By now, regular HEXUS.channel readers will be familiar with the looming battle between Intel and the group of companies that make low power processors based on designs licensed from UK company ARM, more succinctly referred to as the ARM ecosystem.
This ecosystem includes many semiconductor heavyweights like Texas Instruments, Samsung and Qualcomm and has, until now, restricted itself mainly to making very low powered processors such as you would find in embedded applications and in mobile phones.
But the line separating the mobile phone industry and the PC industry is becoming increasingly blurred. As ARM's designs progress, OEMs are able to build smartphones with PC-like processing power. Meanwhile the runaway success of Intel's Atom low power CPU has confirmed that portability and low price are now the biggest priorities for the majority of PC consumers.
Intel has made no secret of its desire to become a player in the smartphone market, which, according to the ARM slide below, is expected to offer a far larger TAM (total available market) than mobile computing by 2013.
However, Atom is still too big, hot and power-hungry to be used in mobile phone handsets and Intel doesn't expect to produce one (codenamed Medfield) that can be used in smartphones until 2011 at the earliest.