The processors can have a host of functions, but the main one is connected to our motherboard and thus be “the brain” of the machine where most of the information comes. Even so, these processors also have their differences among themselves. Let’s know the difference between ARM and x86 processors.
In this article, we will help you to know more about the ARM and x86. Mainly these are the two families of processors more common in our world. What are your strengths, weaknesses, and applications?
Processors x86 vs ARM: differences and main advantages
X86 processors vs ARM
The processors of computers and mobile phones work in different ways. As each machine has its own specific needs and characteristics. In the case of computer systems, the leading manufacturers are AMD and Intel, since mobile phones by Qualcomm, Samsung or Media Tek.
The processors of Intel and AMD are also known as x86 processors. In computer science, x86 or 80 × 86 is the generic name. That was the title of the family of processors based on Intel 8086, of Intel Corporation.
The architecture has a name x86 because the first processors of this family were identified only by numbers ending with the sequence “86”. In other words, we can say that the term x86 refers to an architecture family of the instruction set, based on the Intel 8086.
The difference between ARM and x86
The difference begins in the technology used in the manufacture of the processors. Systems for smartphones use ARM technology, while computers use x86 technology. We have prepared a short explanation about the operation and particularities of each one.
X86 processors and the CISC architecture
The x86 processors come from the CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computers) architecture. Also, that system uses more complex structures, that is, they require more work in their functions and have more elements in their composition. So they are ideal for computers as compared to others.
An example of the complexity of the CSIC architecture can be the hardware of a Core 17 chip. Its composition is quite complete due to the large number of parts and elements, which consequently translates into more functions for the machine.
This type of processor allows several activities at the same time from a single instruction. CISC processors can perform many simultaneous tasks without any of them being harmed since these chips are already available for it.
ARM processors and the RISC architecture
The difference between ARM and x86 occurs mainly in the complexity of its composition, while the x86 is from a more complex architecture, an ARM processor is based on RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer), which as the name itself he says, aims to be more straightforward.
Despite being more simplified, ARM devices have some x86 elements, although there is much difference in the way in which the two processors execute their tasks.
While a CSIC processor demands only one command, the ARM processors require several controls to execute an action. With CSIC the instructions are more straightforward, the process becomes faster.
The other difference between ARM technology and the X86 also occurs in some of the functions. The computers perform tasks that the mobiles do not execute and vice versa, for that reason, it does not make many goals to offer a very sophisticated processor for a smartphone with small functions. That is why there are some processors with unique characteristics.
The acronym ARM comes from Advanced RISC Machine, the name of the company created to license the manufacture of processors in that technology. The other difference with the x86 processors is that the ARMs are designed to have a minimum power consumption and without much loss of processing power.
Incredible as it may seem, ARM processors are the most used in the world, they are present from microwave ovens, to embedded control systems, toys, HD’s and more. In short, everything that has to be small, spend little energy and process information efficiently.
An ARM processor focuses on keeping the number of instructions in the least amount possible while also having those instructions as simple as possible.
The simple instructions have some advantages for both hardware engineers to software engineers. Since the instructions are simple, the necessary circuits require fewer transistors, resulting in more space for the chip.
Intel 8086, the first x86 processor
Derived from this architecture, AMD has developed the x86-64, a broad set of instructions that allowed more address space, which allows a more significant amount of RAM to be read, among other implementations.
That was achieved, first, with the creation of a much more straightforward architecture than x86 processors. The x86 has several stages of processing.
To put everything together and give the result. All this makes the x86 is very fast and efficient. However, it does that it consumes more physical space and consumes more energy.
The efficiency of ARM processors
The ARM processors do not have this microcode, they have less processing stages (in general from 3 to 8, against the 16 to 32 in x86), among other simplifications. But to compensate for the loss of performance generated by the simplification of the ARM architecture, they have some solutions that make code execution more efficient.
For example, the set of instructions that it is capable of processing when doing so with more data per instruction.
The difference in practice
If you use a web browser on a computer, you will have the possibility to work with a much more significant number of open tabs without any stoppages. Also, you can count on resources such as splitting the screen, playing videos and audios with speeds, among other details.
Differences in electricity consumption
Energy consumption in embedded designs can be one of the most important criteria. So, you can usually ignore the limitations of power consumption, but a mobile design (or one related to an unreliable power supply). That may depend entirely on the management of energy.
The ARM cores excel in low power designs with many of their cores. That do not require heat sinks. Its typical power consumption is less than 5 W, with many packages including GPUs, peripherals, and memory.
This small power dissipation is only possible thanks to the lower number of transistors used and the comparatively lower speeds (compared to standard desktop CPUs). But again (related to the previous section), this affects the performance of the system. And, therefore, more complex operations will take more time.
Intel cores consume much more energy than ARM cores due to their higher complexity. A high-end Intel I-7 can consume up to 130 W of power. While Intel processors for portable equipment (such as Atom and Celeron) consume about 5W.
The processors of lower energy consumption (the Atom line), designed for the use of laptops of little cost. That do not integrate graphics in the processor, while the mobile versions do. However, those that incorporate graphics have significantly lower clock speeds (between 300 MHz and 600 MHz), which results in lower performance.
Differences in software
When it comes to the two big names in the processor market, comparing the availability of software and toolchains is difficult, since both are very useful.
The ARM-based devices have the advantage of running operating systems designed for phones like Android. Intel-based machines have the power of running virtually any operating system. That can run on a standard desktop computer, including Windows and Linux.
Both devices can potentially execute the same applications as long as the application in a language such as Java.
Some Linux distributions exist for an ARM, including the famous Raspberry Pi operating system. But some users may find this as a limitation. Since ARM technology is becoming increasingly popular, Microsoft released a reduced version of its Windows 10. That is Windows 10 IoT Core, that can run on ARM processors.
Differences in the application
The processor you use depends on the requirements of your computer. If you plan to massively produce a single-plate machine.
And the plan is to have a robust platform, then Intel or AMD is the best option. If energy conservation is a concern, then ARM may be the best option, but there are Intel processors. That boast a high processing capacity while providing low power dissipation.
For projects that do not require complex screens (such as monitors), the ARM is most likely the option. We recommend you take a look at everything we have written about Raspberry Pi 3.
In general, both Intel and ARM produce lovely machines with a wide range of integrated controllers and peripherals. Each type, ARM or x86, fits into its niche. And we have already informed that both Apple and Microsoft will use the concepts of “tablets 2 in 1” by using this type of processors. And significantly increase the autonomy of portable equipment. What do you think about our article on x86 processors vs. ARM? We want to know your opinion!