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Linux Hardware

Linus: '2016 Will Be the Year of the ARM Laptop' (softpedia.com) 182

jones_supa writes: Linus Torvalds took the stage at LinuxCon Europe in Dublin, Ireland, and talked about a number of things, including security and the future for Linux on ARM hardware. There is nothing that will blow your mind, but there are a couple of interesting statements nonetheless. Chromebooks are slowly taking over the world, and a large number of those Chromebooks are powered by ARM processors. "I'm happy to see that ARM is making progress. One of these days, I will actually have a machine with ARM. They said it would be this year, but maybe it'll be next year. 2016 will be the year of the ARM laptop," said Linus excitedly. He also explained that one of the problems now is actually finding people to maintain Linux. It's not a glorious job, and it usually entails answering emails seven days a week. Finding someone with the proper set of skills and the time to do this job is difficult.
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Linus: '2016 Will Be the Year of the ARM Laptop'

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  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @03:57PM (#50695421)

    Finally! The year of Linux on the laptop!

    • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Flavianoep ( 1404029 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:06PM (#50695491)
      You misread that.
      It's the year of ARM on laptop!
      • But what else would you run on it? ChromeOS, SteamOS, and andoid are the most popular choices and those are all linux distributions.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        True, and I'll bet my LEG on it.

      • Except this is retarded either way. Linux on netbooks? It has been done and saw a 400% higher return rate [laptopmag.com] than Windows on the same device, why? Simple people don't give a shit about the OS but they DO care about THEIR PROGRAMS. Their programs don't run? You might as well give them an Emu and tell them to do their computing on that for all the good it'll do 'em.

        As for ARM on laptops? Pick your test, you'll see that the BEST chips that ARM has to offer in 2015 cannot compete with the first gen C2D chips from

        • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Informative)

          by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @06:25PM (#50696231) Homepage

          Except this is retarded either way. Linux on netbooks? It has been done and saw a 400% higher return rate than Windows on the same device

          Thank you for the link to that article... from 2008. Of course, nothing has changed in the SEVEN YEARS since that article was written. Well, except for:

          1. Those were netbooks, which were Atom-based and crappy, regardless of the installed OS
          2. ChromeOS didn't even exist
          3. Android was in its infancy
          4. We're now talking about ARM machines with VERY capable GPUs
          5. The competition is no longer WinXP or 7, but Win8/10.

          • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Friday October 09, 2015 @07:47PM (#50696583) Journal

            1.- Its a laptop as far as users are concerned, in fact I never sold a single one at the shop where anybody called them anything but laptops. If you think users will "cut you a break" because its ARM? News Flash they don't know a CPU from a HDD, they WILL expect it to do every.single.thing. your average laptop in Walmart does? When it don't? Hello return desk.

            2.- Go look on your local CL under Chromebooks, News Flash they are already being dumped en masse because to steal a line from a former POTUS "Its the programs stupid!". People see a Chromebook, and again I cannot stress this enough users have no fucking clue what an OS is and all they know is "I use Google at home, it says it is from Google, so I can do everything I can do at home" and after a couple of weeks of finding out that is NOT the case? Hello Craigslist. I just looked on mine, they have a pile of 'em in the $70 range and most have been there awhile, know what that tells me? The users are treating them just as they treated those cheap tablets, they use it a few weeks, find it wanting, and get rid of it.

            3.-...Sigh, how hard is it to understand? YOU know what an OS is, know who don't? THE VAST MAJORITY OF CONSUMERS that is who! They aren't gonna know WTF an "Android" is because, and I bet my last fucking dollar damned near everyone of them will say "that is for cellphones" and is that a cellphone? Nope its a laptop and therefor should do what laptops should do which according to Joe and Jane is RUN WINDOWS PROGRAMS, when it don't? Hi return desk, I'd like to return this?

            4.-GPUs...Will these GPUs run all those Winhdows programs that Joe and Jane WILL expect it to run, because that IS what runs on the laptops at Walmart? No? Then nobody will have a single fuck to give, next!

            5.-Windows 10? Yeah that is why you are extra fucked as again Joe and Jane have not a single fuck to give about rumors of spying, data collection, all that shit means nothing, for fucks sake they blab their sex lives on FB! What they DO care about very much is Windows 10 LOOKS like Windows 7, and all their programs run on it just fine. Ya know what I do to Windows 8 PCs brought into the shop with users demanding I "fix it"? I slap in classic shell, voila! That'll be $50 and they hand it over with a big happy smile on their face because all they care about is the GUI and form factor and if its a laptop that LOOKS like Windows 7? Well they are just happy campers and Win 10? Looks like Windows 7.

            All of these points you are bringing up? Yeah its pretty damned obvious that you have NEVER worked retail or you would know that Joe user? He don't even know WTF those words even mean! An Operating System? CPU? GPU? What are those? If its a cellphone it should act like a cellphone, a laptop should act like a laptop, which means it should look and act like Windows. Mark my words, feel free to bookmark this post, when these flop I'll sure as hell be dropping links to this as a big giant TOLD YA SO because I have been working retail since the Shat sold Vic 20s with TJ Hooker hair and I KNOW how consumers think, and this? Ain't gonna work.

            • they WILL expect it to do every.single.thing.

              Yup. Indeed, they will want to do whatever they are used to do on an average laptop...
              (That, I agree with you).

              Nope its a laptop and therefor should do what laptops should do which according to Joe and Jane is RUN WINDOWS PROGRAMS, when it don't?

              And THAT is exactly where your argument completely falls appart.
              We're in 2015. Today's Joe and Jane don't give a fuck about installing windows programs. They barely know how to install stuff.
              (They mainly know how to click on "ok". They can click and the "Ok/Next" through someting they got in their mail. But, the concept of going to a website, downloading a SETUP.EXE and running it is a bit complica

              • Sorry, but no. You are using the classic "all you need is a browser" argument and all those tablets gathering dust (and being offered to me for pennies on the dollar) had a browser and guess what? Folks said DO NOT WANT as they ALL have SOME software they want to run.

                1.- Kids have games (won't work), 2.- Adults have kids (see 1), 3.- adults have things like printers and cameras, guess what they come with? If you said "Free Windows software folks like" you sir are correct! 4.- With more and more places havin

        • By your logic people should be dropping Androids and iPhones like radioactive waste to snatch up those sweet sweet Nokia Windows Phones.

          People understand that different programs run on different hardware now. I'm not saying that a pure Linux laptop wouldn't have perception problems, but they wouldn't be insurmountable either. Frankly the biggest sales cases for Linux laptops would be Governments and Schools anyway, and they have teams to train the users on new hardware.

        • ARM does scale.
          The problem isn't ARM in general.
          The problem is usually slow bus, slow ram, slow peripherals. Oh and old/slow ARM CPUs.
          Take high end 8 core Cortex A57 with high end RAM and a fast bus and it will do all things you do with a Core i3 and most things you do with a Core i5.
          The fact is there is very little performance ARM stuff in the market. When people get ARM they usually do because of massive cost advantages, which mean low performance implementations.
          Cortex has native JAVA acceleration for in

      • You misread that. It's the year of ARM on laptop!

        Not totally misread: while any x64 laptop would need Windows in order to be successful, that same software won't run under ARM. So while most Linux software would be available on the ARM, the same won't be true about Windows software, so stating that it would be the year of the ARM laptop is as good as saying that it would be the year of the Linux laptop. Particularly given that the most popular Linux laptop is the Chromebook, whereas Apple probably won't migrate their Macbook Airs to the A9.

        However, I

  • I don't think so. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gizmo2199 ( 458329 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @03:59PM (#50695445) Homepage

    I had a Chromebook with an Exynos 5 and wasn't that great, in addition to the hoops I had to jump through to install Ubuntu on it.
    I traded it in for a Celeron Cromebook, which is faster. Much better experience, plus the i915 graphics driver is much more mature and has video acceleration support.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Most importantly, the i915 graphics driver is actually fucking open source!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kaiser423 ( 828989 )
      The Nvidia Tegra X1 and other modern chips that came out late 2015 areo n par with most of the Celerons and even the i3's and i5's in some instances. It definitely might be the first year of true x86 peer laptops from ARM, but maybe another year or two until they nail everything and start taking significant market share (that's a big IF -- they have to nail everything, while Intel continues to miss a step or two).
    • At least of you have an x86 Chromebook, you can always load Windows 10 on it if ChromeOS doesn't work out for you.
      • Re:I don't think so. (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@wor[ ]et ['f.n' in gap]> on Friday October 09, 2015 @05:54PM (#50696109)

        At least of you have an x86 Chromebook, you can always load Windows 10 on it if ChromeOS doesn't work out for you.

        Depends on the bootloader. Some just ship with coreboot and that's it - you can't boot Windows that way. Windows requires either BIOS or EFI to boot, and most Chromebooks ship with neither.

        Plus, chomebooks are a pain if you want to use them as anything other than chromeos - the security means you get prompted every boot (including reboots) that your chromebook is compromised. You have to hit a key combination (Ctrl-D?) to tell it you intentionally want to boot developer mode. Miss the opportunity and it goes into the recovery screen asking for you to insert a USB recovery key.

        Yes, this is intentional. Chromebooks are supposed ot be super secure devices immune to malware. So the bootloader checks the kernel and filesystem it's about to run to make sure they're original.

      • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @07:32PM (#50696523) Homepage

        "At least of you have an x86 Chromebook, you can always load Windows 10 on it if ChromeOS doesn't work out for you."

        That's like buying a recliner and saying: "At least if it turns out not to be very comfortable, I can take a shit in it!

      • How so? I thought to run anything but stock Chrome OS, you had to put it into developer mode. And every time someone turns the machine on in developer mode, it encourages the user to accidentally wipe the whole hard drive by pressing space to reinstall stock Chrome OS.

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      The Celeron version was also newer and more expensive.

      Kind of an unfair comparison.

    • by kuzb ( 724081 )

      So you went from something that was terrible to something else that was only slightly less terrible? I'm having a hard time feeling inspired by your story.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:07PM (#50695497)

    Of course the stream of abuse probably doesn't help...

  • Chromebooks will stay with Atom. They're cheap, efficient enough for laptops, and perform well. Plus manufacturers can use the same base hardware for Chromebooks and cheap Windows laptops if they stick with Atom. The closest thing to "Year of ARM Laptop" will be the Surface clones running android Android.

    • Re:No. It won't be (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:16PM (#50695547)
      There is some speculation that Apple will eventually ditch Intel and start using their own ARM chips at some point in the future. I don't think they'll do it next year, but I'm willing to bet that they'll have a non iOS product using an ARM SoC by 2020. Remember that before they went to Intel, Mac OS used IBM's POWER architecture and that they had an internal build of Mac OS that ran on x86 in development for years before it was ever released. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see that they were doing the same thing with ARM.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I would be fucking amazed if Apple hasn't had an ARM desktop/laptop for a while now internally.

      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        And Microsoft has an ARM version of the NT Kernel. The problem is never the OS, its the fact that the software for x86 can't run on ARM. So no Apple won't have an ARM laptop till they have the programs to run on it. Does Adobe have ARM versions of their offerings?
        • I think the hold up is that ARM needs to be comparable in terms of computing power to Intel. Right now ARM's great as a low power platform (though Intel is seriously catching up) but Chromebooks are a very conspicuous case where ARMs are used in an environment they're almost never seen in.

          I don't think the problem is the ABI. Apple has solved that three times before, 68K to PowerPC, and PowerPC to ix86 and ix86-64. The solutions weren't beautiful, but they worked. And the PowerPC to two different Intel

          • Re:No. It won't be (Score:4, Insightful)

            by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <[plugwash] [at] [p10link.net]> on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:59PM (#50695809) Homepage

            I think the hold up is that ARM needs to be comparable in terms of computing power to Intel.

            I don't think "comparable" is sufficient. I think that to switch an OS where people primerally use propeitary native code to a new incompatible CPU architecture the new processors have to be substantially more powerful to offset the performance cost of the emulation.

            I find it unlikely that ARM will ever make a processor that is substantially more powerful than a regular desktop/laptop intel chip.

            • That's not how Apple development works. You code to their API using their dev tools and their compiler, and they will take care of it for you.

              It sounds wild, but look at their history.

              Apps built on Cocoa only needed a recompile to run on the new CPU arch when they switched to x86. Carbon-based apps could be a little more involved because it was their older API.

              Yes, they had Rosetta, but that was only to translate unsupported legacy applications.

              Actually, their whole migration to x86 impressed me more than t

              • Apple will do a lot for the developer, provided the developer is still around to do the recompile. I've acquired lots of Mac applications over the years that I can't use today, and which were never available for the newer systems.

          • When Apple changed from 68K to PowerPC and from PowerPC to x86 there was a large jump in CPU performance each time. This allowed for the overhead of emulation without performance suffering too much. That performance jump doesn't exist now. In the best case ARM keeps up with the lowest end Intel chips, and Apple doesn't use the lowest end. ARM simply does not have the CPU grunt to emulate x86 without a massive performance hit.
          • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @05:23PM (#50695921) Journal

            With our Chromebook, we've found that there are certain tasks that you want to do on a little 10 inch notebook, and certain tasks you don't. On a small laptop, a processor good enough for YouTube and Netflix is good enough. You don't want to run Visual Studio on a 10 inch device, so there's no need for a Core i7.

              Obviously, it doesn't matter to you that a supercomputer is faster than your desktop, if your desktop is fast enough. Similarly , if an ARM is fast enough for the things you do on a small laptop, it doesn't matter whether Intel offers a more capable processor or not - if the ARM suits your needs, that's enough.

          • The PowerPC was significantly more powerful than the 68K line, and I believe the Intel chips were significantly more powerful than PowerPC when they switched over. Moving up in power is complicated, since Apple insists on a smooth transition. Moving down in power would have many more problems.

          • by smash ( 1351 )
            ARM needs to be BETTER than intel in terms of processing per watt. Much better. because intel can run all the legacy software out there and ARM can't. If it is even close, intel will win by default.
        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          I had a 4 processor ARM workstastion with NT. it was the most unstable piece of shit ever made. Windows NT for ARM was so half assed it barely ran, but it had an advantage, it was mostly hacker proof and served as a gateway to our SCADA system back then. Virus proof, hacker proof for the most part as the only break in we had they kept trying to run X86 executables on it. after that we used a single direction ethernet cable to make it completely hacker proof. Yes, 100% hacker proof. the best hackers o

        • And Microsoft has an ARM version of the NT Kernel. The problem is never the OS, its the fact that the software for x86 can't run on ARM

          And apparently nobody has ever ported a compiler to the ARM platform?

          This legacy crap of x86 is tedious ... people have been cross-compiling software for decades.

          It's just the people who slavishly can't do anything not x86 (Microsoft) who keep us tethered to this.

          I'm pretty sure Apple could port a lot of their own software relatively quickly. Again, this is something people

          • And Microsoft has an ARM version of the NT Kernel. The problem is never the OS, its the fact that the software for x86 can't run on ARM

            And apparently nobody has ever ported a compiler to the ARM platform?

            It appears that it's harder than it looks. Even Microsoft never got around to porting Visual Studio to Windows RT, an operating system based on NT for ARM architecture. And the legacy APIs on which free compilers such as MinGW (GCC for Windows) rely are restricted on Windows RT. There isn't even a concept of "current working directory", for cricket's sake.

        • If Adobe rewrites their CC apps for WinRT from Win32 they would semi-automatically pick up ARM support. But now that Microsoft is offering Win32 through the Windows Store they'll probably never move over to WinRT except on their mobile apps. Microsoft *should* have thrown $100m at Adobe and said "get this Win32 ARM compiler that we used to create Microsoft Office and port Photoshop" at the launch of Surface RT. That would have been an enormous coup.

          It's rumored the Surface Phone will be x86 and run Wi

        • Apple have had more experience than most doing processor transitions. 68000 -> PowerPC -> X86.

          The same transition techniques of fat binaries (or fat app bundles) and emulation can still apply.

          But this time they have another tool in their armoury. The Mac App Store. It means that when the user buys an ARM Mac, provided developers have compiled a new version, they'll simply install all their Mac App Store bought software in one go, ready to go as ARM native.

          It'd have to be a very, very good reason to g

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually I believe we'll see exactly the opposite.

        Arm has a grossly inferior instructions-per-watt performance next to Intel processors. The fact that Apple had to take a design team in house to find a chip that suited their needs does not speak well of the existing Arm chip vendors.

        I can't imagine seeing an arm version of OSX any time soon.

        And the Intel mobile chips are improving by leaps and bounds every iteration. I i firmly believe there's an internal iOS build for x64.

      • Oh yeah, and if that happens they'll also tell all the world again and again that ARM processors are faster than Intel processors because of their advanced "super-computer" Altivec instruction set...

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      And nobody will buy them. There is a buttload of cheap china windows 8 surface tablet clone out there that are cheap, and they run linux very well and easily. so nobody in their right mind would buy a arm based android tablet. you want to stick with something that is far morepower and power sippy like what all the current android tablets use.

  • >Would I say, "the ARM laptop is a clear and present danger to your free time?" Hell, no, I wouldn't! What do you mean I just said it?

    -Linus Torvalds, 2016

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:15PM (#50695545)
    Hmm... could the fact that Linux maintainers keep quitting because they get tired of dealing with assholes have something to do with the problem that it's hard to find people to maintain Linux?
    • by cide1 ( 126814 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:51PM (#50695771) Homepage

      Yes, that could be a major reason why. I have been creating and supporting board support packages for Linux on ARM for 7 years. The number of public posts I have made to open forums can be counted on one hand for exactly this reason.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Being successful means being an ass.
      This is Bosses 101.
      You don't become a billionaire being nice to people.

      Linux would get nowhere if everyone was always nice to each other.
      The whole Linux ecosystem is very specifically asses to each other, which is what helped it thrive in to so many distributions.
      Disagreements lead to forks lead to new ideas and innovation.

      OS development isn't for pushovers and crybabies. They can go become generic software developer for that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 09, 2015 @05:41PM (#50696031)

      What maintainers have quit? If you're thinking of that girl who quit, she wasn't a kernel maintainer, she just maintained some USB3 chipset driver thing. The other story about that guy who left in a huff was because he was trying to jam in unnecessary BSD features into the kernel after earlier trying to dump userland features into the kernel and Linus told him to talk a flying leap after he persisted.

      Neither were maintainers. The just had kernel patches they wanted landed. If they were maintainers, they wouldn't need to submit patches.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You salty bitch. Let's look at the full quote shall we?

      On maintainer teams:

      We’re getting lots of contributors, but we have more trouble finding maintainers. Probably because the maintainer’s job is to read emails seven days a week. Forever. That’s why we’re pushing for maintainer teams as much as possible. It lessens the steps to becoming a maintainer if you’re not the only one.

      The reason its hard to find maintainers isn't because of imaginary abuse to your fee fees, but because maintaining code is pretty much the most boring and least glamorous part of being a developer. You usually have to take over code that someone else wrote, trying to fix bugs while not introducing regressions and still supporting hardware that's ancient, but still in use in Peruvian ISP's. It's often thankless and burnout can be quite common especially

    • by smash ( 1351 )
      Could also be because they're too busy updating drivers in the kernel rather than coding to an API and keeping that shit out of mainline.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    BWAHAHAHHAH bwahahha bwhahahah BWAHHAH

  • That way lots of stuff could be farmed out to other people without the actual kernel people even needing to know about it.

  • I see no reason not to trust this one.
  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:26PM (#50695619)

    Almost all cellphones have an ARM-based CPU. Only a handful have an x86 CPU.

  • Perhaps eliminating profanity and insults on mailing lists and in submission reviews would be a good place to start?

    Answer emails seven days a week filled with personal insults and profanity vs. a coding gig that with great pay, professional environment and a sane work week.

    It's entirely possible to have code review with no profanity and insults, and have good code come out of it. Keep the review about the code and how it can be improved, and help each other out, since tomorrow it's going to be their code o

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sexconker ( 1179573 )

      Like we're going to listen to a 6-digit UID noob on fucking Slashdot for advice on how to run our shit.

      If you can't commit to the hours required then perhaps you should seek out another hobby. And honestly, if you knew what you were doing you wouldn't be dealing with emails 7 days a week or being hit with "personal insults". Further, those "insults" ARE about the code, in your case they happen to be about the shitty fucking code you keep submitting.

      I'm Linus Torvalds, fuck you.

      P.S. Why are we losing devel

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        "Like we're going to listen to a 6-digit UID noob on fucking Slashdot for advice on how to run our shit."

        I trust him more than a 7 digit N00b that has a potty mouth.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The issues about working with assholes aside, I suspect the life of a maintainer is difficult, not because it is too stressful, but because there isn't a good way to rotate the burden across people and time. Maintainers take on this enormous burden (and love it..for a while), and then they get burnt out. But then what? Is there an exit strategy? Do they train their successor? Is there a retirement home for maintainers? Can they come out of retirement and contribute? (perhaps at a lower level).


    • In the real world, you go to work doing shit you don't want to do 90% of the time, but you do it because you like money.
      The problem for Linux is people can get a better job elsewhere - less shitty work, less shitty working conditions, and better pay.

      Just treat it like the job that it is.

  • I can't see people going for ARM in a laptop unless the laptop is significantly cheaper. Giving up the ability to run x86 software is a big problem for something as expensive as a laptop. Plus, most people expect a lot more from a laptop than they do from a tablet. Does ARM support USB 3 at full speed? Can you hook up an SSD and have it run at full speed? Can you get gigabit ethernet running at full speed. Can the RAM be upgraded using standard DDR 3 or 4 memory sticks?

    • I installed Linux on my (really my wifes) Chromebook, dual boot. It turns out we never ever boot it to Linux. ChromeOS (aka the browser) does everything we want to do with it. We mostly view regular web sites, YouTube, and use Google Docs.

      It won't run Visual Studio, but it turns out you don't WANT to run Visual Studio on a 10 inch screen. Everything we would want to do on a little Chromebook works fine without needing any x86-specific software.

  • So 2016 will be the year of the ARM laptop, but there will be no Linux developers around to help maintain it. Does this mean Linux reached an apex point of mass that it can no longer sustain? That's like falling 2 feet from the finish line in a marathon because as you ran you got fatter.
  • And Here's Why (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TR NS ( 4242885 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @04:53PM (#50695785)
  • I concur from experience - arm devices like the various Odroids are already here and great fun to use.

  • by kuzb ( 724081 )

    It'll be the year of the same grand claims that do not produce any real results.

  • by hajile ( 2457040 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @05:39PM (#50696029)

    Looking at the latest in the ARM landscape, we have Apple A9, Qualcomm Kryo, ARM A57, ARM A72, and AMD A12. We can probably expect a small jump in Apple's performance next year along with a second revision of Kryo, but nothing competitive with Intel. A57 is being dropped for the fixed A72 since Apple screwed over ARM (tl;dr Apple shipped a new architecture in 2 years while ARM took almost 4 years for an inferior product -- everyone in the industry knows that design to shipping a new architecture is 4-5 years indicating either ARM screwed over all their non-apple partners (and themselves) by giving Apple a head start or Apple forced ARM to adopt a new ISA when they'd already had a couple years to work on int). Of all these architectures, I think only A72, AMD's A57 implementation, and AMD's A12 are worth focusing on.

    A72 is supposedly close to the performance of Intel's core M processors, but I'm willing to bet that the default A72 can't actually compete with Skylake's wide dispatch, SMT, and vector units. The biggest question in this area isn't actually the CPU so much as all the "uncore" parts surrounding it. Even if it could have these things in theory, the companies controlling most of the patents in this area aren't using the A72 (AMD, Intel, IBM, Oracle, etc).

    AMD's first generation of ARM processor (launching next year) is an A57 server part, but is probably going to be faster than most A72s in practice because it can be manufactured on a high-performance (rather than bulk) fab process and will have faster buses, faster memory, much larger caches, and even some parts of the core (like the branch predictor) may well be replaced with better systems while AMD's reworking the entire architecture for the new fab. This chip will probably be competitive in the low-power server market, but most likely won't be aimed at anything mobile.

    Not much is known about AMD's A12, but for the first time, an ARM company seems to be moving into the higher-performance mobile segment. AMD failed with bulldozer (and has taken the heat for beating that dead horse for the past few years), but they at least had the sense to hire Jim Keller to help them make a couple new, next-gen architectures. While AMD has money troubles, it's in the intellectual property sweet spot to be able to put together a competitive chip. This is the chip I think Linus is wanting, but it's been pushed to 2017.

    The complete unknown is Intel. They bought DEC and StrongARM was along for the ride, but they sold it in '97. They then made XScale only to sell it to Marvell in '06. I find it hard to believe that Intel's not experimenting with ARM design again. Even if they could make x86 compete in the low-end (atom has been a failure in that regard), convincing companies to switch will probably prove impossible as the current situation with lots of competing CPU providers works to their fiscal advantage. Apple won't be giving up the freedom to make their own chips (nor will Samsung). That said, I don't think we'll be seeing an Intel ARM chip before 2018-19.

    tl;dr -- the current chips can't compete with Intel. The ones that can don't launch until 2017 or later.

    • by hajile ( 2457040 )

      I forgot to mention Nvidia's Denver core. They dropped it in favor of A57 and I don't think we'll be seeing it again for a while. The original reason for making it seemed to be for x86 emulation (literally the next generation of transmeta), but their lawsuit settlement with Intel sunk that ship leaving them to repurpose the architecture for ARM. I like the transmeta idea, but like bulldozer it seems a little less good in practice at present. I think we'll see something similar return in a few years, but for

  • 2011 was the year of the ARM Linux laptop.

    You missed it by that much!

  • Garter says there'll be 7.2 million chrome books sold in 2015. That's well below Windows Phone sales numbers and if anyone claimed win phone was taking over the world they'd be locked away. Worse, 70% of those sales are in the education market where they're just used as locked down web browsers which is fine but no kid uses it in the classroom and thinks "wow, I have to ask for one of these for Xmas".

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday October 09, 2015 @07:39PM (#50696547) Journal

    It's the netbook argument all over again -- most people's use case for laptops is web and email, and it doesn't really matter what processor or OS the laptop is running as long as it works with most websites and email sends and receives ok. There are assumptions there -- that video and other resources used by websites work correctly -- and there's room for some specialized apps like Netflix, but that's pretty much it.

    So Linux on ARM as a laptop? Sure. And it'll almost certainly be more reliable, run faster on equivalent hardware, and meet most people's needs who own laptops. There's no technical reason this couldn't happen.

    The reason it won't happen is that there's this ninety billion dollar company and this other one hundred eighty billion dollar company that both have a vested interest in this not happening. And they're really good (at least so far) at making sure it doesn't happen.

  • He also explained that one of the problems now is actually finding people to maintain Linux.

    Linus would have a much easier job finding great kernel maintainers if he was civil, objective, patient and kind on the mailing lists, rather than critical, cynical, foul-mouthed, insulting and belligerent.

  • "He also explained that one of the problems now is actually finding people to maintain Linux"

    Gee, if only you weren't such an asshole, Linus, that problem would've been a non-issue TEN YEARS AGO.

  • I'm looking for an ARM laptop:

    • Display: ~36cm, matte, resolution 1440x900 or greater
    • RAM: 4 GB or more
    • Battery life: 6+ hours of light desktop use with WiFi
    • Firmware: the main firmware and all drivers must be 100% free as in freedom

    Does this exist?

  • ...of Linus lamenting that it's hard to find kernel maintainers? Wonder why that might be [reddit.com]...

"Oh what wouldn't I give to be spat at in the face..." -- a prisoner in "Life of Brian"