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Intel Hints at Patent Fight With Microsoft and Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation

Accepted submission by takyon at 2017-06-09 23:15:15
Techonomics

Intel may be planning to sue Microsoft for its plans to include x86 emulation in Windows 10 for ARM [arstechnica.com] machines:

In celebrating the x86 architecture's 39th birthday yesterday—the 8086 processor first came to market on June 8, 1978—Intel took the rather uncelebratory step of threatening any company working on x86 emulator technology [intel.com].

[...] The post doesn't name any names, but it's not too hard to figure out who it's likely to be aimed at: Microsoft, perhaps with a hint of Qualcomm. Later in the year, companies including Asus, HP, and Lenovo will be releasing Windows laptops using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor. This is not the first time that Windows has been released on ARM processors—Microsoft's first attempt to bring Windows to ARM was the ill-fated Windows 8-era Windows RT in 2012—but this time around there's a key difference. Windows RT systems could not run any x86 applications. Windows 10 for ARM machines, however, will include a software-based x86 emulator that will provide compatibility with most or all 32-bit x86 applications.

This compatibility makes these ARM-based machines a threat to Intel in a way that Windows RT never was; if WinARM can run Wintel software but still offer lower prices, better battery life, lower weight, or similar, Intel's dominance of the laptop space is no longer assured. The implication of Intel's post is that the chip giant isn't just going to be relying on technology to secure its position in this space, but the legal system, too.

Also at ZDNet [zdnet.com] and CRN [crn.com].


Original Submission