The desktop computer as we know it could be in danger! Our hobby is doomed! - Let's face it. We're all going to be reading these words a trillion times during the next 12 months. So we decided to head this one off at the pass. Is the onset of ARM a real threat to desktop computing, or is it more of an evolutionary force?
Over the past several years, the demand for desktop computers in the home has been steadily shrinking, displaced by notebooks and all-in-one systems. In fact, 69 percent of PCs sold last quarter were notebooks, compared to the falling 22 percent that were desktops. This has been the trend ever since notebook sales caught up to desktop sales back in 2008. (Hey, it could be worse.) These days, all-in-one systems and notebooks are capable of offering near-desktop performance (so long as you don't mind giving up the ability to play modern games and upgrade in an affordable, modular fashion).
Something a bit more worrisome is the recent explosion of ultra-mobile products, specifically smartphones and tablets. In just a few years, smartphones and tablets have made stupendous jumps in performance. Formerly pokey computing devices have become pocketable powerhouses capable of many of the same basic functions as an ordinary desktop. The kingpin behind all of this development? ARM, a versatile processor microarchitecture that emphasizes power efficiency, yet is surprisingly high in performance.