This is a particular type of processor whose layout of electronic components ? are we talking about architecture? Allows a small size. ARM stands for Advanced Risk Machine. Originally, ARM’s A meant Acorn, the name of the company that first equipped a computer with an ARM processor in 1987. Since then, the ARM architecture has met with an unabated success, especially in recent years. ARM processors can be found in all recent smartphones: iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S, as well as in Google’s iPad, Nokia N97 or Nexus One. But ARM Ltd does not manufacture the processors. She designs the architectures of the processors, their designs in a way. It is the customers who, after purchasing the licenses, produce the processors. For example, Samsung makes an ARM processor for its high-end phones (Samsung Galaxy S and Wave), based on the 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 architecture. The Apple A4 processor, which equips the iPhone 4 and iPad, uses the same Cortex-A8 architecture. These ” small ” processors are so successful that they evolve very quickly: Samsung has already announced the replacement of Cortex-A8; this one answers to the name of Cortex-A9 and integrates two cores, as in the PC. As for the Cortex-A15, which should be available in about 20 months, we already know that it will be a four-core processor at 2.5 GHz and low power! Such a processor should have performance similar to that of a very high-end laptop, whereas it is expected to be embedded in a phone only a few millimeters thick. If the first foray of ARM architecture in the world of the PC is not the announced energy revolution, the potential is there. And could rebound the cards … if performance moves in the right direction.
We have just tested the HP Envy X2, a hybrid PC with the look of Microsoft Surface. What’s exceptional? Its processor: no Intel or AMD, the machine is part of the very first generation of PC under Windows 10 running with a processor of… smartphone. At the heart of the Envyx2 is indeed a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, the same chip that powered most of the high-end Android devices launched in 2017. A phone chip in a computer, is that serious? Does it work? “Yes” and ” yes ” are the two answers to these questions, but there are several downsides.
Performance for the first time, rather disappointing. Not too serious, given the youth of the platform and the need to recompile the programs for this architecture. Good point: even old Windows applications work through a clever emulation set up by Microsoft, for a drop (again !) performance. But the next version of the platform – Snapdragon 850, a version derived from the 845 of current phones-should give a boost.
The other, more annoying, the limitation is the autonomy: if in ideal conditions the device holds the road (controlled brightness, adapted program, Video mode only), in real life one does not feel any real benefit compared to the current champions. Finally, it is necessary to highlight the choice of HP to start with a machine with high-end finishes, with a high price of range but performances below the entry of a range of Intel.
Far from being a waste of time, this foray into ARM architecture in the world of Windows PCs is interesting: it opens Windows 10 to another type of processor – who said anything about phones turning into computers? – And the stability and compatibility found during the test suggest the possibility of another route for the PC. At the expense of traditional x86 architecture?