Are ARM Based Chips Safer Than x86 Chips?

Computers are what seem like magical devices to most people. But even with that caveat most people wish they knew more about them. These same people accept the fact that it might be a little over their head so they leave it to the experts. Other people are more curious on what is going on behind the scenes so they poke and prod until they find out what is going on. These people are what we usually call hackers. They try their best to find out what is going on behind the scenes and then they try their best to experiment with it.

Usually when hackers look at what is going on behind the scenes, they usually only go so far deep into the system. Computer systems are like an onion and there are many layers that you have to peel back to be able to get to the center of them. Most people who peep behind the scenes are usually only on what is known as the kernel layer. This could be considered the underside of the operating system layer that everyone uses. The part of the operating system that everyone uses is known as user space. And like we just said, the part of the operating system that is underneath is known as the kernel.

But there is a layer under that where a few hackers dare to travel and that is the chip layer. The chip of a computer is known as its brain and some people want to see how that works as well. While some people will actually experiment with it others will read manuals upon manuals and try to manipulate it with the kernel layer of the computer.

Are ARM Based Chips Safer Than x86 Chips?

The different types of chips

When you are buying a computer there are really only two types chips that you get a choice between in most mainstream systems. Those chips are the x86 chip by Intel and the x86 chip by AMD. Basically AMD makes sure their chips are compatible with Intel chips so that they can run the same set of software. But in reality there are multiple types of chip sets out there and not just x86 based chips. As a matter of fact, before they switched to x86 chips a couple of years ago, Mac computers use to run on a chip that was known as PPC. The PPC chip ran on what is known as RISC architecture but Apple later switched out to x86 chips like everyone else.

But there is another chip out there that is making quite the impression on people lately and it also runs RISC architecture. This chip is known as ARM and even though it has been out for a long time running on small devices, it is more popular than ever.

ARM’s rise in popularity

The reason why ARM has risen in popularity so much is because of the explosion in smart phones. ARM is the main chip in both the IPhone and most Android based phones out there. This is making it one of the most heavily used chip sets out there.

ARM chips are very popular because they run on a low amount of energy and they are very resourceful. They also have a lot of power as well. But as with anything else that is on the market, especially when you are talking about technology, its new found fame is causing the bad guys to take a second look at it. It pays a great deal on the black market to know about the background technology that is running the most popular smart phone in the world, the IPhone. Black hat hackers have been checking out the peculiarities of the phone like never before trying to find a back way in.

Which chip set is safer?

And with all of this new hacker interest, people are starting to ask questions such as which chip set is safer? Do you go with the tried and true x86 chips? This is the one that security people are used to and have an easier time patching the holes in. Or do you go with the ARM chips because there are fewer holes already but there are sure to be more discovered.

The reason why this question is being asked is because Intel is starting to look into adding x86 chips inside of smart phones pretty soon. And there are some companies who make ARM chips who are looking at making both tablets and netbook type devices pretty soon. As a matter of fact, there are already some netbooks out on the market now which are running on ARM. They are trying to bring out more devices like that.

So which one is safer? This is a question which we do not know the answer yet. But hopefully we will know it soon.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. […] is why it is a good thing to start learning the ARM architecture basics right now. It runs what is known as RISC instructions. The letters RISC stand for Reduced […]

  2. […] that is why we have seen such an uptick when it comes to ARM based hacking. ARM chips are not new but they are now more popular than ever. The old books that showed how ARM chips would […]

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