When it comes to desktops and laptops I have constantly said that I feel ARM is at a major disadvantage. The main reason I’ve mentioned regularly is that x86 has a full library of existing applications and drivers, something ARM doesn’t have. How about in the tablet world though? Does x86 have any major worth?
This is certainly a loaded question. Traditionally, tablets that have run on x86 processors have been much heavier, hotter running, and have come with much shorter battery lives than their ARM-based cousins running Android and iOS.
According to Computerworld, Intel is working with ten different Chinese and global companies to get Windows 8-based Intel tablets running and out the door later this year and into 2013. You can bet the farm on the fact that Lenovo is one of these, as they are the first partner Intel has ever had when it comes to Intel-based smartphones, with their Lenovo K800 handset.
Intel isn’t going to give up on the mobile world just yet it seems, and Medfield (which runs in the K800) might be part of the difference this time around for the company. As Intel’s Atom architecture continues to evolve, it is becoming better at power consumption while still retaining at least a slight speed advantage against ARM (though this is diminishing quickly it seems).
If Intel could create tablets that manage the same size as ARM competitors and have close to the same battery capacity, could Intel finally have a real chance against ARM?
Honestly, when it comes to Android, I doubt it. When it comes to Windows 8 tablets though? X86 could make a real difference, for the same reason x86 is key against ARM in the laptop/desktop world, drivers and x86 Windows software.
There is one big difference though, x86 applications generally don’t work as well with touch-screens, so are x86 applications needed with a tablet? Not for every kind of user out there, but for specific highly mobile niches and even, possibly, games? There might be some reasons why this would work.
Strategy games probably wouldn’t work all that badly with touch, though many kind of action games would need a separate controller to really make them worthwhile. For those that work for companies that have specific software designed around x86 Windows, a tablet that can run this is a wonderful thing to have.
Many users now struggle with the less-than-great touch experience in Windows 7 because they have a real need for x86 application in a touch device. These users will be more than happy to see improved x86 tablets from Intel and even AMD.
Honestly, if I decided to ever invest in a tablet myself, I’d probably get a Windows 8-based x86 tablet myself. While not all x86 programs will work great with touch, you can likely hook up a Windows 8 tablet to an external monitor through HDMI and use USB for keyboards/mice giving you a highly mobile tablet that can also double as a lower-end desktop PC from time to time, as needed.
Sounds like a win-win. The catch, again, will have a lot to do with whether x86 can finally manage similar weight, feel, power consumption and heat output to ARM counterparts.
What do you think, if you get a Windows 8 tablet will it be x86 or ARM?
Share your thoughts below.