ARM chief dismisses Atom threat

Warren East, chief executive of British chip design firm ARM, has rubbished claims that Intel's Atom chips could possibly prove any competition to his company in the burgeoning tablet market.

East, who leads the company that pretty much dominates the embedded, smartphone, and tablet CPU markets with its low-power RISC-based chip designs, has dismissed Intel chief Paul Otellini's attempts to launch a competitive processor in those markets as "just not good enough."

East's comments came during an interview with The Financial Times, in which he stated that, while Intel may get some foolish OEMs to launch a small number of Atom-based tablets next year, "Atom designs are just not good enough in terms of power consumption."

Further, East went on to claim that "Intel knows this," suggesting that the company's efforts in that market are more a case of smoke and mirrors than a real threat to ARM's dominance.

While Intel's x86-compatible Atom processor line has proven hugely successful in the netbook market, where the relatively-low power draw coupled with the ability to run a full-blooded version of Microsoft Windows (XP!) make it an obvious choice, it's a harder sell in the tablet sector - especially now that manufacturers are opting for Android, QNX, and iOS, all of which are optimised for ARM processors.

With research outfit Gartner estimating that 54 million tablets will ship next year, Intel really has to up its game if it truly wants a slice of that particular pie.