ARM, after strongly hinting at a move into the notebook market with its "laptop class" Cortex-A76 CPU, has this week released a roadmap detailing how it plans to take on the likes on Intel and AMD, with two new, high-performance chips — 7nm and 5nm respectively — slated for 2019 and 2020.
The Cortex-A76 is already going toe-to-toe with Intel's mobile chips, according to ARM VP for Client Line of Business Nandan Nayampally, with the next two chips — the 7nm "Deimos" in 2019 and 5nm-7nm "Hercules" in 2020 — pushing things even further.
According to Nayampally, the Cortex-A76 can hit "3.0GHz and up to 3.3GHz within power envelopes around half that of today's mass-market x86 processors".
However, while the post features a SPECint2006 graph comparing the A76 to Intel's Core i5-7300, it is otherwise light on performance details, to the point that one Reddit user, Creshal, tore into the announcement:
- SPECint is singlethreaded, which makes the whole comparison horse shit to begin with
- The TDP of the eighteen months old, already obsolete Intel SoC includes multiple cores, memory controller, north- and southbridge, and a massive GPU, and a power hungry PCIe controller, and other stuff I forgot
- There's no indication what configuration is being compared, so all TDP comparisons can be safely ignored
- SPECint is a really awful benchmark and easily gamed
- By the time that CPU will be released, the Kaby Lake's replacement will have been replaced with an even faster chip
Along with the above scepticism, ARM faces another hurdle — making inroads in a market dominated by x86-64. This isn't as big a problem as it first seems, with Windows 10 on ARM being a very real thing.
Still, I'd be very surprised if ARM hits it out of the park when the first batch of Cortex-based laptops arrive; there's a lot more to a notebook than just the processor. Take graphics performance, which is becoming more and more relevant as video codecs increase in complexity and VR picks up speed. Heck, even Intel is planning a discrete GPU for 2020.
ARM, the incredibly successful developer of CPU designs, appears to be getting a little nervous about an open-source rival that's gaining traction. At the end of June, ARM launched a website outlining why it's better than its competitor's offerings, and it quickly blew up in its face.