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ARM licenses its design to chip makers such as Texas Instruments, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Nvidia, for processors intended for mobile devices.
Intel's Data Center Group has seen growth in the last year that was nearly 15 percent more than the company's PC unit, and the server processor market is expected to reach about $9 billion in 2011. Interestingly, H-P is Intel's biggest customer in the Data Center Group.
ARM executives have noted that one of the major issues for data centers is power consumption and management, and that they expect their chips to first reside in servers that support Web-based transactions, then move into more complex and powerful environments.
But ARM chips, while more energy efficient than x86 chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, are also less powerful. Also, most software in data centers is written for x86. Meanwhile, Intel has aggressively been attempting to reduce the power requirements for all of its processors.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said Intel has been pursuing partnerships with companies to build servers based on its power-efficient Atom chips, which have been primarily targeted at mobile devices. He noted that "any x86 app will run on Atom natively," a capability not shared by ARM chips.
If you "put aside the server architecture," King said, the coming of ARM-based servers might be more appropriately compared to the Atom-based ones.