With Windows 8 and mobile computing, CPU manufacturers are interesting again

One of the bizarrely fascinating things about the next generation of computing hardware and software is the fact that microprocessor manufacturers suddenly have an interesting stake in the game. Over the last few years, the Intel/AMD speed race turned into a tediously uninteresting one-horse race, and the mobile processor guys just kept quietly plugging away in the background… and now; ARM and Qualcomm are suddenly a threat to Intel – which – other than its Atom line – hasn’t made significant inroads into the mobile computing market at all.

In a bizarre twist, Microsoft is trying to tie chip vendors to a single hardware manufacturer for Windows 8 (I have no idea how this would work). I suspect this is its ham-fisted attempt to get some consistency of experience established – so that one Windows tablet is very like another – but like the Acer CEO JT Wang, I’m extremely doubtful about the effectiveness of this scheme. The theory makes sense; Qualcomm chips are suited to different form factors to Intel chips (right now, anyway) so it’s not like the Intel/AMD battles of old – where one chip was interchangeable with another.

Still, it will be interesting to see if this new wave of competition will spark some interesting form factors. Perhaps a shoe-tablet