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ARM surges into the PC market and meets Intel in the middle?

Your PC is powered by Intel, and your smartphone/tablet is powered by ARM.  As the two computing segments converge, who's going to be the dominant force? 

(Intel's Paul Otellini at IDF 2011)

Paul Otellini, Intel’s soon-to-be ex CEO, surprised the world with his decision to retire after a long but fruitful career with the chip maker.  Otellini’s seven year stint with Intel as top brass has helped it to maintain dominance in the PC market, but as mobility becomes more and more prominent who’s going to lead Intel into a new era of computing?  Not to mention, how will Intel react to ARM’s insurgence into the PC sector?

Intel still has the muscle to remain the dominant force in the PC market, but it goes without saying that the desktop PC market is shrinking.  Mobile solutions such as tablets and smartphones are growing rapidly, and the majority of these devices are powered by ARM-based chips.

While we don’t quite know who will captain the Intel battle cruiser next, we do know ARM has its sight set on taking on Intel in the PC space.  The British chip designer expects its processors to take up more than 10 percent of the traditional PC or tablets market share by next year.

ARM clearly holds the lead in the mobile/smartphone market, but Intel still has the upper hand in pure horsepower.  The convergence of PC and mobility means that ARM and Intel will meet somewhere in the middle. 

Microsoft’s recent launch of the Surface RT tablet featuring the ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 3 chip marks one of the rare moments where an ARM chip gets featured in a device marketed at mainstream PC users.  By mainstream PC users, I’m trying to say Microsoft Windows users.

(A big bang for your bucks)

Samsung/Google’s $250 Chromebook featuring Samsung’s Exynos 5250 is still trying to make its mark in the notebook arena, but who can overlook the ridiculously attractive price tag of a Chromebook?  For professionals that are looking into a portable device that can be used to draw up office documents, surf the internet, and some light entertainment, the Chromebook is a steal. 

Ubuntu is also trying to take advantage of ARM’s robust mobile processors by developing a free desktop solution that can be installed alongside the Android operating system. 

ARM is directly tackling the needs of power-hungry PC users, and indirectly, firms on the outside are looking into developing PC-like experiences with the current ARM tech.

Intel and ARM will be vying for the same space, and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Intel winning out.  So for the sake of entertainment, let’s hope both firms go guns a blazing the whole way through.

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