To have a really competitive tablet computer you need to have a really good battery and a very conservative cpu with a low TDP (Thermal Design Power). The reason is a tablet is even more portable than the old Portable PC. No one wants to hookup to a power adapter just to get through the day. However, maybe at the end of the day when they go to bed they will plug in the tablet. A cell phone style System on a Chip is a much bigger step towards that goal if it can ship in a Windows 8 tablet. Read On:
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, speaking during the San Diego semiconductor companys annual analyst day in New York, said Qualcomm is currently working with Microsoft to ensure that the upcoming Windows 8 operating system will run on its ARM-based Snapdragon SoCs.
Windows 8 is a’comin’ down the street. And I bet you’ll see it sooner rather than later. Maybe as early as June on some products. The reason of course is the Tablet Market is sucking all the air out of the room and Microsoft needs a win to keep the mindshare favorable to it’s view of the consumer computer market. Part of that drive is fostering a new level of cooperation with System on chip manufacturers who until now have been devoted to the mobile phone, smart phone market. Now everyone wants a great big Microsoft hope to conquer the Apple iPad in the tablet market. And this may be their only hope to accomplish that in the coming year.
Forrester Research just 2 days ago however predicted the Windows 8 Tablet dead on arrival:
IDG News Service – Interest in tablets with Microsoft’s Windows 8 is plummeting, Forrester Research said in a study released on Tuesday.
Key to making a mark in the tablet computing market is content, content, content. Performance and specs alone will not create a Windows 8 Tablet market in what is an Apple dominated tablet marketplace, as the article says. It also appears previous players in the failed PC Tablet market will make a valiant second attempt this time using Windows 8 (I’m thinking Fujitsu, HP and Dell according to this article).
Given Tuesday’s announcement of the first ARM-15 architecture chip from ARM and TMSC, the ball is rolling now. We’re getting closer and closer to desktop capable CPUs in terms of clock, core and now data/instruction bus widths. Once the ARM-15 64bit chip hits the market Qualcomm is going to need to accelerate its development of competing chips. But for now, I think integrating many functions into the same die will have to do. Here now is Qualcomm’s SnapDragon, Read On:
Qualcomm remains the only active player in the smartphone/tablet space that uses its architecture license to put out custom designs. The benefit to a custom design is typically better power and performance characteristics compared to the more easily synthesizable designs you get directly from ARM. The downside is development time and costs go up tremendously.
I’m very curious to see how the different ARM based processors fair against one anther in each successive generation. Especially the move to ARM-15 (x64) none of which will see a quick implementation on a handheld mobile device. ARM-15 is a long ways off yet, but it appears in spite of the next big thing in ARM designed cores, there’s a ton of incremental improvements and evolutionary progress being made on current generation ARM cores. ARM-8 and ARM-9 have a lot of life in them for the foreseeable future including die shrinks that allow either faster clock speeds or constant clock speeds and lower power drain and lower Thermal Design Point (TDP).
Apple’s also going steadily towards the die shrink in order to cement current gains made in it’s A5 chip design too. Taiwan Manfucturing Semi-Conductor (TMSC) is the biggest partner in this direction and is attempting to run the next iteration of Apple mobile processors on its state of the art 22 nanometer design rule process.