Smartbooks will succeed thanks to Flash (and Chrome?)

Posted by Charbax – May 6, 2010

ARM's marketing vice president, Ian Drew is quoted in an article at as saying:

"Our target is mostly internet machines — it becomes sort of a requirement that they run the internet," Drew said. "[The delay in optimising] Flash has stalled it".

Drew suggested that solving the issue of Flash optimisation had involved "lots of heavy lifting" but once the new version of Adobe's rich media software is in place for smartbooks, that would be "very powerful" for ARM.


"I actually think we're a lot stronger because of it," he said. "We now know what we didn't know two years ago. It has taught us a lot about how we work with software companies."

So we know from my Interview with ARM's Director of Mobile Computing and from my interview with Adobe Flash's product manager that ARM, Adobe and other partners including Google, Nvidia, Freescale, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm and others have invested hundreds and hundreds of engineers in working full time over the past many months to optimize and succeed in supporting the full Flash on the ARM processors of upcoming Smartbooks, Tablets, Phones and Set-top-boxes.

The Smartbooks are a big deal. Getting the full speed web browser experience working I think is the biggest job. Delayed Flash support on ARM Cortex A8 and A9 processors was one part of it, my theory is also that ARM has had to wait for the Chrome browser to come and smooth things up and optimize speed of Javascripts and AJAX-heavy websites as well. It wouldn't look good enough for consumers if AJAX versions of Gmail, Facebook and Flash-heavy sites like Youtube and Hulu weren't able to display correctly and feel like the browsing experience was as fast as on Intel.

Now though with Google Chrome for ARM and Flash for ARM being finalized, and also even the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 processors starting to become available, performance for a full PC web browsing experience on ARM should be real.

Once full web browsing performance is working, once all major websites load instantly on ARM laptops, from then on, advances in processors I think will be more about lowering cost and lowering power consumption further, then there would even be the need for any performance increases. The performance increases can be used in server parks powering the processor intensive tasks in the cloud, but the web browser access terminal just needs to have a perfect web browsing experience to unlock an experience that all consumers will like.

ARM Laptops to even support heavy Multimedia authoring applications on the cloud:

Clever cloud computing should even allow for very advanced video-editing, image rendering, even 3D graphics acceleration and 3D games can be streamed to a thin client that just needs to run some kind of 3D engine. Even professionals and advanced users will prefer an ARM laptop for video editing, if they have a fast enough upload speed to store the original native video files on the cloud, display AJAXified video-editing user interfaces and thumbnails in the web browser or in an app that interfaces with the cloud, and then you can have a grid of servers on the cloud processing, rendering and encoding the videos much faster than any multi-core local processor could do it. Imagine clicking a button and having 2000 servers on an FFmpeg grid encode your hour-long HD video for you in a minute. All video editing and encoding professionals would love to have that setup.

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