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Intel Brushes Off ARM Move

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Intel is a BIG company. It has just announced that its fourth-quarter profit rose to $3.39 billion, or 59 cents a share, up from a year-ago profit of $2.28 billion, or 40 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter rose to $11.46 billion. Not bad then.

Last week Steve Ballmer announced that the next version of Windows will not only be compatible with Intel’s x86 chip architecture but would also run on ARM’s chip. Many wondered was the British upstart’s rapid rise a signal of Intel’s imminent decline. Apparently not, it seems. Indeed Paul Otellini, Intel’s chief, said that the move was going to help his company.

“The plus for Intel is that as they unify their operating systems we now have the ability for the first time, one, to have a designed-from-scratch, touch-enabled operating system for tablets that runs on Intel that we don't have today; and, secondly, we have the ability to put our lowest-power Intel processors, running Windows 8 or the next generation of Windows, into phones, because it's the same OS stack. And I look at that as an upside opportunity for us.” ARM? ARM who?

It seems as if Intel are going from strength to strength, adding to record profit levels announced last summer. The PC market grew roughly 17 percent in 2010 despite continued financial belt tightening across the globe. “In 2011, everything gets a little better. The economy is forecast to improve,” Otellini ominously proclaimed at the company’s financial results.

It’s hardly surprising that Intel is treating the ARM issue with a certain disdain. When you look at the figures, we see that Intel is the Barcelona to ARM’s Accrington Stanley. Intel had fourth-quarter profits of $3.39 billion while ARM’s yearly profits were a meager £19.6 million. So in the grand scheme of things Intel is in a very dominant position, especially with the launch of Sandy Bridge, and it will take something of miraculous proportions to see ARM getting anywhere near its market position. And this was reflected in the lack of panic or fear in Otellini’s address last night.

While ARM may not be on the same planet as Intel, it is certainly on the up and with everyone and anyone looking to get into bed with them, it will be interesting to see how the processor market changes in the coming years.

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