Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CES: ARM, Microsoft, NVIDIA... Ubuntu

There was a lot of expectation that during his CES keynote, Steve Ballmer would talk about Microsoft's answer on the tablet front. There was none, as the Engadget live blog humorously pointed out:

And... can you hear that? That's the sound of Microsoft missing a major cycle on tablets.

Of course, there was some big news (something I was personally surprised by) - the next version of Windows will also run on ARM. This is full-blown Windows, not Windows Phone or some other tablet focused variant.

And this got me thinking: who is this a response to? Remember, this is full-blown Windows. This isn't a response to Android, or iOS, or even ChromeOS. My take? This is a response to Ubuntu because of Linaro. Ubuntu is the only full-blown, general purpose OS that's poised to make a serious move onto ARM powered consumer electronics of all shapes and sizes. And unlike the next Windows, which could easily be 2 years away, Ubuntu is ready right now.

Then there was the news about NVIDIA's Project Denver CPU. Now the fact that NVIDIA is working on a high-performance, multi-core ARM SOC aimed at servers and desktops shouldn't be surprising. So are many others.

What surprised me is how closely NVIDIA aligned themselves with Microsoft (who lacks an appropriate ARM offering in the here and now), and how NVIDIA oddly focused on Microsoft's weak points - supercomputers and servers. For high-performance ARM computing, Microsoft is the worst ally you could have because they have nothing to bring to the table at the moment. And in two years? Have you seen the fury of progress that Ubuntu makes in two years? Game over.

As NVIDIA seems willing to burn bridges that lead to good ol' fashioned money, I expect Microsoft sweetened the deal for them somehow. And that might explain NVIDIA's refusal to provide even proprietary drivers for Wayland.

It's a theory. It could be wrong.

Update: video from CES of Ubuntu 10.10 running on an ARM Cortex-A9 laptop

1 comment:

  1. Ha, ha, windows always take different ways. that's make it can't grown like open source :p