Miguel de Icaza, Microsoft MVP

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Sun Jan 17 10:59:06 GMT 2010

On Sun, Jan 17, 2010 at 4:46 AM, Michael Haney <thezorch at gmail.com> wrote:
> Linux will have a better shot at mainstream success on platforms that
> Micro$oft doesn't seem interested in supporting, or cannot support
> without loosing lots of money because they'll have to seriously lower
> prices to be competitive.  And, we all know how Micro$oft just loves
> have to compete fairly.  Either they somehow get the upper hand,
> underhandedly of course, or they don't bother.  Its their usual modus
> operandi.

> Such a platform is like the Nvidia Tegra 2, which was shown at CES
> 2010 and looks VERY impressive.  We're talking a power-sipping dual
> core CPU with more muscle than the Intel Atom, and its Cortex A9
> based.  A multi-touch Tegra 2 powered tablet shown there was able to
> do something most Atom netbooks struggle to do.   And that is, playing
> H.264 HD video at 1080p without skipping!

The thing is, it's hardware video decode in the chipset that is doing
that. It doesn't mean that the *processor* is more powerful than an
x86 - indeed, it's distinctly *less* powerful. Furthermore, dual cores
do not help, as very little software usefully scales on >1 core.

>  Most Atom netbooks are
> coupled with crappy Intel GMA graphics cards, but Tegra 2's are
> coupled with Geforce cards so they can do some impressive 2D and 3D
> video.

This is true. But how many people want or need that on a netbook?

>  On top of that, the Intel Atom suck up battery life while the
> Tegra 2 and other ARM based CPUs use only a fraction of that.


> Its this platform that will dominate the newly emerging tablet market.

Possibly. I would not dare to make such confident predictions, myself,
and I am known in other circles as an arrogant & dogmatic writer.

>  Atom based tablets, you know there will be a few, won't be able to
> compete.  They won't have the battery life of an ARM based tablet and
> running Windows 7 on them will increase the power drain and raise the
> cost.

... And make them able to run hundreds of thousands of bits of 3rd
party software, much of it a great deal more polished than anything
FOSS has to offer...

>  The lower priced tablets will succeed and only ARM based ones
> with Linux will be able to deliver that kind of price point.  Unless
> Micro$oft is willing to give away Windows 7 dirt cheap or FREE to
> tablet makers

Which if it came to the crunch it will happily do. It's done it before.

In the late '90s, the unit cost to big purchasers like Gateway and
Dell was US$9 for Windows + Office. This is what put a lot of small PC
builders out of business, and make corporates always buy from bigger
vendors who bundled Office & saved them a mint in licence fees.

> I don't see them making much headway against Linux in
> tablets.

I really hope you're right, but I would not bet on it myself.

ARM is a great platform; I've owned & used ARM kit, including
full-spec desktop computers, since 1989 or so. I am very fond of it.

But since before ARM appeared, x86 had more software - orders of
magnitude more. And since the early 1990s, x86 has consistently been
more powerful, now to the point where it is orders of magnitude more
powerful but also scales down until it is nearly as cheap and nearly
as electricity-frugal as ARM - and it gets smaller, cheaper &
thriftier-with-the-juice constantly.

Do not underestimate it.

Also, since Intel is nearly as dirty-dealing a company as Microsoft.
Not quite; that would be rather hard, only the big petrochemicals
companies approach that, or the big finance houses if you take a moral
rather than legal view.

Liam Proven • Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/liamproven
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