechEd conference in June of 2012, I was very surprised at the number of tablets being used by everyone. It was eye opening.
The buzzword today is mobility. Small laptops, netbooks, Tablets 10 inch, 8 inch, 5 inch, and even smart phones are not the bottom step on this quest for small and portable.
Today we have Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear, and I imagine our choices and form factors will only increase at a staggering rate.
Portability is driving all of the change.
Today we have “regular”, big x86 processors powering the large heavy desktop computers and POWER LAPTOPS vs. ARM type processors powering the latest mobility devices, tablets and smart phones. These two different processors require completely different software. What works in one doesn’t work in the other. Whatever you’re using on your desktop must be rewritten to be used on your tablet. (with the exception of some powerful and relatively expensive Windows tablets)
So here are some questions we need to be asking. Will the long standing, tower of power x86 processor be replaced by the latest and greatest light weight? Will the masses continue to pay for big and heavy when light and cheap can do the job? The answer to that is a thunder clapping NO.
The x86 architecture is being replaced by ARM type processors and as that happens the “programs” of yesterday are being replaced by the lighter “apps” of today. Take a look at this quote:
x86 shipments dropped by 9% in Q3 2012. Furthermore, the expected surge in PC sales (and x86 shipments) in Q4 due to the release of Windows 8 has failed to materialize. NPD data indicates that Windows PCs sales in U.S. retail stores fell a staggering 21% in the four-week period from October 21 to November 17, compared to the same period the previous year.  In short, there is now falling demand for x86 processors. Computer buyers are shifting their spending from PCs to next generation computing devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Soon, maybe only 2 years, all of the software we’re using today will be re written for the smaller mobility processors and devices. Even Microsoft has strayed from their long exclusive relations ship with x86 by using the Atom processor and the corresponding Windows 8RT operating system designed specifically for tablets along with the corresponding Microsoft Office 2013 RT application. This has come at the expense of all those desktop lovers out there. I think we all agree that there is nothing helpful with the Windows 8 series for the old tried and true desktop.
This may be the first example of Microsoft cheating on its lifelong partner but it won’t be the last. Already there is much effort being spent on developing more powerful ARM processors. Multiple core processors (8 core) using as much as 16 GB of memory. This doesn’t sound like a technology that is being relegated to your Aunt Lenore’s net book.
The ARM processors of today are following the same path as their x86 fathers. Multiple cores, faster, stronger able to process more; but with ARM the emphasis has been on reducing power consumption. All this for extended battery life and portability which is not a factor for desktops, but you can bet you are going to be fed ARM processors for you desktop. It’s inevitable; you will eventually have no, “reasonable” choice.
The recent September launch of Intel’s Avoton Microserver chip only solidifies the obvious. Big changes are happening across the board and they will change what we are holding, wearing or accessing. It will change the software you can use. Of course that’s nost a problem if you don’t mind shelling out more bucks.
Tell me if you agree or disagree.