ARM: netbooks now offer laptop-like performance
British chip designer ARM claims Nvidia’s new Tegra 2 system-on-a-chip is so powerful that it rivals traditional laptops in terms of performance.
In an exclusive briefing with ARM at CES in Las Vegas, the company showed PC Pro a Foxconn-manufactured netbook running the newly-announced Tegra 2 platform, which is built on ARM’s dual-core Cortex A9 CPU.
The Foxconn machine flawlessly cut through tasks that have been previously beyond netbooks’ capabilities, such as 1080p HD video playback, 3D photo slideshows and Cover Flow-style music menus. ARM’s marketing manager Jeff Chu described it as “laptop-like performance”.
When asked whether Tegra 2 and the Cortex A9 processor – which has the capability to expand to quad core – poses a threat to Intel’s Core processors, Chu replied: “anything is possible at this time”.
New class of devices
Chu claims the increased mobile processing and graphics power will lead to a whole raft of new devices that sit between smartphones and traditional laptops. “It basically enables differentiation across the board,” he claimed. “There’s enough business travellers out there to make a device just for them [for instance]. There’s room for more devices out there.”
“Form factors are becoming fashion statements,” he added. “It’s the personalisation of computing.”
The way new hardware is marketed could also change, Chu predicts. “Traditionally we’ve classed things by form factor [i.e. laptop, tablet etc],” Chu said. “Perhaps we should start classifying by user profile.”