IBM And ARM Extend Chip Partnership; Should Intel Worry?

IBM and ARM have decided to extend their existing collaboration for CPU development. The goal is to provide the "next generation" of mobile CPUs that are smaller, more dense and more powerful system on a chip (SoC) designs. With Microsoft announcing at CES 2011 that it will support ARM CPUs and SoCs in the future, should Intel be worried?

The shortest answer is no, Intel doesn't have to worry. At least not yet.

But Intel should be taking note. IBM and ARM plan on shrinking CPUs down to 14nm, which eventually will mean better battery life, more complex and fast multimedia usage and tighter integration -- both physically and electronically -- for future components.

The partnership between IBM and ARM, which IBM noted has been around since 2008, is a powerful one, since both companies are chip makers. Their plan is to hopefully overcome CPU manufacturing barriers normally experienced when building a CPU alone. A combination of both companies' technologies (and a shared understanding of RISC CPUs) could produce chips that are incredibly dense little powerhouses and that easily could give Intel's Lincroft Atom CPUs a decent run for their money.

With Microsoft supporting SoC designs from both Intel and ARM in the next iteration of Windows, Intel no longer has an upper hand by saying it can run Windows. (At CES 2011, Microsoft demo-ed its Office software running entirely on an ARM chip.) What's more, while Atom CPUs currently are still hovering around the 45nm to 32nm size, IBM/ARM CPUs at 14nm could easily slip into more devices, especially where heat and size are a big concern.

So what does this really mean for the VARs and MSPs out there? It means the potential for more Window-based devices to sell and support, and it also means that consumerization of IT will become even more apparent than it is now, with tablets and other mobile devices. Be ready for the oncoming onslaught and be ready to be more productive.

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