IN­TEL THREAT­ENS LE­GAL AC­TION OVER Chip­maker on warpath as Mi­crosoft looks to ARM chips

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In­tel vs Qual­comm for x86 rights, new In­tel CPUs and a faster Fire­fox......................

I ntel looks set for a le­gal fight with ri­val Qual­comm, Mi­crosoft and a host of de­vice man­u­fac­tur­ers over plans to use an em­u­la­tor to run Win­dows x86 apps on ma­chines that use ARMbased pro­ces­sors.

In­tel re­mains dom­i­nant in the PC and server mar­ket, but now faces in­creased com­pe­ti­tion from Qual­comm and other firms at­tempt­ing to base Win­dows sys­tems on ARM-based chips.

With Mi­crosoft plan­ning to port Win­dows – and some of its x86 apps – onto ARM-de­signed pro­ces­sors, In­tel used a blog de­tail­ing 40 years of de­vel­op­ment on its x86 in­struc­tion set ar­chi­tec­ture (ISA) to fire a warn­ing shot at po­ten­tial ri­vals.

“There have been re­ports that some com­pa­nies may try to em­u­late In­tel’s pro­pri­etary x86 ISA with­out In­tel’s au­tho­ri­sa­tion,” the com­pany said in a thinly veiled threat, adding in a clear state­ment that “In­tel does not wel­come un­law­ful in­fringe­ment of its pa­tents.”

Mi­crosoft and Qual­comm are work­ing on a project to run Win­dows 10 and Win32 apps on ARM64 Snap­dragon 835 pro­ces­sors, with Qual­comm say­ing de­vices will run Uni­ver­sal Win­dows Plat­form and Win32 apps through em­u­la­tion.

Asus, HP and Len­ovo have al­ready signed up to man­u­fac­ture Snap­dragon-equipped Win­dows 10 com­put­ers. Na­tive Win­dows has pre­vi­ously been re­stricted to x86 ar­chi­tec­ture, fol­low­ing the with­drawal of Win­dows RT.

In­tel claims that it has 1,600 pa­tents re­lat­ing to in­struc­tion set im­ple­men­ta­tions and pointed to on­go­ing im­prove­ments to con­tent stream­ing, en­cryp­tion and vir­tual ma­chine ex­ten­sions. “In­tel in­vests enor­mous re­sources to ad­vance its dy­namic x86 ISA, and there­fore must pro­tect these in­vest­ments with a strong patent port­fo­lio and other in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights,” the com­pany said.

An­a­lysts aren’t sur­prised In­tel is ag­gres­sively de­fend­ing its ter­ri­tory. “In­tel has se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives to quickly ex­tin­guish any emerg­ing threat to its x86 PC pro­ces­sor busi­ness,” said Motek Moyen, an an­a­lyst at in­vest­ment re­search com­pany Seek­ing Al­pha. “An ARM-based pro­ces­sor in­side Win­dows 10 desk­top or lap­top com­put­ers is def­i­nitely a threat.”

An ARM-based pro­ces­sor in­side a Win­dows 10 PC or lap­top would be a threat to In­tel

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