Is the A15 Chromebook the Beginning of the End for AMD?
Right now, the PC industry is sorta split. A good laptop is expensive and has an intel chip, and a subpar laptop is cheap, slow, poorly made and has an AMD chip in it. That might be on the verge of changing.
Google released a $250 chromebook today, which is cheap enough that they might hit double digit sales. The biggest factor in hitting that price is that they ditched the celeron chip in the old chromebooks in favor of an ARM A15 chip.
Performance might be comparable: the celeron slightly edges out a core 2 duo, while the dual-core A15 is comparable to the quad-core tegra 3. Nvidia are fond of comparing the T3 to the Core 2 duo. We'll have to see, but things are looking sunny.
None of this matters yet because ChromeOS doesn't matter, but would the story be different if it had Windows RT?
In its current state, RT doesn't make a lot of sense, tablets are pricey, with even the base model surface costing $600 if you want a keyboard. Since its easier to do a cheap laptop than it is to do a cheap tablet, I'm betting we'll start seeing WinRT smartbooks in the next few months. People aren't going to plug a keyboard and mouse into a tablet, but if it comes with one built-in, keeping the desktop actually makes sense. Without touch, or a a metal frame, or the engineering difficulty of cramming it all into a thin form factor, it shouldn't be too hard for other companies to match or come close to samsung's $250 price point. The current offering ticks a lot of checkboxes, there's no glaring flaws with the hardware, imagine what they could pull off at a $400 price point.
Getting into the ~$400 market means that these ARM smartbooks have the potential to start eating into the area where AMD is strongest, and they'll bring thinner shells and better battery life. People who buy an AMD laptop don't care, they just need a computer and RT might actually be enough for them, some of them won't know the difference. AMD has been struggling for awhile on the performance and battery life, while ARM is rapidly getting better at both. Could we see a shift from AMD to ARM on the low end? Are windows legacy apps enough to save AMD?