ARM vs Intel-lovers

Fascinating to see how myopic people are.  I was going through the forums on Ars Technica and came across a thread titled “why are upcoming ARM netbooks hyped so much? Noone wants ARM.”  The thread kicked off with this:

This is getting really silly. Why does the IT media seem so obsessed with hyping upcoming ARM-based notebooks? You’d think that the netbook manufacturers actually learned and took a few hints from their first few releases, most notabling that: the market at large wants to run full blown Windows on their notebooks. Linux is a niche and a small one at that. ARM CPUs can run Linux / WinCE / Android, neither of these 3 are “full blown Windows”, therefor ARM based netbooks are doomed to fail by default.

There were arguments both ways, but I was struck, again, by how invested some people get in defending their captors.  I ended up posting the following as a comment.

Noone” wants ARM? How about this, I know a bunch of people who don’t care if their netbook has Intel or Windows inside, because everything they use if for happens in a web browser. Cheap, compact, and long battery life? That’s something they actually want.

And don’t forget all the people in developing markets who either do no computing at all, or they are already ARM users because their primary access to computing is through a mobile phone. An ARM netbook would be a nice step up. Not that they have any particular affection for ARM, unless, of course, its made by a local ARM licensee.

As for all you “IT” guys who feel your pants tighten when you think about upgrading your ESXi cluster to some new Nehalems, there are guys who are responsible for more virtual machine instance hours in a day than you will be in your whole lifetime, swapping fantasies with guys who’se applications won’t run on the biggest, baddest Nehalem box, much less a long aisle of racks stuffed full of Sandybridges. Those guys, they are fantasizing about how much power and money they can save with assloads of systems build on upcoming high-volume, low-cost ARM SoCs. Those guys are going to put nine out of ten of you Windows-cleaners out of work if you cling to the old-way of doing things for too long.

And “chipguy,” don’t forget, Intel got its start in the microprocessor business supplying chips for desktop calculators. Read some Clayton Christensen. Modest beginnings have led to big things, and toppled old empires in the tech business again and again. No reason to think it won’t happen again.

Intel has to invest a lot of capital to hold on to its lead. I don’t know about you, but in the long run, I’d bet on a competitive ecosystem over a command-economy for the efficient allocation of capital.

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