Originally Posted by Idontcare
We'll never know the truth because we aren't in any of the rooms where the big decisions are being made, but we can guess as to the topics they will have had to wrestle with in the journey to get to where they are at.
Is x86 superior to ARM when designed to be manufactured on the same process node? Or does x86's advantage merely a masked disadvantage that has been more than over-compensated by billions spent on developing a process node that is far superior to that available at the foundry for other ARM designers?
And what of the design itself? Is x86 superior to ARM because it has benefited from decades of outsized R&D budgets to enhance, optimize, and tweak the design for maximal benefit on any given node - at the expense of billions upon billions in R&D bucks - whereas ARM is more like a scattered collection of nomads who wander the wilderness using stone tools to eek out a living year over year?
If Intel threw as many dollars into ARM as they have invested into their existing mobile x86 effort how would such an ARM chip fare against the current x86 offerings? If Nvidia had access to Intel's leading edge process tech would Tegra 3 be a much more potent competitor?
We can't hope to ever know the answers to these questions. And as consumers, investors, competitors, or OEMs, the answers to these questions are irrelevant anyways.
All that is relevant is what reality has made available, sans the resource and investment normalization efforts which are at best topics of relevance for the academically inclined.
Is there an "x86 tax"? Perhaps, or perhaps there is an "ARM tax" instead.
Now this post really cuts to the core of the issue doesn't it.
Yes, we will never know the answers to these questions but history can give us some ideas.
If you are old enough to have lived through it Apple made an enormous push to RISC when it moved from the outdated Motorola processors to the Power PC RISC architecture. It was a big gamble because it meant a total rewrite of the operating system and all applications. That's an enormous thing to ask the user base and I doubt any base except the absolutely loyal Apple following would have gone along with it. They did and even the most stalwart were kind of disgruntled as quite a few of my friends were such.
Anyway Apple with their Motorola driven computers were falling farther and farther behind Intel by the time the 486 came along. They moved to RISC and for a short time enjoyed a performance lead in many applications such as Photoshop. We heard from Apple and others in the computer community that x86 was a dead end, RISC was the future. TV commercials, radio ads, slides...
Being a lifelong Intel user I was wondering if this was the end of x86.
But then Intel came back with this new "Pentium" processor and a new RISC-like addition called micro-ops. Intel instantly became viable again and 10 years or so later Apple waived the white flag and moved to the Intel camp.
AMD caught Intel with it's pants down and in 2006 Intel again came roaring back with C2D.
The point is that Intel has been challenged before and has always fended of such challenges. They have enormous pockets. They have the best and the brightest and a wealth of x86 and process information we can only dream about.
If this battle is to be fought over who will have the processors which will run Windows in ultramobile devices then I think it is safe to predict Intel won't be caught. They might be pushed a bit which would be a very good thing for us.
If they must compete in the ARM space then this is more of a fair fight but even then I think they still win the war, if not every battle.
Whatever happens I love that their are other heavyweight contenders such as Samsung getting into the ring with Intel.