Why are ARM processors more efficient than x86? Are there any benefits to x86?

The problem with x86 and its amazing strength are that it has a tool for everything.

Unfortunately, taken to an extreme this is what eventually happens.

Raspberry Pi 4B on the left, i9–11900K on the right.
Raspberry Pi 4B on the left, i9–11900K on the right.

Which of these gadgets do you want to carry around in your pocket? Probably neither, you say. But given a choice you would probably take the smaller one and hope that you don’t encounter any Torx screws that need removing out in the wilderness.

But that’s what you get with x86 in 2021, everything including the kitchen sink—whether you want it or not. The downside of ARM is that everything that has a “widget for that” in x86 has to be done longhand in ARM. Therefore x86 will always be faster—unless you are Apple and have every contingency handled in your own homespun silicon and operating system.

And before you imagine that ARM blows x86 out of the water at the low end, look at all of the new microscopic quad-core Celeron systems running Windows 10 like a dream on 5W while their ARM counterparts choke on 4K video playback and basic gaming.

Efficiency isn’t efficient if it won’t do the most basic of entry-level tasks, and in 2021, 4K video has become a point of entry into the low end.

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