Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has no competition from ARM, according to Linus Torvalds. The Linux pioneer thinks ARM has some or no chance of overhauling the X86 as the chip maker has built an open hardware ecosystem that ARM just doesn’t like replicating. Torvalds voiced his opinions in a chat with David Rusling, chief technology officer of ARM tools vendor Linaro, according to The Register.
ARM not pleasant to deal with
When Rusling asked Torvalds if he has a favorite architecture, the latter said, “x86 is still the one I favor most and that is because of the PC.”
He added that the infrastructure is there, and it is open in a way no other architecture is. He also said that the infrastructure set and CPU core are not that important.
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“It is a factor people kind of fixate on but it does not matter in the end. What matters is the infrastructure around the instruction set.” Torvalds said. “X86 has it and has it at a lot of levels.”
ARM’s hardware story is strong in mobile, but he has been disappointed with ARM “because it is still not very pleasant to deal with” as a hardware platform. Intel made efforts to equip smartphones with its x86 chips but has now stopped working on it. Intel was aiming to release an Android update that could be downloaded and installed on all x86 phones.
Intel experience getting better
Torvalds added that x86 does not have the same unified models around the instruction set as they do in the PC space; however, it is getting better.
“Being compatible just wasn’t as big a deal in the ARM ecosystem as it was in the x86 system,” said Torvalds.
Much application development takes place on PCs with x86 chips from AMD or Intel. He thinks hardware vendors do not have an incentive to make products that make a platform more useful in an ecosystem where compatibility is not the priority, notes The Register. Torvalds likes Raspberry Pi and even classed it as a “toy;” however, he said ARM cannot win until it provides a platform developers will want to use for their basic machines.
He made similar comments about the Internet of Things. When he was asked about attempts to shrink Linux to work on all modest computing devices, he said the Linux development community would not make the attempt to do it because most small devices tend to be very locked down.