Nvidia CEO: ARM version of Windows 8 should be on tablets first

Microsoft made some shocking news nearly a year ago when it announced that it would develop a version of its next Windows operating system that would run on processors based on designs from ARM in addition to its normal x86 version for Intel and AMD chips. Now NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, speaking at a tech conference in Asia earlier today, said Microsoft should only have the ARM version of Windows run on tablet devices, at least at first.

Engadget reports that during the conference, Huang said, "It's important for [Microsoft] not to position these as PCs. From a finesse perspective -- I can't speak on their behalf -- but I would come out with tablets first with Windows on ARM. It helps to establish that this isn't a PC."  He added that he hopes that Microsoft would release a version of its Microsoft Office business software suite for the ARM version of Windows, saying it "would be the killer app" for that version of the OS.

Huang also talked about NVIDIA's smartphone and tablet processor strategy. NVIDIA's Tegra 2 dual core processor is in a number of smartphones and tablets right now and that the next version of the chip, the quad core processor code name Kal-El, should be a part of a new Asus tablet beginning in early November. Huang said that sometime in the future proccesor makers could create separate chips for smartphones and some for tablet devices.

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17 Comments

It's surprising for me that even an OEM, as major as Nvidia, have no knowledge about Microsoft's strategy.

Osiris said,
Finally, I said this years ago hope someone at MS listens to this guy!!

Yes, because NVIDIA was so successfully at Fermi launch and have not delayed Tegra GPUs at all

/s

FoxieFoxie said,

Yes, because NVIDIA was so successfully at Fermi launch and have not delayed Tegra GPUs at all

/s


Business strategy and production/market problems aren't the same thing.

From what I understood, new apps made for Win 8 can simply be complied for either ARM or x86. Only thing ARM will lack is backwards compatibility with current software (util some kind of virtualization on ARM is possible).
If I am correct, Nvidia should really be pushing at developers instead of Microsoft.

random_ said,
From what I understood, new apps made for Win 8 can simply be complied for either ARM or x86

It really depends how Microsoft is going to implement their win32 API on ARM. If there are changes to the interfaces or behaviour, or if apps are optimised with architechture specific assembly/code paths, then recompilation wont be enough. Some major rewrites will be in order. Not only that, but current Windows apps are not touch optimised. Making them touch friendly will no doubt require major rewrites too. All in all, it's going to entail a fair bit of work for developers if they want to have their software running on Windows 8 ARM/x86 for touch devices.
random_ said,

. Only thing ARM will lack is backwards compatibility with current software (util some kind of virtualization on ARM is possible).

That will never happen under current battery technology.
random_ said,

If I am correct, Nvidia should really be pushing at developers instead of Microsoft.

Windows 8 is like WP7 in that it's untested and unproven. It may fail or it may succeed. For developers to commit serious resources to such a precarious new entity is dangerous.

Why necessarily Win32? Personally, I think it's time Microsoft took a page from Apple's book and kicked legacy stuff to the curb. If they're going ARM for tablets, then go for broke. I've been working with the Windows Developer Preview for a month, now, I and I LOVE it. In fact, I absolutely hate that the old desktop shows up at all. I know it will be a while before third parties migrate their software to the new emersive app meme, but that can't happen quickly enough. Also, I find it ridiculous for someone to suggest that WP7 is "untested". It's not COMPETITIVE yet, but it's hardly untested. Several million users would argue otherwise.

i don't agree because some people will think its bad because some applications didn't run or windows 8 for tablet

Well eitherway I hope MS have a good strategy in place, ARM processors are more than capable of running the OS and with this architecture we will finally see all day battery life with a windows based machine, but MS need to market it right and need to have killer apps ready to go to really get the consumers onboard...if they dont launch it successfully ppl will just associate the devices with a pretty start screen and not being able to run the desktop applications they are expecting to run on it straight out of the box.

From what I understood, anything compiled as an AppX tablet application is compiled as an x86/x64/ARM app and executes across the ecosystem without compatibility issues. I could be wrong, but that's how I heard it watching the BUILD videos.

So if tablet applications support multiple chipsets by default, then Nvidia primarily wants to protect the sale of their ARM over, say, Intel's Ivy Bridge. It really depends on price, what the power envelope really is for Intel's Ivy Bridge, and what the power scale vs performance is. Supposedly it scales from the power needs of smart phones up to desktop level needs, but the real performance scale alongside power scale hasn't really been exposed yet... plus those details next to the cooling requirements of the tablet form factor.

As such I'm not considering ARM based tablets until I know what Ivy Bridge can really pull off and what the tablet options under it will be. As Ivy Bridge is now set to be released before years end apparently, we''ll probably see third party review data real soon.

Just to mention though, I also have only one “core” need for tablets, and that's OneNote; any other apps are a bonus. Any mobile computer that can't run it has no value to me. So, until OneNote 2012 is in hand, ARM has no value to me. It is absolutely my killer app requirement.

Edited by ITFiend, Oct 21 2011, 2:36pm :

Kaedrin said,
From what I understood, anything compiled as an AppX tablet application is compiled as an x86/x64/ARM app and executes across the ecosystem without compatibility issues. I could be wrong, but that's how I heard it watching the BUILD videos.

If your app is compiled to an intermediate, architecture independent bytecode format, then yes perhaps, but not a native C/C++ or other language binary. Even then, most gui toolkits aren't touch optimised, so that would require rewriting the presentation layer. That's a fair bit of work for any developer for an unproven platform.

Kaedrin said,

So if tablet applications support multiple chipsets by default, then Nvidia primarily wants to protect the sale of their ARM over, say, Intel's Ivy Bridge.

Intel can't even begin to compete with ARM, in price or in efficiency.
Kaedrin said,

Just to mention though, I also have only one “core” need for tablets, and that's OneNote; any other apps are a bonus. Any mobile computer that can't run it has no value to me. So, until OneNote 2012 is in hand, ARM has no value to me. It is absolutely my killer app requirement.

Yeah, but who really buys a tablet for one app? Besides, you're talking about 1k+ for any intel tablet running the full Windows. It requires at a minimum, 2GB ram, a 2ghz dual core (probably quad) processor, directx 9.0c graphics hardware, etc. That's a steep requirement for a tablet. I bet the battery life and cold boot times would be horrid too.

Joey S said,
If your app is compiled to an intermediate, architecture independent bytecode format, then yes perhaps, but not a native C/C++ or other language binary. Even then, most gui toolkits aren't touch optimised, so that would require rewriting the presentation layer. That's a fair bit of work for any developer for an unproven platform.

Touch has been in the Windows API for years, not exactly new or undocumented. Plus even programs that didn't have touch in mind when they were written will still work, it just gets interpreted as mouse clicks.

Joey S said,
Besides, you're talking about 1k+ for any intel tablet running the full Windows. It requires at a minimum, 2GB ram, a 2ghz dual core (probably quad) processor, directx 9.0c graphics hardware, etc. That's a steep requirement for a tablet. I bet the battery life and cold boot times would be horrid too.

Should check out the requirements that were listed in many places, not sure where you're getting those from, it's significantly less.

Max Norris said,

Touch has been in the Windows API for years, not exactly new or undocumented. Plus even programs that didn't have touch in mind when they were written will still work, it just gets interpreted as mouse clicks.

Have you tried using a traditional Windows GUI using touch? It's a nightmare. The Windows 8 start screen will help, but simply recompiling an app wont be enough, that's my point.

Max Norris said,

Should check out the requirements that were listed in many places, not sure where you're getting those from, it's significantly less.

I'm talking about the full blown desktop shell. Maybe I was looking at the wrong specs, apologies if they are incorrect.

Joey S said,
Have you tried using a traditional Windows GUI using touch? It's a nightmare. The Windows 8 start screen will help, but simply recompiling an app wont be enough, that's my point.

I guess it's subjective. I've been using ye olde desktop model on a touch and/or stylus device since the XP days with zero problems, currently have one running 7 and it works very well, complete with multitouch gestures. Have yet to run across anything that didn't work with it, zero recompilation required, it runs the exact same software. (Using Intel based devices that is, obviously would have to wait for ARM ports if you go that route if the program in question isn't managed.) If you can handle a mouse, you can handle touch. Granted, taking advantage of the touch API and making the controls super big (IE, optimized for fingers) go a long way. As far as the specs go, yea they're supposed to be more or less identical to 7, and current tests/demos show it using less resources than 7. With appropriate hardware, a cold boot is practically instant too.

Just like x64 software was rare in the beginning, now there is emulation or x64 versions of almost everything. I expect ARM to have x86 emulation. In just a few years, it won't matter what software version you have because they'll run on any platform.

SpyderCanopus said,
Just like x64 software was rare in the beginning, now there is emulation or x64 versions of almost everything.

But i586 and x86_64 share a common instruction set base, unlike ARM.

SpyderCanopus said,

I expect ARM to have x86 emulation.

Not with current battery technology. While ARM does have a virtualisation instruction set, performance emulating i586/x86_64 is likely poor compared with native apps, or even JIT languages.
SpyderCanopus said,

In just a few years, it won't matter what software version you have because they'll run on any platform.

Anything could happen in a couple of years, though there would have to be some massive leaps forward in battery efficiency, processor speed, and virtualisation technology for it to be viable.

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