When he was growing up, a dream of Linux pioneer Linus Torvalds was to acquire the Acorn Archimedes, a groundbreaking personal computer with the first ARM RISC chips.
But in 1987, Archimedes wasn’t available to Torvalds in Finland, so he settled for the Sinclair QL. In the meanwhile, the Archimedes failed and disappeared from the scene, killing any chance for ARM chips to dominate PCs.
Since then, multiple attempts to put ARM chips in PCs have failed. Outside of a few Chromebooks, most PCs have x86 chips from Intel or AMD.
The domination of x86 is a problem for Linaro, an industry organization that advocates ARM hardware and software. Many of its developers use x86 PCs to compile programs for ARM hardware. That’s much like trying to write Windows programs on a Mac.
That fact doesn’t sit well with George Grey, CEO of Linaro.
“Linus mentioned this a little while ago: How do we get developers to work on ARM first? Why are will still using Intel tools?” Grey asked during a speech at this month’s Linaro Connect conference in Budapest.
A powerful Linux laptop or mini-desktop based on an ARM processor needs to built so developers can write and compile applications, he said.
“May be we can take a Chromebook design and put more memory, get upstream Linux support on it, and use it as a developer platform for developers to carry to conferences,” Grey said then.
To further that idea, a group of ARM hardware enthusiasts gathered in a room at Linaro Connect to conceptualize a powerful ARM PC. The group settled on building a computer like the Intel NUC—a mini-desktop with a powerful board computer in it.
The free-flowing session was entertaining, with attendees passionately sharing ideas on the chip, memory, storage, and other components in the PC.
The session, which is available on Linaro’s site, also highlighted issues involved in building and supporting an ARM-based PC. There were concerns about whether ARM chips would deliver performance adequate to run powerful applications.
There were also concerns about components and about providing a Linux user experience acceptable to users.
Also important was building a viable ARM PC that would…
This is an extract of 300 words from the original article.
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