Anand Lal Shimpi:1
Looking at the offscreen results, we finally get what we came here for. Intel’s HD 4000 manages to deliver 3x the performance of the PowerVR SGX 554MP4, obviously at a much higher power consumption level as well. The Ivy Bridge CPU used in Surface Pro carries a 17W TDP, and it’s likely that the A6X used in the iPad 4 is somewhere south of 5W. The big question here is how quickly Intel can scale its power down vs. how quickly can the ARM guys scale their performance up. Claiming ARM (and its partners) can’t build high performance hardware is just as inaccurate as saying that Intel can’t build low power hardware. Both camps simply chose different optimization points on the power/performance curve, and both are presently working towards building what they don’t have. The real debate isn’t whether or not each side is capable of being faster or lower power, but which side will get there first, reliably and with a good business model.
First off, the fact that there is an article comparing an iPad/Nexus with a full Intel-powered Windows PC, and no one thinks this is weird, is pretty amazing.
Second off, this shows how much trouble Intel is in.
Here’s the thing: what matters in tech is being “good enough.” Once a product is good enough on a particular vector, than any additional gains on that vector are likely to be unappreciated by consumers and lead to over-serving.2
The problem for Intel is that their chip’s performance has long since passed good enough. The fact their processor wipes the floor with the same ARM architecture that on absolute terms owns gaming is evidence of that fact. Customers don’t care about what Intel has for sell.
ARM, on the other hand, focused on power. And ARM chips are still not good enough. In fact, they will arguably never be good enough (who doesn’t want week-long battery life, or, per the link earlier today, more efficient data centers?). What they will be is far ahead of x86.
Anand, along with Jon Stokes, taught me more than anyone how computers work back in the 90s. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. ↩
I explain many of these ideas in a paper I wrote several years ago about Apple and the Innovator’s Dilemma ↩