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Intel Brushes Off ARM Move

David Gilbert


Intel Brushes Off ARM Move

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.


January 14, 2011, 3:21 pm

Good job intel, you beat that little man ARM down into the ground after it's large spike. Why? Well because I know who I'm putting my money on (literally) and it isn't Intel. Grab me some bargains :)

I really do wonder if Intel can get Atom low power and fast enough to compete with ARM in the next 2 years. Intel does have all the might in the world so I won't doubt them, I just see ARM as a company that is going to take off. Also i'm much more interested in what AMD is doing with fusion than anything Intel has so far announced with Atom. If fusion lives up to the promise then surely it will kill Atom in the netbook/tablet front. Kill it dead.

David Gilbert

January 14, 2011, 4:02 pm

@Runadumb I agree that one the most interesting interesting issues in the coming years will be Intel's ability (or otherwise) to make Atom competitive against ARM's low power processors. Also, speaking to Bob Grim from AMD at CES, he was VERY confident that its Fusion APUs would blow Intel out of the water...it's a very interesting time in this area at the moment.


January 14, 2011, 4:23 pm

You cannot make a direct comparison between Intel and ARM. As you know ARM only designs the CPU architecture. They don't even make the CPU. Yes, of course Intel has hugely more resources to throw at its processor design teams to compete with ARM, but Intel also has to share those same huge resources with high power processor designers, silicon designers, FAB costs, etc. The ARM advantage is that once they have designed a processor type, their licensees, equally as large as intel and more of them, such as Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc, will throw in additional $s to refine the design for their own purposes and to do the manufacturing. Intel has to compete with them as well.

Not that Intel can be brushed aside, but this is not exactly a Samson & Goliath situation. IMHO.


January 14, 2011, 4:40 pm

@Runadumb - As self-appointed prophet of ARM doom (well... realism, anyway), I've got to ask: ARM is now trading at a price/earnings ratio of >100. That already prices in an almost irrationally glorious future. At what price does it stop being a bargain? ;)


January 14, 2011, 4:52 pm

@Simonm Quiet you! I want my dreams of (very) early retirement to last more than 10 minutes. :)


January 14, 2011, 7:06 pm


I remember something similar two/three year back when AMD were touting their Neo CPUs as an Atom-killer. The Neos never made as much ground as people hoped due to several factors.

I'm apprehensive to root for Fusion until I see several reviews, however, it all looks positive seeing how many manufacturers have announced plans for Fusion ultraportables this year.

PS. As a note, I have an AMD Neo II machine, and absolutely love it!


January 14, 2011, 8:15 pm

Neo was indeed a disappointing chip but the key difference now is the IGP. Intel suck at GFX and while the IGP on SandyBridge is miles better than previous efforts AMD have full access to Ati technology. Considering the processor wars is entering a phase of more GPU accelerated software this puts AMD at a distinct advantage for lower-end devices. AMD can beat Atom to death with a large stick in this regard.

In saying that Intel has a fab second to none and have their chips at a nm that AMD can only dream of helping to keep their chips speeding along. AMD need Fusion to live up to it's promise.


January 14, 2011, 9:34 pm

@Runadumb - You don't really want to retire too early... you'd only get bored!


January 14, 2011, 11:39 pm


''ARM is the future, Mr Anderson. Embrace it or die out like an obselete C5 Sinclair.''


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