The low-power CPU marketplace is set to get hotter, with the first commercial product based around ARM's new Cortex technology due immenently.
According to PC World
, Freescale is due to use the Consumer Electronics Show to officially launch the i.MX515 netbook processor – an extremely energy efficient design based around the Cortex-A8 single-core system from UK-based ARM.
Promising clock speeds up to 1GHz and in-built support for 3D rendering and high-definition video decoding, the chips look set to shake up the relatively stagnant netbook market – in which we see manufacturer after manufacturer produce cookie-cutter clones with near-identical specs, all based around Intel's low-power Atom chip.
Freescale's Glen Burchers is hoping that the new chip will be a good fit for the company's future vision of where the netbook is going, stating that “we believe the netbook is a device that is going to be primarily targeted at Internet access, that is a companion device to computers and to smart phones [-] not a replacement for either.
While the chip won't be beating any speed records, its high-efficiency design means it can be cooled entirely passively, removing the last moving part from modern solid-state based netbook devices. When you add in to the mix a charge cycle estimated to hit eight hours from a small three-cell battery – and up to double that for larger batteries – you've got quite an exciting system on your hands.
Sadly, Microsoft is due to be left out in the cold on this one: as the chips are based around the ARM architecture rather than x86, Windows won't run; instead, the only option provided at retail will be Linux. Canonical – the corporate behind popular desktop Linux distribution Ubuntu – is working with ARM to tweak
the open-source OS for exactly this destination.
Do you believe that lack of Windows support will spell the demise of the Cortex-based chips, or will the lure of a completely solid-state netbook with eight hours of battery life win people over to the Linux side of life? Share your thoughts over in the forums