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ARM to gain a quarter of notebook market by 2015

Market watchers at IHS iSuppli reckon Intel's 30-year domination of the PC chip marker is crumbling.

Uptake of rival, non-x86 ARM processors is 'set to soar in the coming years' the component industry tracking outfit predicts suggesting that up to a quarter of all notebook PCs made in 2015 will be powered by ARM chips.

Microsoft's promised ARM-enabled Windows 8 OS will help put the ARM cat amongst Intel's pigeons, iSuppli's analysts feel. Having a scratch around their crystal balls, the soothsayers suggest ARM-based systems will account for 22.9 per cent of global notebook PC unit shipments in 2015, up from just three per cent in 2012. Shipments will reach 74 million ARM notebooks in 2015, compared to 7.6 million in 2012, iSupply said.

The X86 architecture has dominated the PC market since 1981 according to principal analyst Matthew Wilkins. "However, the days of X86's unchallenged domination are coming to an end as Windows 8 opens the door for the use of the ARM processor, which already has achieved enormous popularity in the mobile phone and tablet worlds," he said.

Microsoft confirmed at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that Windows 8 would work with ARM-based system on chip (SoC) designs, breaking the Wintel alliance asunder. ARM's power-consumption advantages and the fact its chip designs are built by many different firms will help it break Intel's - and fellow x86er AMD's - grip on the notebook market.

"ARM is well-suited for value notebooks, where performance isn't a key criterion for buyers," Wilkins said. "Value notebook buyers are looking for basic systems that balance an affordable price with reasonable performance. ARM processors deliver acceptable performance at a very low cost, along with unrivalled power efficiency."