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ARM thumb is a 2-operand (i.e. one of the registers is the destination) instruction set over 8 registers, just like i386. It has similar code density to x86, at the expense of fewer instructions per cycle. It does lack x86's fancy memory addressing modes though.

And I wouldn't say PPC lost. IBM has competitive CPUs in the market, they're just not in consumer devices. But they're just that: "competetive". They aren't much better (actually pretty much nothing is better than Sandy Bridge right now).

I think this discussion may be going in the wrong direction. Arguing the merits of ARM and Power instructions over x86 just seems to be falling into the trap the article discusses - slightly different ways to keep doing the wrong thing.

To me TFA is about a reassessment of fundamental assumptions, and it's about exploration. It doesn't suggest concrete solutions because nobody knows what they are, but it does suggest that our efforts to better the art have been short-sighted. Right now the next Intel chip or ARM chip is just another target for compilation, just another language or library fight with instead of solving real problems - solving old problems, not just the latest new/interesting/imagined ones.

(FWIW, this particular example doesn't excite me too much - If the future is DWIM, it almost certainly has to be done first in software, even if it is eventually supported by specialised hardware.)

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