Notebook makers mull Intel and ARM hybrids

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Notebook makers mull Intel and ARM hybrids

It's no secret that ARM has wanted to get one up on Intel in the netbook market, but it seems now that makers of little laptops might be willing to accommodate, with talk of hybrid ARM/Intel netbooks just around the corner.

A Hybrid netbook including both an Intel CPU and an ARM-based processor would be a major coup for the British chip firm and would also give punters something of an ideal balance of performance and power saving in a single system.

Lower power, more energy efficient ARM processors would be able to provide great access to the Internet and applications like Email, without the system having to actually boot up completely, thereby saving a ton of battery life. The Intel processor would kick in for more power-intensive apps, meaning that theoretically, battery life could be extended to around 15 hours.

The hybrid system is a similar notion to the hybrid graphics model being used by several notebook makers recently, whereby Intel’s integrated graphics work alongside more powerful discrete GPUs, switching between themselves for various tasks to maximise energy savings vs performance.

Back in August, Dell announced a sort of cross-breed between a smartphone using a low-voltage ARM sub-processor and a notebook. But while the product may be great for things like e-mail and Internet browsing, it still isn’t as convenient as a notebook, especially in terms of the ease of data input.

The problem is that a hybrid notebook would probably have to use a dual-OS, something not exactly ideal in terms of usability. But ARM is pushing ahead on its software development, hoping to release Ubuntu Linux and Adobe Flash 10 for ARM-based processors at some point next year.

So notebooks could be developing split personalities very soon indeed. (c) 2010 Incisive Media

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