Back in 1998, when I first began covering hardware at the newly launched Ars Technica, much of my writing focused on issues raised by the raging Mac vs. PC flame wars that took place in computing forums across the Internet. These flame wars were often centered around the esoteric issue of instruction set architecture (ISA), as partisans on each side argued over which type of ISA was superiorâ€”those ISAs based on the RISC philosophy expressed in the PowerPC processors that powered the Mac, or the CISC camp that most think is exemplified by Intel's x86 processors [...]
st-forward to today, and the future of the pocket looks eerily similar to what the future of the desktop looked like from the standpoint of a decade ago. WiMAX and 3G networks are poised to make mobile broadband ubiquitous in large urban centers, and two ISAs, one RISC and one CISC, are poised to do battle yet again on a new terrain that's defined by a shift in how people use their computers.
Unlike 1998, though, RISC vs. CISC actually matters, now. A close look at the design of Intel's newest mobile architecture, officially named Atom, will show why the decades-old "RISC vs. CISC" debate is suddenly interesting again, and in some entirely new ways. In this article, I'll talk about the penalty that Intel's new Atom ultramobile processor pays for its CISC legacy, and how Intel plans to reduce the impact of that penalty with simultaneous multithreading.
This is one of the articles that make Ars stand out for me. It gets more in depth and actually delves into the execution pipeline. They bring up a some good points, especially in relation to how the baggage that x86 brings is hurting Intel in the mobile realm. Makes for a good read
btw for some reason they don't explain RISC/CISC (reduced/complex instruction set computer). Wiki can explain better than I can, but basically RICS processors use an instruction set that contains only simple operations such as an arithmetic calculation, a memory load/store, etc whereas CISC will combine several of these operations into a single instruction. x86 follows the CISC philosophy