Processor War- ARM vs Intel


Intel is the one of the best processor manufacturing companies in the world. But the rise of ARM has given a blow to Intel. This article covers the differences between ARM and Intel.

Intel vs ARM-The all time war
There are two giants of computer processor industry. One is Intel, which has market dominance in personal computer processors. On other hand there is ARM, the market leader in processors for Smartphones and handhelds.



But the demand of power efficiency and high performance is changing the industry shape. ARM manufactures most power efficient processors for smartphones where as Intel is able to increase the performance with the shrink in die.

Intel now aims to capture the fastest growing Mobile and smartphone industry where as ARM has an eye on $50 billion sever market.

History says Intel has always worked on the less die size with high performance improvement roadmap suitable for computer and severs. On the other hand ARM has always tried to make its processors, more and more power efficient for the embedded systems.

Many companies use ARM processors for developing their embedded system where as Intel processors are only being used for computers and servers.

One of the most significant differences between ARM architecture and Intel x86 architecture is in the method of loading of operating systems (OS) during the booting period.

In Intel x86 architecture, you need a boot loader popularly known as Basic Input/output System (BIOS). The basic function of BIOS is to transfer or load the kernel from file system to RAM (Random Access Memory) and the execution of kernels. After the execution kernels take over the control and have access to the file system. The boot loader is always placed in the boot sector of the hard disk.

On the other hand in ARM architecture, there are no BIOS thus there is no delay for POST. In ARM architecture, we need to run the boot loader externally which loads the kernels directly from flash memory. There is no need for hard disk for booting. Then the control from boot loader transfers to kernel. The further processes are similar to that of booting in Intel x86 architecture.

Let's have a look on some more differences: -

1.     Architecture:

ARM uses the latest RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing) architecture where as Intel still follows the older computing architecture CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) based x86 architecture.

Both RISC and CISC architecture uses machine level programming. CISC has larger number of instruction sets than that of RISC architecture.

CISC can perform wider range of processes and much complex processes. Due to less requirement of instruction set RISC chip can boost the speed by overlapping instruction execution.

As a result, Intel uses decoders to boost up the speed at the cost of higher power consumption by decoders.

2.     Power Efficiency:

ARM chips are power efficient in smartphones but cannot guaranty the efficiency when it comes to PC industry.

Intel's scientists and engineers have recently develops the 3D transistor which are power efficient as well as provide high performance.



The main difference in all the processors is in the way the processors uses their resources like cache, instruction sets and resistors distribution.

3.     Endianness: 

ARM: Bi-endian (Both little as well as big endian)

Intel: Little endian

4.     Data Movement:

ARM: Register to Register type

Intel: Register to Memory type

5.     Encoding:

ARM: Fixed Type

Intel: Variable (1 to 15 bytes) Type


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