If you wanted proof that Intel and ARM architecture licensees will soon be in direct competition with each other, there's plenty of ammo handy at this year's CES. A number of prominent companies have announced multimedia-centric products based around ARM CPUs, including NVIDIA, Marvell, ZiiLabs (a branch of Creative), and NXP Semiconductor. The devices themselves will target a range of customer needs and feature sets; this seems to indicate that an increasing number of manufacturers believe ARM-based products are capable of filling a variety of roles.
When we spoke to ARM
last fall, the company confirmed that it's long-term plan was to design a series of increasingly powerful Cortex-branded processors that would compete in MIDs, smartbooks, netbooks, and, given time, even the laptop/desktop market. The ARM-related announcements coming out of CES this week are noteworthy because of the types
of devices being announced. Smooth 1080P playback, gaming capabilities, and video post-processing are some of the features we've seen manufacturers mention so far and it's still early in the show.
The ZiiLabs Digital Home Platform: Now with extra cowbell.
The specific products announced thus far include Marvell's Plug Computer
, ZiiLab's SiVO
Digital Home Platform, NVIDIA's Tegra
2 (NV will obviously provide its own video hardware), and a new set-top hub
from NXP Semiconductor. If ARM begins growing its share of multimedia content devices, it could run smack into Intel as early as this year. Last fall, Intel debuted its Sodaville
system-on-a-chip (SoC), claiming that the chip would usher in a new era of rich IPTV content and consumer interaction. Sodaville is based on Intel's Atom processor and the CPU manufacturer isn't likely to feel much like sharing a market space it's hoping to define.