Report: ARM-powered netbooks coming in June

Today, netbooks and Intel’s Atom processors are almost synonymous, and netbook makers who eschew the Atom typically pick x86 alternatives from Via or Intel itself. Well, that may change in a few months. DigiTimes reports that Qualcomm and Freescale are cooking up ARM-based netbooks for a launch at the Computex trade show in early June.

Quoting "sources at netbook makers," DigiTimes says Freescale will show a system powered by its i.MX51 system-on-a-chip and manufactured by Asus spin-off Pegatron Technology. EE Times reported in January that the i.MX51 processor itself "sells for less than $20" and should enable sub-$200 netbooks.

Similarly, Qualcomm will reportedly show a netbook based on its Snapdragon SoC built by contract manufacturer Wistron. And there’s more where that came from. Systems based on Nvidia’s Tegra SoCs will follow later—and MSI "has reportedly expressed interest in developing Tegra-based products." Asus and MSI are also considering whether to produce netbooks based on the Qualcomm offering.

Comments closed
    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    So does ARM-powered mean these have a hand-crank battery charger standard?

    • Rza79
    • 11 years ago

    I don’t understand why people are spending so much attention to the nVidia Tegra. Even TechReport has a dedicated article about it. Is it because it’s nVidia or what? I mean there are way more powerfull chips out there already.
    Just to name a couple:
    – Freescale i.MX515 (1Ghz Cortex-A8 + some GPU)
    – TI OMAP3640 (1Ghz Cortex-A8 + SGX)
    – Qualcomm Snapdragon (1Ghz Scorpion CPU + Imageon)

    All three will run circles around the Tegra since it’s still ARM11 based.
    The only thing going for the Tegra 650 is the 1080p decode capability that the others don’t have. I can’t see how that can be major selling point on a netbook. (Qualcomm is releasing new Snapdragon chips that do support full 1080p)
    Fire up Linux and Tegra will be two times slower, if not more.

    • John59
    • 11 years ago

    Talking about ARM , I saw this netbook and thought some of you guys might be interested to see something a little different to the ATOM systems currently available. This netbook is completly silent, has a 10- 15 hours battery life… ARM based, touch screen, accelerometer, completly silent and can also be used as a tablet by removing the detachable keyboard! Just what I always wanted…. role on the Ubuntu! Web comics here I come! I think It starts from $299… time for me to sell the EEE901 I purchased. Times they are a changing 😉

    §[< http://osnews.com/story/21075/Want_Touch_Book< ]§ §[<http://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/<]§ :P Seriously if this is an indication of what we can expect with ARM netbooks then bring them on!

    • PetMiceRnice
    • 11 years ago

    And here I thought ARM stood for Adjustable Rate Mortgage, which gives me nightmares of what subprime mortgages did to get the downwards spiral of the stock markets of the world started.

      • dmitriylm
      • 11 years ago

      Talk about completely irrelevant. How about the effect these mobile machines could have on the situation in Darfur?

        • willyolio
        • 11 years ago

        nah, let’s talk about how ARM-Atom competition will fuel Jean-Claude Van Damme’s return to fame.

      • wingless
      • 11 years ago

      +1 !!!! Why is it that non-x86 CPUs seem a helluva lot more interesting and capable than the ones we currently use? Lets just ditch AMD and Intel altogether and go with TI, Sun, IBM, and the others.

        • 5150
        • 11 years ago

        Won’t someone please think of the shareholders!?

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        Actually, they’re not. They’re lower-power and better-integrated, but from a sheer computing perspective they’re not more capable.

        And to the extent you think SoCs are interesting in themselves, Intel has Moorestown to keep you in the x86 camp. Of course they’re still lugging the legacy x86 front end around, which is both a blessing (binary compatibility with all those apps!) and a curse (ARM will always be lower power). But from a software perspective, Intel’s AVX extensions, and possibly Larrabee, are at least as interesting as anything on offer from the ARM side of things.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Since these will all be running Linux of various flavors (I assume) this is going to be the OS first real shot to get into the hands of a lot of consumers in one big go (modulo the recession, which of course is causing people to shift from “real” notebooks to netbooks, but is also suppressing demand altogether). It will be interesting to see how many people are inconvenienced vs how many people don’t even notice (I’ve got a web browser, what else do I need?)

    Somebody should put a nice UI front-end on the apt-get repository and call it an App Store… “Hey, look, it’s a store where everything is /[

      • tfp
      • 11 years ago

      I don’t see why MSFT couldn’t spin a build, WM runs on ARM.

        • Bombadil
        • 11 years ago

        Yeah, they already exist . I even owned one with both an ARM type Intel processor /[

      • ludi
      • 11 years ago

      I dunno. Did you ever take note of how many Eee 701s got converted to Windows or flipped on eBay? Can’t get to the Digitimes article because the site refuses to talk past the filter at work, but it sounds like these will be nothing more amazing than an oversized smartphone, possibly without the phone. At that point, it doesn’t matter if the CPU can decode 720p video on a quarter of a watt, because it can’t run iTunes.

      In general, smartphones are not large enough to use as a full computer, so people get by with limited browser use, maybe some notepad-esque activities, and short email messages. Once it takes on a notebook form factor, the lack (or limited) cross-platform compatibility will become an issue IMO.

        • Hattig
        • 11 years ago

        What netbooks need is to be able to act as a media device that syncs with a primary computer.

        i.e., the Linux media player software is fine, but I don’t want my netbook to be my music repository, I want my home computer to manage that. I just want to sync (over the network) with it.

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        True enough — and yeah, if they show up looking like netbooks there are going to be some unhappy people that buy them only to discover something they want to run doesn’t (and they don’t know how to find the Linux equivalent).

        But there’s an intermediate form-factor, which is the “unpocketable iPhone” aka netbook slate. This seems to be the form factor Apple is chasing, if the stories of a big buy of 10″ touch screens are to be believed. That form factor doesn’t imply the capabilities you expect with something that looks like a notebook. Of course it also doesn’t imply the portability you get with an iPod touch or a smart phone. The real question is how desirable that form factor is (even with the Apple imprimatur) in reality. For something to use as a large personal media player or to surf the net while you’re watching TV or otherwise not fully engaged in “computing” it might be fine, and at $200 it might be cheap enough to get picked up for that purpose as an adjunct to real notebooks rather than replacements for them.

          • Trymor
          • 11 years ago

          That is the device I have been waiting for. The ‘Coffee Table’ PC. At $200, it is definitely justifiable . It can be used for these functions:

          A quick lookup device for the .com address you just saw on TV.

          A universal remote.

          A home automation controller.

          A VOIP Speaker Phone.

          An instant messager that can be carried anywhere in the house or patio.

          A (free) texting platform for in and around the house for the heavy texters.

          A portable media plaer that continues playing whatever you were just watching on TV

          I could go on, but you get the point.

      • adisor19
      • 11 years ago

      Why would this be bad news for Apple ?!

      Apple already has OS X running on ARM on the iPhone and if you take a look at the recent rumors, Apple is likely to release a netbook of their own in H2 of this year. Overall, I’d say Apple will once again have the OS advantage.

      Adi

        • UberGerbil
        • 11 years ago

        But they won’t have a price advantage. If Apple was alone in the market, or even first to market, they’d be a lot better off. But given the limited utility of these things, price is going to count for a lot. For what these will do, the Apple alternative is more likely to be an iPod Touch or even an iPhone, because they’ll be closer price-wise.

          • adisor19
          • 11 years ago

          Apple never really had the price advantage to begin with. Pple don’t buy the iPhone for the price. They buy it for features, ease of user, and coolness factor. At least that’s my impression.

          Adi

            • Trymor
            • 11 years ago

            You got that right. If apple combines the right *nix libraries, apps and such, wraps it all up into the right slick interface, markets it correctly and keeps it under $500, they will have a hit.

            • green
            • 11 years ago

            they won’t have it under $500

            my guess is, given their recent offerings with nvidia stuff, is a netbook table (aka ipod touch pro) based on the tegra platform
            price would be ~$700

            • Hattig
            • 11 years ago

            Depends on how far Apple has got with PA Semi’s alleged ARM based designs.

            Or maybe they’ll swallow their pride and use that decent low power PowerPC chip that PA Semi had made before Apple bought them. I could see a 45nm variant of that making Atom look silly.

            • UberGerbil
            • 11 years ago

            Actually, it probably has nothing to do with that — that will only affect their profit margins (and probably less than you think, since other things like the screen likely will be a bigger piece of the BOM). They won’t price it to compete with the iPhone. It’ll be cheaper than the cheapest “real” Macbook and more expensive than the most expensive iPhone.

            And that’s going to create the interesting situation where the non-Apple netbooks (or netslates) will be overlapping the iPhone, while Apple once again stakes out the “you pay more for the Apple Experience” higher ground. It will be interesting to see what shakes out to be favored by consumers in that $200-$800 range of products

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This