Sunday, February 1, 2009

Netbook Processors and Operating Systems for 2009-2010

Relevant posts
Netbooks/mini laptops represent now a significant part of the overall IT market, million unit of EEE PC, Aspire One, Samsung NC10 and MSI Wind were sold in weeks.
2009 2010 Netbook Operating Systems and Processors: ARM vs Atom vs Via Nano, Windows vs Linux vs AndroidThe netbook race started and in the next 6months to one year we'll see new processors and I bet also the first Android netbooks. The figure shows a possible scenario of operating systems and processors used in netbooks for 2009-2010.

1) Netbook processors
The vast majority of netbooks shipped today are equipped with Intel Atom processor, VIA C7 and Celeron netbooks are almost not shipped anymore.
A lot is moving in the netbook processors segment: we already saw netbooks mounting a MIPS processor, the first VIA Nano netbooks are coming in weeks and a bunch of ARM based netbooks are under development (see below). Voices say that also Apple is developing an own processor (ARM based).

Available Netbook Processors
  • Intel Celeron, Atom, Core
  • AMD Geode
  • VIA Nano, C7
  • Ingenic JZ4740 (MIPS based)
Netbook Processors 2009-2010
  • x86 compatible: Intel Atom (single and dual core), Intel Core, VIA Nano (single and dual core), AMD Neo, Godson 3 (?)
  • ARM based: Qualcomm Snapdragon, Freescale i.MX515, ZiiLabs ZMS-05, Apple (?)
  • MIPS based: Ingenic JZ4740, Godson 3(?)
To be noted that Godson 3 processor is built on top of MIPS cores however implements x86 compatibility.

2) Netbook operating systems
While Microsoft Windows well supports x86 compatible processors, ARM and MIPS based processors aren't supported by Windows XP/Vista/7 and I don't think that the situation will change very soon unless ARM and MIPS processors will get a big success in the netbook market. It is also true that ARM and MIPS are already supported by Windows Mobile, however I don't think that Microsoft will let Windows Mobile and Windows 7 compete in the netbook segment.
In any case ARM and MIPS are omnipresent in portable devices and got a very good Linux support.
The Linux community is very active, the first netbook optimized distributions are coming our (e.g. Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Intel Moblin 2)
Google Android targets mobile devices (e.g. mobile phone), nevertheless I don't see a reason why not to use Android on netbooks as well. It means that the effort spent to port Android on ARM and MIPS platforms may enable an easy porting of Android on ARM and MIPS netbooks.
Apple excuse for not entering the netbook market is that actual netbook processors don't offer enough performance. Apple is waiting for next generation of netbook processors (or his own processor) to present the first "iNetbook" of course running MAC OS / Leopard.

Relevant posts

2 comments:

Clayton Hallmark said...

In case anyone is interested, there is a blog on the MIPS-powered mini-laptop computers at http://www.alpha-400.com .

As far as the World's Cheapest Computer title goes, the 400-MHz MIPS machines are the best we can do for now.

Your post on network processors opens up very interesting possibilities.

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