A number of the biggest names in enterprise computing are reportedly “exploring” integrating RISC based ARM processors into some of their server and PC lines, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News.
The Mercury News says that HP and Dell — which count for approximately one third of Intel’s sales — are considering using processors in some of their devices that are based on ARM architecture. This comes a few short weeks after Microsoft’s, a putative partner of Intel’s, announcement that its upcoming Surface tablet will be powered by an ARM chip.
Apple, which used ARM chips in their iDevices, is also courting ARM to power an upcoming line of Macbooks.
“It’s starting to get interesting,” Mike Feibus of TechKnowledge Strategies said to the Mercury News. “Everything that we sort of knew and took for granted is being thrown out the window.”
Mercury Research analyst Dean McCarron echoed Mr. Feibus’ sentiment when talking to the Mercury News, speculating that the current explorations of ARM architecture by traditional Intel enterprise customers could only be the beginning.
“What we’re looking at right now are toe-in-the-water kinds of experiments,” Mr. Feibus said. “But for Intel, the stage is being set for some potential market-share erosion.”
With the explosive growth of smartphones and tablets during the last five years — which are almost entirely ARM powered — ARM has seen something of a renaissance. It has gone from an obscure firm sitting on the sidelines of the market, to being the centerpiece of growth: sales of smartphones and tablets are expected to grow by 39 percent and 98 percent, respectively, compared to 2011 while growth of PC sales is expected to come in at a mere 5 percent.
Intel, for their part, seem to remain calm in the face of what could be a tectonic shift in the sector.
“Our view when working with our customers is to build the most compelling products with the best hardware and software, rather than worry about what our competitors may or may not bring to market,” Intel spokesperson Jon Carvill said.