Intel exec rubbishes ARM chips

October 27, 2008 // 8:58 a.m.

Tags: #arm #idf #intel #intel-developer-forum #low-power #netbook #ppw #processor #smartphone

While UK chip maker ARM is hoping to get the next generation of its RISC-based processors out of the smartphone and into the netbook, rival Intel opts for the ever-professional public badmouthing tactic.

According to BetaNews, the director of ecosystems at Intel's Ultra Mobility Group – and yes, that is a real job title – Pankaj Kedia got involved in a discussion at the Intel Developer's Forum about the Apple iPhone and made the ill-advised comment that “the shortcomings of the iPhone have come from ARM.

Explaining his comment, Kedia clarified that “any sort of application that requires any horsepower at all, and the iPhone struggles [...] if you want to run full Internet, you're going to have to run an Intel-based architecture.” These comments come despite the fact that Intel is itself an ARM licensee.

With ARM hoping to make the leap from being a market-leader in smartphones and PDAs to the low-power 'netbook' devices with the A8 and A9 range – directly rivalling Intel's own low-power Atom chip, and currently beating it in the performance-per-watt stakes – the comments have come at a bad time. To prevent embarrassment, Intel's Anand Chandrasekher – Kedia's boss – has made an official retraction of the statement, saying that the company acknowledges “that Intel's low-power Atom processor does not yet match the battery life characteristics of the ARM processor in a phone form factor; and, that while Intel does have plans on the books to get us to be competitive in the ultra low power domain, we are not there as yet.

With ARM mollified, Chandrasekher went on to assure iPhone fans that the device “is an extremely innovative product that enables new and exciting market opportunities,” described his colleague's comments as inappropriate, and stated that “Intel representatives should not have been commenting on specific customer designs.

Do you believe that Kedia's comments – and Chandrasekher's retraction – show that the company is concerned about just how much of a challenge ARM could represent to the far larger Intel? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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