A huge opportunity for Intel’s Medfield: locked bootloaders on ARM Windows 8 devices

If you follow Microsoft and Windows news, you’ve probably heard about MS requiring Windows 8 ARM devices to be locked down. If you believe in the freedom to do what you want with devices you own above all else as I do, there’s no rationalizing away the negativity of that. The good news is – as the article shows – that restriction applies to ARM devices only.

That’s where Intel comes in: their Medfield CPUs are x86 processors with the efficiency of ARM counterparts. This means OEMs – and DIY folk – can circumvent the whole locked bootloader policy by simply using a Intel x86 CPU instead of an ARM CPU. Oh yeah, and unlike an ARM CPU, a Medfield processor can run both Win32 and Metro apps also. If this doesn’t make you explode with happiness, I don’t know what does. I don’t think I have to explain how much more marketable an “open” (note the quotes) x86 tablet is than a locked down ARM tablet with the same power requirements.

A more cynical take on this is that the policy serves as a nice subliminal present from MS to Intel, as under it only Intel-powered* tablets will retain the customizability traditionally associated with PCs. Nvidia, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, et al. aren’t so lucky.


*Technically, AMD CPUs are welcome to the party also, but AFAIK they have no plans to compete with ARM or Medfield in the low power space, which severly limits their utility for tablet form factor devices.


Author: jdrch

ISTJ, Rice Owl, UF Gator, mechanical engineer. STEM, sports, music, movies, humor. Account mine only & unaffiliated.


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