Ok guys, you probably know where this is going. Although a lot of us gerbils are probably half-expecting that there will be an announcement from AMD about a new big x86 core in the works to succeed the ill-fated Bulldozer architecture, let's face it: the chances of that happening are about as likely as you or me winning the lottery. And with Intel being left unchallenged when it comes to the world's most prevalent ISA used in serious, productivity computing, it could mean a dark age of computing is on the horizon. Pricier chips? Highly possible. Absence of choice? No doubt. What now?
ARM may have a bigger installed base out there but honestly, what can you do with an ARM-powered device? Play Candy Crush? Make a call using Viber? Email, perhaps? Good. Those are cool. But what if you wanna do some serious, hard-core gaming on an ARM device? Or transcode video? Or perhaps do some serious photo-editing? Can existing ARM computers do those without giving you a slideshow or taking forever? Is there an ARM computer out there that can run games that are as compute-intensive as, say, Skyrim, Titanfall, or the like? And no, this isn't about microservers (which haven't even begun to appear in any considerable volume). Tying a thousand cores together is one thing, but you know you can only do so much with that.
So when it comes to the desktop, if the industry wants to stop Intel from hogging the entire market all to itself they need to band together and promote an alternative hardware+software ecosystem. It will be painful, oh yes, but going forward I think it's necessary. It's kinda like consoles. Before the PS2, backwards compatibility between console generations is practically unheard of (no, don't cite the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis as examples), or at least weren't very popular. If you wanna play your old NES games you try to keep your NES console alive for as long as you can because your SNES as sure as heck won't play them. So with the PC, perhaps if some industry bigwigs such as Samsung and Nvidia could come up with big ARM cores and someone like Microsoft renews its efforts on an ARM-supporting OS, the industry can slowly migrate to those while we try to keep our x86 machines alive for as long as possible to run our existing apps. I say Microsoft because it's hard enough to pull the industry in one direction, it's almost impossible to do so when a bunch of groups try their hand and fragment the ecosystem even more the way Linux distros are these days. And of course, having a coherent design and development team under one leadership would probably make the OS better instead of programmers littered all over the planet talking to each other via YM and meeting once or thrice a year. I'm digressing a little bit but sorry guys, I know a lot of you swear by Linux but in my view, if Linux can't even get its act together on an already established hardware ecosystem (I'm referring to desktops) imagine the mess it would create on an all-new hardware platform that itself is still trying to get its pieces together and evolve into maturity.
As time goes on, more and more apps will come out for these ARM desktops and the CPUs themselves will become more and more powerful as design teams step up their game. ARM itself can put out bigger cores that put energy efficiency in the back seat for once and focus on performance. As time goes on, assuming ARM doesn't stab the whole industry's back, you can buy motherboards that could probably support a common CPU socket. Restored competition, restored freedom of choice. Of course, we're not limited to ARM. Other ISAs will do just fine as well and I'd be happy to go with MIPS, PowerPC, even SPARC, but ARM seems to have the best chances as many companies already have experience building ARM devices and many devs have already written ARM apps. As for cost, I've read somewhere that it takes roughly $300 million and 5-7 years to develop a big x86 core, and about $30 million and a few months to do a small ARM core. $300 million. That's peanuts for Samsung and Nvidia. Heck, even AMD can probably borrow some more oil money to do it.
Can you guys see this happening? Would you like to see this happen? I don't mind plugging an ARM or SPARC CPU on an Asus motherboard as long as it means more freedom of choice and more market competition.
NEC V20 > AMD Am386DX-40 > AMD Am486DX2-66 > Intel Pentium-200 > Cyrix 6x86MX-PR233 > AMD K6-2/450 > AMD Athlon 800 > Intel Pentium 4 2.8C > AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800 > AMD Phenom II X3 720 > AMD FX-8350 > Zen?