Forum: µC & Digital Electronics Embedded processor wars

Author: shiramoo (Guest)
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An interesting article below or www.eetimes.eu

Embedded processor wars

Steve Bitton
Industrial Control Designline
06/09/2009 4:29 PM

As embedded processors become a bigger focus for Intel, especially with 
the recent acquisition of Wind River, they aim to do battle with other 
processor architectures (ARM, Power PC, SuperH, ColdFire, etc.) in that 
particular market..  With the desktop PC market slowing down, Intel is 
eyeing the dual consumer biggies of smart phones and netbooks.  And of 
course, nobody can say that ARM is not without their own ambitions, as 
they look up the processor food chain to those same consumer markets. 
(Windows vs. Linux is another subplot of the consumer market--I won't 
get into that here.)

Where does that leave the less glamorous world of industrial control? 
Well neither Intel nor ARM has forgotten about this area.  Intel is seen 
in all sorts of embedded computing platforms, and is actively pushing 
into that area with the Atom.  While ARM's approach seems to be a little 
different, creating cores of all shapes and sizes for their industry 
partners to address every possible processor scenario.  With their 
Cortex-M series of microcontroller cores, they are focusing on 
competition that Intel would never touch, the 8 and 16-bit 
microcontroller market.  In this particular battle, ARM and their 
partners face microcontroller companies such as Microchip, Renesas, 
Freescale, among many others.

One would have to look at this situation and note that ARM seems to be 
pushing on two opposite ends of the processor spectrum in order to 
achieve overall processor dominance. A very daunting task, indeed.  Is 
ARM too ambitious in trying to fight battles on two (or more) fronts? 
Or will their strategy of partnering with silicon manufacturers to take 
some of the sales/marketing/manufacturing burden off (so they can 
concentrate on creating good cores for all applications), pay off?

Brings up some more questions for the audience...  Will there be a 
dominant processor architecture?  Will there always be many different 
processor architectures for the many applications out there?  Let me 
know what you think by commenting on this article or emailing me at 


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