ARM vs x86 : How 2012 Is An Inflexion Point For Intel

It's mind boggling to think that by the end of 2012, one ARM licensee, Apple, could potentially ship more mobile processors than the entire x86 ecosystem including AMD, Intel and VIA according to a report by analyst firm Instat.

The phenomenal growth of the iPad and the iPhone is what is powering that growth as far as Apple is concerned and, if rumours are to be believed, Intel could be hit with another whammy if Apple decides to switch its MacBook Air - and perhaps its entire portfolio - to its own Apple Ax processors in the future, depriving Intel of a few more million units sold.

2012 could be the year where Intel bets its future on mobile with Medfield spearheading its drive to come up with more competitive product lines against that the Hydra-esque ARM.

With tablet sales hitting a massive 325 million units by 2015 according to Gartner, this form factor, could well surpass the PC market in units and Intel may well end up powering only a tiny fraction of these.

Worse though, ARM-based devices are getting more powerful and ARM partners more ambitious. A number of them are already considering desktop and server chips which would put them squarely on Intel's turf.

Windows 8, the rise of the App and the surge in performance of ARM-based system on chips means that Intel will face even bigger competition in its traditional markets from the likes of TI, Qualcomm and Samsung.