HanishKVC’s General Blog zone

December 6, 2009

The Bad and the Good, ARM Netbook will be WORSE wrt Open source

Filed under: General,OpenSource,technology — hanishkvc @ 5:14 pm
A debate has been going on in the Linux community wrt Intel, GMA500 (Poulsbo, PowerVR) and the pathetic support for the same. Some felt (or may feel) that the potential ARM based netbooks could solve their Problem, NOW truth couldn’t be more contrasting than this, so I posted a response on a related and good article requesting Intel to come to their senses on Linux Journal. I am publishing my response to “that article and the comments it generated“, here
**** My comment FROM Linux Journal site ****
On December 6th, 2009 hanishkvc (not verified) says:
Hi All,
To summarise things as it stand today wrt Netbooks/UMPC/MID market and TRUE Open source and Intel Vs ARM.
a) Processor
* Arm is Good at Power consumption but bit low on Performance
* Intel is good at performance but bit low on Power compared to Arm levels
But given the tradeoffs, it is to be expected. Intel Atom is slowly moving towards the Arm territory with respect to Power AND Arm is slowly moving towards the Intel territory wrt Performance wrt the Cortex AX cores relative to Mobile platforms like Netbooks.
BUT coming to FREE AVAILIBILITY of DOCUMENTATION of their Chips and its associated peripherals, Intel is slightly better than ARM Inc (Where is the up to date ARMARM document ARM Inc wrt latest Arm versions ???, SO TRUE OpenSource People PLEASE DONT ASSUME that Arm is better and one should switch from Intel to Arm (what a person mentioned above), you cann’t be more wrong, wrt what we want ultimately.
b) Core Chipset (All IO in General)
Keeping power consumption in mind, today Arm based SOCs are better integrated and flexible wrt all io modules be it ram, graphics, video, 3d, audio, expansion (serial,parallel buses), core support logics (Timers, IntCntr), storage cards AND finally additional integrated coprocessors.
Intel was stuck with bad companion chipset combinations for such low power requirement products like Netbook (i.e provided you want Netbook to be full day computing) so they had to come out with a low power companion chipset for Atom (Be it N series or Z series) AND the FIRST step in that direction from Intel is what US15 (Poulsbo) is and that in turn uses GMA500 (PowerVR). They have still bit more distance to travel to match ARM SOCs here, but atleast it is a start.
Hopefull either
* they will be able to get support for GMA500 added to Mainstream linux thro either a regularly updated binary driver or better a open source driver or best case being open up the documentation for it.
* OR replace PowerVR 3D+Video core with their own in the future generation of the Atom companion chipsets or the Integrated CPU+GPU soc (the current one is still PowerVR).
DONT FORGET THAT Majority of the ARM SOCs out their use the PowerVR 3D + Proprietry (Dependent on who makes the SOC) Video accelerators. So A ARM based Netbook will be AS BAD OR WORSE THAN the current Intel Netbook platform AS FAR AS TRUE OPEN SOURCE people are concerned.
OR LUCKY for all, Imagination Opens up the documentation or releases a Open source driver for 2D, 3D and Video logic of their logic.
**** END of my comment from Linux Journal site ****
Update: Rather I forgot one more important related point while posting at LJ, it is -> If we go further and look at free documentation for the Arm based SOC, then things will turn out to be much worse in general (there are exceptions – where certain SOC vendors have provided good documentation for the basic SOC part, but even they leave out the powerful features of their SOC from documenting freely) so we still have some distance to go before we can say Open source and ARM based Netbooks in the same breadth.

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