I remember back when I was in college having to log into a workstation or a mainframe through a dummy terminal. Mainframes and workstations dominated the computer industry and were big and expensive. If you wanted to use a computer, you had to use one of these. By the time I graduated, that had all changed. Personal Computers were cheap enough to not only fill a computer lab, but also for students to even own one. Intel and the x86 processor helped to start this computer revolution. The x86 processor brought computers down to an affordable level. The personal computer was much slower than a mainframe or workstation, but they were also much cheaper and fast enough to do the basic things. The personal computer (or PC) began to dominate over these more expensive mainframes and workstations. You can still buy Mainframes today and they are still much faster than personal computers, but they are only used where they need that extra processing power. Intel has come to dominate the personal computer market for processors. Apple used to use the PowerPC chip, but recently move to Intel due to lack of performance with the PowerPC. AMD still makes a drop in replacement for Intel's x86 chip, but most computers still come with an Intel chip inside. The prices for their chips range from as little as $100 all the way up to almost $900 per chip. That is nothing compared to mainframes which start out around $400K.
You may be wondering why I am taking this trip down memory lane. Well, history is about to repeat itself with a new player — who is not really all that new — ARM. ARM originally stood for Acorn RISC Machine. ARM processors are used in all kinds of imbedded devices from smart phones to digital video recorders or DVRs. Acorn Computer Ltd started making the ARM processors back in 1983. Apple got involved with the ARM chip back in the 1980s and Acorn spun off their partnered project into another company called Advanced RISC Machines Ltd. Apple then used these new ARM chips in the Apple Newton PDA, the first real mobile computer. Later, the company changed the name to ARM Ltd. ARM began licensing their chip in the early 2000's. The ARM chips have continued to be developed over the years, getting more powerful, yet still are very power efficient.
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