Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft Signs License With ARM

kdawson posted about 4 years ago | from the armed-and-dangerous dept.

Microsoft 148

G143 and several other readers let us know that Microsoft has signed a licensing deal with ARM. "Microsoft signed an agreement with the UK-based ARM, giving Microsoft access to some of the chip designer's intellectual property. The two companies have worked together since 1997, but Ian Drew, ARM's EVP of marketing, said this is the first time Microsoft has become a licensee of ARM's architecture, a move which will allow Microsoft to design their own microarchitecture. Other licensees include Qualcomm, Marvell, and Infineon. Neither company would reveal the cost of the license. Speculation about Microsoft's intentions includes wondering whether the company is taking aim at the iPad, or perhaps looking to produce a next-generation Xbox without the 360's heat problems."

cancel ×

148 comments

Embrace... (2, Funny)

tsa (15680) | about 4 years ago | (#33004316)

Embrace, extend,... thrive! I guess.

Already done, thank you very much (3, Interesting)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 4 years ago | (#33004434)

The ARM core is so widely licensed that it would be hard to find a modern handheld device that does NOT contain one.

"Many semiconductor or IC design firms hold ARM licenses; Analog Devices, Atmel, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Energy Micro, Faraday Technology, Freescale, Fujitsu, Intel (through its settlement with Digital Equipment Corporation), IBM, Infineon Technologies, Nintendo, NXP Semiconductors, OKI, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sharp, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and VLSI are some of the many companies who have licensed the ARM in one form or another" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture#ARM_licensees [wikipedia.org]

IMHO, this is a non-story.

Re:Already done, thank you very much (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#33004546)

It is something of a story, though: "Many semiconductor or IC design firms hold ARM licenses". Microsoft is, historically, neither of those things and; because of the number of existing ARM licensees, they can already get virtually any ARM based SoC configuration that you could reasonably desire, at highly competitive prices, off the shelf, without any sort of license.

Microsoft using ARM cores would be a total non-story. I'm pretty sure that they already do, in a number of capacities. Becoming an ARM licensee, though, means that you have a plan that goes well beyond shoving some off-the-shelf chips into your product. Since MS doesn't seem like a logical entrant into the chip fab market, this development means that they have some kind of design demand up their sleeve that the market for commodity SoCs hasn't delivered....

Re:Already done, thank you very much (3, Interesting)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 4 years ago | (#33004634)

I had a couple of 'why' questions and found a possible answer.

This Intel forum:
http://software.intel.com/en-us/forums/showthread.php?t=67843 [intel.com]

Contains many complaints about the performance of the Intel compiler under WinCE (as well as Intel selling it all off to Marvel).

If you ask me, MS wants a chip that they can optimize for their OS. Seems liek this will lead it down a proprietary hole, not unlike Apple.

So, is that the real story, "MicroSoft, now more like Apple!"

Re:Already done, thank you very much (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 years ago | (#33004900)

Ummm...doesn't Microsoft have their own C++ compiler for Intel chips?

Re:Already done, thank you very much (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 4 years ago | (#33005000)

There is a big difference between writing a compiler for a chip that you do not manufacture, and writing a compiler for a chip that you can add extensions to in order to support faster performance.

It reminds me of Suns attempt to create a picoJava compiler that did not have to perform jit compiling and could directly run bytecode

Re:Already done, thank you very much (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 4 years ago | (#33005686)

no, but Intel has a compiler for Intel chips :)

It runs on Windows too.

Re:Already done, thank you very much (-1, Troll)

mcrbids (148650) | about 4 years ago | (#33005996)

So, is that the real story, "MicroSoft, now more like Apple!"

Only instead of calling it the "iTunes" they'll call it "MyTunes" and "MyPad" and so on. It will look kinda shiny and make gorgeous "bleem" noises. The hard disk light will be perpetually on, and the status bars will be shiny. And it will crash periodically and Microsoft will announce a similar simultaneous effort that will pick up some industry adoption before being marked irrelevant.

Oh, wait - aren't they already doing this?

Re:Already done, thank you very much (0)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 4 years ago | (#33004680)

Ah, Kin V2.

Re:Already done, thank you very much (0)

owlstead (636356) | about 4 years ago | (#33004916)

Akin Kin.

Re:Already done, thank you very much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004942)

Maybe that's why the Kin V1 failed? Not propriatory enouhg?

Re:Already done, thank you very much (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | about 4 years ago | (#33005324)

Cool, a completely new way for them to make users want to shoot themselves in the face.

Xbox 3? (1)

Brit_in_the_USA (936704) | about 4 years ago | (#33005794)

Since the have licensed the arcitecture and the instruction set they are in the position of starting grouond up on ARM isntruction set compatible design and/or (heavily) modifying the exiciting core design. As the poster above pointed out they must have a need that is not serviced by the exisiting SOC comunity.

The prime candidate (IMO) is something in the Xbox3. After being burned by not controlling the CPU and GPU designs chipset parts for the Xbox1 they had tighter control on the Xbox2 (360) with thier own 3 core Power PC design.

With Sony continuing to leaverage the cell co-processors maybe MS wants something similar. It is not too far fetched that the next gen xbox could be a 3+core power pc with ARM derived co-processors (like CELL).
The advantage is that compiler support is mature and developers are very familiar with ARM architecture so getting the most out of the cores would not be the steep learning curve that cell has had.
ARM cores take up very little space compared to modern Intel/AMD x86 chip designs and typically have small levels of cache. Could easily fit a 4-6 core power PC and 20+(?) ARM cores on a modern process comparable in size to existing Xbox2 CPU die.
Disclaimer : I own some ARM shares.

Re:Already done, thank you very much (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33005838)

Since MS doesn't seem like a logical entrant into the chip fab market, this development means that they have some kind of design demand up their sleeve that the market for commodity SoCs hasn't delivered....

BSOD in silicone?

Re:Already done, thank you very much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33006052)

No, you'd want need to visit a Japanese trade show, for that.

Re:Already done, thank you very much (1, Informative)

tsa (15680) | about 4 years ago | (#33004590)

But those are all hardware companies... oh, wait... But I did score a Funny! :)

Re:Already done, thank you very much (1)

firewood (41230) | about 4 years ago | (#33006318)

The ARM core is so widely licensed that it would be hard to find a modern handheld device that does NOT contain one.

Not only handhelds. There's a good chance your Wintel laptop or desktop PC might have one hidden in its disk controller or wifi chipset as well.

Re:Embrace... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004462)

Personally I wish the best to Microsoft in this endeavor.

If they want to make a supremely good cpu to run their own embedded platforms, well.. I won't be buying one because I'd want to install Linux on it. It just wouldn't make too much sense to actually change it in ways that would make it completely incompatible with their compilers, since that would just be extra costs. I'm sure they just want o make it run Windows CE better, and possibly sell chips to phone manufacturers.

And as trends go, Microsoft seems to moving towards the good guy state, with their, slightly hopeless, attempts to improve their own platform design in ways that doesn't alienate the whole userbase of 'How do I start the computer?'.

Even more worrisome (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004322)

Is the soon to be announced licensing with And A Leg Technologies.

Re:Even more worrisome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004672)

Nah, they are going to license hammers, and make a new code-cleanup appliance.

Re:Even more worrisome (0)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | about 4 years ago | (#33004684)

How else are they going to get a head of the competition?

Re:Even more worrisome (1)

myocardialinfarction (1606123) | about 4 years ago | (#33005786)

If they could somehow merge the knowledge-base of ARSE and ELBOW it would be a boon.

Re:Even more worrisome (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | about 4 years ago | (#33005826)

My first-glance interpretation was quite a bit more unsettling: Microsoft Signs License With Amalgamated Regional Militia [wikipedia.org] .

What? Paranoid you say?

The iPad market is about more than just the CPU. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004362)

The CPU is in fact quite a minor part of the iPad. It is an Apple device, so the consumer's main focus will be on the affixed logo, and nothing but the logo. Frankly, Microsoft just doesn't have the right logo to appeal to the hipster/trustfund baby/neckbeard market that Apple has taken control of. No matter what CPU Microsoft uses, their devices won't be adopted by the iPad crowd as long as the logo isn't an Apple logo.

Re:The iPad market is about more than just the CPU (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004480)

I have seen the ipad in the wild, and the bottom line is the damn things work and work well. I personally do not want one because of the software stranglehold. The fact that there are a large number of people who love their Apple i%DEVICE% is very telling. I meet damn few people who feel that way about MS products. Most people who use MS tolerate it and choose it because they think it is an "MS world." I love my linux system, but that is for mostly intangible reasons that make it worth the frustrations.

The folks at Apple understand what people want and understand how people work. They are also unscrupulous. It is dangerous to underestimate the power of this combination. It is easy to ridicule them, but it is to our detriment if we do recognize it and confront it.

Re:The iPad market is about more than just the CPU (1)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about 4 years ago | (#33004600)

The fact that there are a large number of people who love their Apple i%DEVICE% is very telling. I meet damn few people who feel that way about MS products.

Obviously, because Apple is targeting niche market and also labels themselves to the hardware (and pay Intel etc so they can remove their logos).

In the normal PC world the cpu is from different manufacturer, the memory is, everything in the hardware is. People most likely just remembers something along the lines of their computer being a Dell-computer, because that's what the combination is sold at. Why would casual people be so interested about the single parts that make it? They just want to do their thing, that's it.

Re:The iPad market is about more than just the CPU (1)

Black-Man (198831) | about 4 years ago | (#33004676)

Microsoft is still lost since their tactic of "give the people something that kinda looks the same but cheaper" didn't work for the Zune.

So I guess... (2)

acnicklas (1740146) | about 4 years ago | (#33004366)

... I shouldn't ask if it'll be running Linux?

Re:So I guess... (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#33004388)

They are licensing ARM so that they will be able to implement the 'halt_and_catch_fire" instruction specifically for that event...

Re:So I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005902)

Undoubtedly that won't be the only event that causes it to do so. It's inevitable that some other noodle on the spaghetti plate will touch it.

XBox Portable? (2, Insightful)

Reilaos (1544173) | about 4 years ago | (#33004368)

The first two things that come to mind when putting Microsoft and ARM together are Windows Phone 7 Phones and portable gaming systems, not slate tablets and full-on consoles.

Re:XBox Portable? (1)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about 4 years ago | (#33004472)

It also doesn't make much sense for Microsoft to change the xbox architecture that much, since it has always been basically a PC and it has all the same systems like DirectX, .NET and the usual compatibility with Windows.

It would however make perfect sense for Windows Mobile.

Re:XBox Portable? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004562)

Yes because the NT kernel never ran on other architectures like Alpha ... right? Oh wait, it's you sopssa. Never mind, you are clueless.

Oh and perfect sense for Windows Mobile? That implies that MS has to build their own CPU. Yeah, that's why they are partnering with dog + world for WM7. Waste precious resources and time while they are already way behind in smartphone OSes for their own ARM based phone.

Keep up the clueless posts yo! Let's see how many retarded moderators mod your post to +5.

Re:XBox Portable? (4, Informative)

Tom9729 (1134127) | about 4 years ago | (#33004604)

Most (all?) Windows Mobile devices already run on ARM. Windows CE has supported ARM since 1997.

Re:XBox Portable? (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 years ago | (#33004722)

It also doesn't make much sense for Microsoft to change the xbox architecture that much, since it has always been basically a PC and it has all the same systems like DirectX, .NET and the usual compatibility with Windows.

I just had to check the calendar to make sure it wasn't 2001.

They abandoned the PC-like architecture with the 360. It now runs a PowerPC hybrid chip.

Re:XBox Portable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005240)

Xbox = x86
Xbox 360 = PowerPC
Xbox 720 = ARM

Re:XBox Portable? (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 4 years ago | (#33005450)

ARM processors are nowhere near as powerful as PPC or x86.It doesn't make sense for Microsoft to use them in a console.

Re:XBox Portable? (1)

eddy (18759) | about 4 years ago | (#33005846)

It doesn't make sense to use them as the MAIN CPU, no.

I could see ARM in a console, say for a low-power menu-mode, a bit like the 'instant on linux' found in some computers, or for having the console 'always on' downloading patches and what not.

Re:XBox Portable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005908)

It does if it supplements another processor in the console (or if their design is based on an array of ARM processors). It may not be as powerful, but it is highly efficient (in terms of energy consumption), and parallel processing negates almost all of the performance issues (when software is designed to take advantage of it, as a console's software would)

Re:XBox Portable? (1)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | about 4 years ago | (#33006010)

It also doesn't make much sense for Microsoft to change the xbox architecture that much, since it has always been basically a PC and it has all the same systems like DirectX, .NET and the usual compatibility with Windows.

It would however make perfect sense for Windows Mobile.

Maybe they are going for "x-box portable"

although if they just shrunk down the existing x-box design to hand-held proportions, they could advertise themselves as having the world's first hand-held gaming system/hotplate.

Re:XBox Portable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005040)

You mean, like PSP? Oh, the fun of chips overheating to 90C in your hands waits up ahead!

foray into nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004382)

this kin finally be a way for MS to kill the iphone ? no...

Intel's reaction (3, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 4 years ago | (#33004402)

I wonder what Intel's response is, especially since Microsoft is such a long-time partner. Apple went with A4, and here Microsoft is licensing ARM too. The emerging market is mobile computing, so what's the future for Intel? Surely, they can't live on x86 forever, and Atom currently isn't competitive with ARM when it comes to battery life.

Re:Intel's reaction (1)

DeadboltX (751907) | about 4 years ago | (#33004486)

Different processors for different applications.

It is difficult to stick a full sized car engine into a scaled down remote control car. It is difficult to move a full sized car with a scaled down remote control car engine.

Re:Intel's reaction (1)

doconnor (134648) | about 4 years ago | (#33004542)

That wouldn't be true if remote control car engine where doubling in power every 18 months.

Re:Intel's reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004580)

Get back to us when it can do what my car engine can do today... in about 15 years. We'll try to keep the laughter to a minimum.

Re:Intel's reaction (1)

SquarePixel (1851068) | about 4 years ago | (#33004518)

Future for Intel will be Microsoft's largest business area, desktop computers, just like now. I very much doubt that Microsoft is planning to change to ARM with Windows.

Re:Intel's reaction (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 4 years ago | (#33004566)

Intel already licenses the ARM architecture and uses it in their xScale line of processors

Currently Intel supplies compilers, but this Intel forum contains many complaints about performance under WinCE.

http://software.intel.com/en-us/forums/showthread.php?t=67843 [intel.com]

Seems, like MicroSoft decided to take things into their own hands

Re:Intel's reaction (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 4 years ago | (#33004642)

*cough* Xscale was sold to Marvell 4 years ago...

Re:Intel's reaction (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | about 4 years ago | (#33004766)

Thanks for the info, however;
"The acquisition was completed on November 9, 2006. Intel was expected to continue manufacturing XScale processors until Marvell secures other manufacturing facilities, and would continue manufacturing and selling the IXP and IOP processors, as they were not part of the deal.
The XScale effort at Intel was initiated by the purchase of the StrongARM division from Digital Equipment Corporation in 1998. Intel still holds an ARM license even after the sale of XScale."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XScale#Sale_of_PXA_processor_line [wikipedia.org]

It looks like Intel still owns intellectual property AND may even continue to manufacture them for Marvell.
This seems even more like MicroSoft taking control over a technology because their partner is not giving them what they want

Innovate? Nah, this is a control maneuver. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004412)

Microsoft just wants a relation$hip with ARM so they can influence them before a huge wave of low cost, linux friendly PC's, netbooks, you name it hits the market.

I think it's interesting how the article speculates about innovation when to a large extent Microsoft M&A's are aimed at stifling competition. Seriously, when is the last time MS came up with a new idea?

Re:Innovate? Nah, this is a control maneuver. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004468)

Yup, this proves it!
You can never fool a cynic!

Re:Innovate? Nah, this is a control maneuver. (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#33004538)

That's the smartest thing I've read today. And it'd be a hell of a negotiating tool against Intel, too. Meanwhile, the idea of Microsoft trying to do their own phone isn't all that far-fetched.

Re:Innovate? Nah, this is a control maneuver. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 4 years ago | (#33004814)

Your ignorance of the Microsoft Kin is forgiven, but only because it was a miserable failure.

Innovation? They do it all the time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004630)

Seriously, when is the last time MS came up with a new idea?

I went out to lunch with an MS software engineer a couple of weeks ago. He said that he wanted the ham sandwich. I said that I was considering the grilled cheese. He said it sounded good but had his heart set on the ham sandwich. After a brief pause he slammed his menu down and proudly blurted out, "Fuck it! I want a ham sandwich with cheese and grill the whole god-damned thing."

It took a short time for me to catch my breath, but I quickly saw the brilliance. Surely, it was the best idea to come out of Redmond since the quick turn around on the Vista service pack called "Windows 7."

Re:Innovate? Nah, this is a control maneuver. (1)

westlake (615356) | about 4 years ago | (#33004738)

Microsoft just wants a relation$hip with ARM so they can influence them before a huge wave of low cost, linux friendly PC's, netbooks, you name it hits the market.

----- and sink like a rock when they hit the shelves at Walmart.

Apple has re-discovered an old truth about the high-tech gadget - it sell best to folks with serious money to spend - so you might as well take them for whatever they are worth.

Re:Innovate? Nah, this is a control maneuver. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 years ago | (#33004824)

Seriously, when is the last time MS came up with a new idea?

Some of their brutal business practices were pretty inspired.

Pocket XBox, anyone? (3, Funny)

FreonTrip (694097) | about 4 years ago | (#33004436)

Any number of potential reasons exist for this license, but that's the one which bubbles to mind most readily.

In before the "What's that giant thing in your pocket?" "That's what she said!" engine gets warm.

Re:Pocket XBox, anyone? (1)

kg8484 (1755554) | about 4 years ago | (#33004674)

Doesn't seem likely to me. From what I can tell, the PSP was profitable for Sony, but it is being sorely beaten by the Nintendo DS series and now standalone portable video game sales are being cannibalized by smartphones. I would say that this is more likely to end up in a Zune phone and will be Microsoft's in-house alternative to nVidia's Tegra processors. I will chuckle if they contract AMD/ATI to do the graphics again, kind of like how they switched to ATI graphics when building the XBox 360 processor.

Re:Pocket XBox, anyone? (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#33005304)

Is that a fire in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

Re:Pocket XBox, anyone? (1)

FreonTrip (694097) | about 4 years ago | (#33005878)

"OW, OW! OH GOD, IT'S BOTH!"

Hmm... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#33004476)

I wonder what MS has in mind. You don't have to be an ARM licensee to use ARM chips in your designs. For large enough orders, there are already a number of outfits that will implement customized ARM SoCs with your choice of functional blocks, and either fab them or farm the design out to somebody else, on a variety of processes. For smaller orders, there are even more outfits who have ARM SoCs, in a variety of common configurations, in stock and ready to go. Lead times pretty much limited by Fedex for small orders, some weeks for big ones. Buying an actual license seems to indicate Serious Business of some sort.

Without any particular background in chip design, what does MS want to do that they couldn't do at off-the-shelf prices just by calling one of the existing ARM licensees and asking for a quote? For the sake of my faith in their executive team, they couldn't be doing this just because Apple is, could they?

What will it be? Massive arrays of power optimized ARMs supporting a CLR environment as the future of Windows Server technologies? Xbox720 is going to be ARM based with some sort of secret sauce?

Re:Hmm... (5, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | about 4 years ago | (#33004528)

"... ARMs supporting a CLR environment...."

Actually, that would be my guess: Microsoft wants to make an ARM chip that implements the Common Language Runtime in the microarchitecture, just as some ARM chips now implement the Java runtime in the microarchitecture. They may also want to add instructions to bring even more Trusted Platform Computing Model down into the ARM core.

They may also want to make an ARM core that implements a graphics accelerator more friendly to the Direct3D model (and less friendly to OpenGL ES) than is currently available.

Re:Hmm... (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 years ago | (#33004646)

Microsoft wants to make an ARM chip that implements the Common Language Runtime in the microarchitecture

The thought of Microsoft shipping code that they cannot patch later is at least somewhat amusing to me.

Re:Hmm... (1)

MasterOfMagic (151058) | about 4 years ago | (#33004950)

You do realize that ever since the Intel Pentium FDIV fiasco [wikipedia.org] that their processors allow you to patch the microcode [urbanmyth.org] , right? It would be silly to think that you couldn't do the same with an ARM chip, especially when it's tracking a moving target like the CLR.

Re:Hmm... (1)

hhedeshian (1343143) | about 4 years ago | (#33006204)

You do realize that ARM is RISC and doesn't need/use microcode. "To keep the design clean, simple and fast, the original ARM implementation was hardwired without microcode" (Wikipedia) and to my knowledge it still is. It would up the power requirements considerably because you would have to have additional translation logic. It would defeat the purpose of ARM.

(someone correct me if I'm wrong, though)

Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | about 4 years ago | (#33004796)

Fundamentally altering the ARM core logic at the level required to add CLR support (similar to the Java implementations) requires a license on a level that ARM does not give out. Only a handful of companies, Apple being one of them, hold the necessary license to do so (mostly the founding companies.)

Re:Hmm... (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 4 years ago | (#33004810)

I think that the CLR thing has more credence than some of the other suspicions. That type of chip is really something that only Microsoft would spearhead, and the fact is that I don't think MS would make a better chip than what it would cost to license it from others.

That said, a Desktop level performance ARM chip is something that hasn't been done yet, so maybe this is just an Xbox play.. It couldn't hurt their 'runs on all devices' initiative having two of their platforms sharing the same CPU architecture.

Re:Hmm... (3, Informative)

Brit_in_the_USA (936704) | about 4 years ago | (#33005924)

That said, a Desktop level performance ARM chip is something that hasn't been done yet,

It has been done. I used to own a RISC PC desktop with 200Mhz StrongARM CPU at the time x86 PC's were maxing out with 90MHz Pentium. Other than in FP applications it ran laps around the Intel chips of the time.
It is also worth noting the StrongARM was in a plastic package with no heatsink as it dispated so little heat.

Ultimately the platform stalled at this CPU achievement and Intel eventually caught up and surpassed (on the speed front anyway). I often wonder if (the lack of speed bumps to StrongARM for a very long time) had anything to do with Intel taking over the design/manufacture.

Re:Hmm... (1)

hackerjoe (159094) | about 4 years ago | (#33005610)

Interesting speculation but unlikely. The Java-specific mode (Jazelle) is deprecated; ARM's for a few years already been moving instead to a mode that supports CLR and JVM managed runtimes equally well, called ThumbEE, which is already in the newer Cortex A8-based smartphone chipsets:

ThumbEE in Jazelle article on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
Information on ThumbEE from the ARM tech docs [arm.com]

It's a much more elegant approach -- do all the easy transformations via JIT compilation to the existing native ARM instructions, and add a handful of extra instructions to speed up the expensive things you do all the time, like null pointer checks and array bounds tests.

Re:Hmm... (1)

joe_bruin (266648) | about 4 years ago | (#33005744)

They may also want to make an ARM core that implements a graphics accelerator more friendly to the Direct3D model (and less friendly to OpenGL ES) than is currently available.

The ARM core has nothing to do with graphics. The graphics accelerator is a discrete logic unit chosen by the SOC maker to integrate into the chip. This part uses the standard AHB/AXI (ARM Host Bus) interface. A major architecture license is not required to do this.

CLR acceleration, on the other hand, seems like a possibility. They could replace the Jazelle (Java) mode. More likely, though, they will extend the ARMv7 ThumbEE mode, which is designed for this sort of thing. Here's the synopsis of ThumbEE from the Cortex reference manual:

Thumb Execution Environment (ThumbEE) is a variant of the Thumb instruction set designed as a target for dynamically generated code. This is code that is compiled on the device, from a portable bytecode or other intermediate or native representation, either shortly before or during execution. ThumbEE provides support for Just-In-Time (JIT), Dynamic Adaptive Compilation (DAC) and Ahead-Of-Time (AOT) compilers, but cannot interwork freely with the ARM and Thumb instruction sets.

ThumbEE is particularly suited to languages that feature managed pointers and array types.

Re:Hmm... (2, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | about 4 years ago | (#33004656)

i'm betting on 5 things - 1-5 most likely to doubt

#1) and and most likely (as it has the highest chance to fail) - MS tries to make it's own hardware for it's Win7 phone OS so that they don't get the bad rap they did with windows mobile on phones that didn't have the hardware to run them

#2) they might be looking into using it for the next xBox - and at that point doing it in-house so they don't have to rely on IBM as they have in the past (them supporting IBM who is also being supported by Sony can make it seem like they are supporting the competition)

#3) they might be looking into using them for their next HPC platform - it is at least 3-5 years out which is a good lead time for them to design and refine a new way of using exiting ARM cores.

4#) maybe they want to design and test extensions to the ARM archt that they don't want to trust a partner with - once they refine them submit them back to ARM (think of it as custom extensions for either Win7/8 Phone OS or xbox OS or HPC OS)

#5) maybe they are rethinking their canning of the courier - and are rather going to embrace it and actually make it with a competitive chance.

I find it odd that in my mind the list 1-5 of most likely to doubt is inverse of what i think would work out best for them.. and would be happy to see them do. Maybe its All of the above and a slice of pie?

Re:Hmm... (1)

WagonWheelsRX8 (1282738) | about 4 years ago | (#33006432)

Actually, I think what is REALLY going on is MS doesn't actually have a plan for the ARM architecture. Instead, they figured they'd generate some buzz and a lot of speculation by licensing it. Then they'd cherry pick the best of the speculative ideas, and use them as their plans for ARM...

Xbox without the 360's heat problems (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33004536)

The 360's heat problems have pretty much been solved:
http://www.gofanboy.com/home/fanboy-features/3263-xbox-360-slim-beats-ps3-slim-in-heat-tests-multiple-times/

Microprocessors and Marvel? (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about 4 years ago | (#33004550)

They'll try to built a Ironman suit.

Re:Microprocessors and Marvel? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 years ago | (#33004746)

That's Marvell.

Re:Microprocessors and Marvel? (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about 4 years ago | (#33004820)

Oh, really? You can note that I forget one letter, but you can't understand irony.

Re:Microprocessors and Marvel? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 years ago | (#33004912)

I actually posted a self-reply whoosh just to be funny, and slashdot of course lost it. Dammit. Yes, I know you were being ironic. Sigh.

Yes, but... (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | about 4 years ago | (#33004678)

Was it the right or the left?

Windows phone (2, Interesting)

Local ID10T (790134) | about 4 years ago | (#33004698)

Speculation about Microsoft's intentions includes wondering whether the company is taking aim at the iPad, or perhaps looking to produce a next-generation Xbox without the 360's heat problems.

Seriously? Microsoft has been chasing the smartphone market for a while now, but keeps having performance issues. They want a custom designed chip for their next gen smartphone.

The reason is the PRICE (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#33004788)

It is pretty simple, if you wanna to sell 100-200 devices, then you just buy the ARM-CPU from another manufacturer. But if you wanna to sell 1-2 millions, then you will save a lot of money by simply buying the right to make the hardware and if you are good enough, even the right to change/modify it. From what i remember, the starting price for this scenario is $200k, which explains why there are so few companies willing to have this kind of agreement.

Microsoft is going to build their own machines now (1)

mrjatsun (543322) | about 4 years ago | (#33004872)

It's not surprising... A lot of things have been pointing to Microsoft building their own H/W in this space. HP canceling Slate and buying Palm. Dell going with Android. It makes a lot of sense for Microsoft to build their own ipod, ipad, and ARM based "netbook" like machines. If true, in the long run, I think this puts more pressure on Dell and HP.

ARM and HAND (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 years ago | (#33004962)

And possibly even a PEN.

ARM is going to end up in servers (1, Troll)

alen (225700) | about 4 years ago | (#33004992)

there is some company selling Atom CPU based servers and a lot of customers like them. Atom is just a Xeon with almost everything disabled due to manufacturing issues. Apple did a nice job with the A4 in terms of battery life and power consumption. MS will probably port Windows Server and other products to the architecture to keep VmWare and Linux at bay.

and with tech demos of Apache running on the iPhone any idiot will say that ARM will end up in servers soon with the big plus being you can customize it to your needs. just like Apple and Qualcomm did. with Intel you get a Xeon at $1500 each on average or a Xeon reject at $150. ARM CPU's cost a fraction of that even after R&D. and when you calculate the electricity savings it gets even better.

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 years ago | (#33005030)

P.S. same story as Nokia. they sold dumb phones at cost and smart phones to drive profits. apple is killing that model.

Intel sells i Core CPU's for branding and the profits are in the Xeons. All CPU's are manufactured as XEON's and binned when they are tested. ARM is about to demolish that model since it's dirt cheap to design and manufacture their CPU's.

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 4 years ago | (#33005344)

There are already supercomputers and servers based on POWER, MIPS and many other architectures. Broadly speaking, you can run open source operating systems on any architecture you like, or you can run closed systems on x86. Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do in this sense, but due to closed 3rd party applications, such versatility will never fly. Unless all the closed stuff is released as architecture-independent bytecode.

Atom is just a Xeon with almost everything disabled due to manufacturing issues.

I don't think this the case, they are probably completely different microarchitectures. For starters, Xeon has out-of-order execution while Atom is in-order only.

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 4 years ago | (#33005868)

Good point. If only Microsoft had spent the last decade investing major resources on a platform for developing architecture-independent bytecode.

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 4 years ago | (#33006226)

Good point. If only Microsoft had spent the last decade investing major resources on a platform for developing architecture-independent bytecode.

Then we only have to wait for all major 3rd party applications to be (re-)released in this form. Including games and other performance-sensitive applications.

Or, get stuck in another closed ecosystem, when Windows transitions from x86 to Microsoft's implementation of ARM ;)

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (1)

BLToday (1777712) | about 4 years ago | (#33005348)

Wait. Let's think about it for a second. If MS starts to optimize Windows Server for their own ARM processor, they're going to compete with their top customers (Dell, HP, etc.) Unless they start selling MS ARM to other computer makers, but now they're competing with Intel. They can probably win in a niche market fight (Xbox portable) but not going up against Intel, HP, and any real hardware guys. Plus, even if you have WinServer on ARM, the applications are still written for x86.

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 years ago | (#33005688)

Dell and HP started by supporting Linux, Android and Palm OS. Either Windows Server ends up running on ARM or Android/Palm server versions will. Wintel is starting to die

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 years ago | (#33005454)

Atom is just a Xeon with almost everything disabled due to manufacturing issues.

Uh, no it's not.

However, I agree that ARMs probably have a place in low-powered servers in the not too distant future.

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33006244)

Atom isn't even close to being "Xeon with almost everything disabled due to manufacturing issues" it's completely separate design, different core, different logic chipsets, it just happens to run the same x86 instruction set.

Re:ARM is going to end up in servers (2, Informative)

ovu (1410823) | about 4 years ago | (#33006502)

Atom is a Xeon with things disabled due to manufacturing issues?? Dude you are out of your element.

Atoms are manufactured in different facilities, designed by different teams, in a completely separate division of the company! Also, Xeons consume an order of magnitude more power than Atom.

And remember that the reason Intel dominates is due to manufacturing capability. Nobody can touch them. They do not have massive batches of defective chips being packaged and sold.

More vertically integrated? (1)

AmazinglySmooth (1668735) | about 4 years ago | (#33005156)

MS doesn't make PC's as far as I know. Maybe they have watched Apple be successful with their integrated hardware and software and want to duplicate their success.

Apple business copycat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33005200)

Looks like they are copying the Apple's way of doing business. Can't live on Windows and the Office Suite alone!

If Apple has it... (1)

zunipus (946278) | about 4 years ago | (#33005544)

Clone Apple. They have ARM. Microsoft must have ARM. Same old shite.

The NINTENDO DS (2, Insightful)

DeanCubed (814869) | about 4 years ago | (#33005590)

Both the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo DS used ARM7 and ARM9 chips. Now that Nintendo is using a different company from Japan to produce the architecture for the upcoming 3DS, perhaps Microsoft has decided to get into the handheld console race. I don't think this has anything to do with Apple or PC-related plans. This is the beginnings of X-Boy

Re:The NINTENDO DS (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 4 years ago | (#33006332)

The company from Japan they're using is for the graphics chip. As far as most people can see, they're still using ARM for the CPU.

Doesn't make any sense not to considering how well understood the architecture is for them.

Why do they have to have anything in mind? (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | about 4 years ago | (#33006102)

They don't really need a particular project in mind, they have the cash at hand. Maybe they just want the option in their back pocket so they aren't backed into a corner.

Extension of Xbox 360 IP Ownership Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33006310)

I believe that this is probably an Xbox 360 successor play by Microsoft. The original Xbox used a stock Celeron 733mhz CPU from Intel and a licensed Geforce 2 MX variant from Nvidia. MS learned from the original Xbox that it is not cost effective to license technology and continuously pay royalties on that tech per unit of hardware sold, particularly for graphics. For this reason, Nvidia was cut out of the design process for the Xbox 360.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox

When Microsoft developed the 360, they opted to custom design both the CPU and GPU. For the CPU (Xenon), Microsoft used technology from the IBM/Sony Cell project, which IBM was more than happy to sell them (lol at Sony). They chose to place 3 of the Cell PPC cores on a die, giving each their own VMX vector processing unit to make up for architectural deficiencies related to not having attached Cell-like DSP units. This is the only CPU of it's kind, Xenon is a Microsoft designed chip to which they own the IP.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenon_%28processor%29

The ATI GPU (Xenos) was also completely custom, being neither a R500 or an R600 part but something of a cross between the two architectural designs. It employed unified shaders well before the R600 architecture and featured a unique daughter die consisting of 10mb of DRAM used as a (very) fast intelligent framebuffer capable of performing 4x anti-aliasing on a per frame basis. This design allowed Microsoft to get "free" anti-aliasing, freeing up more graphics resources for other operations. Microsoft also owns the IP for the Xenos chip.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenos_%28graphics_chip%29

As much as everyone here enjoys ripping on Microsoft, (I am also guilty as charged) I believe the 360 is a far more elegant design chip-wise than the PS3 and better suited to actual gaming applications. Microsoft would not have purchased an ARM license if it were not worth the cost. As I don't see them stepping up to revolutionize the world of cellular phones, I can only assume that they are designing something completely new. It is likely a design far in excess of the capabilities of the ARM chips that other vendors are providing. If it's really true, if I'm right, then Microsoft could be developing a high-powered multi-core ARM chip for the next Xbox in order to eliminate all out-of-house CPU design expenses. I'm pretty excited to see what they come up with, since current low-power designs by other vendors are beginning to reach clocks of 2ghz with ease, a simple redesign could produce chips in the 3.5 - 4.5ghz range without much effort at all. (Comparative to starting from scratch, of course)

The question is really, how well would a high-clock multi-core (likely 4 or more) ARM chip perform? If the cost to performance ratio is even close to what can be seen from an Intel or AMD solution, I think my suspicions will have been validated.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...