Intel powers nearly all of today's netbooks and ultra mobile devices, but it may find itself playing catch-up in as little as two years.

New technologies are promising diversity as UMB manufacturers are increasingly choosing chips based on rival ARM technology, instead Intel's x86 standard.

2010 will be pivotal for building momentum behind non-x86 solutions, and gaining adoption in both distribution channels and by end-user populations worldwide, ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr said.

Over 90 percent of processors  shipped in UMB devices used Intel's x86 Atom CPU last year, according to The Information Group.

ARM, a processor architecture developed by ARM Holdings in the UK, offer less computing punch than the Atom chip, but requires less power and produces less heat, making it a perfect solution for sub-notebook computers.

A number of manufacturers showed off upcoming products at this years Consumer Electronics Show, all using the rival technology.

Chipmaker Freescale made its push, unveiling a 7-inch touchscreen tablet running on the company's low-power ARM-based processor.

In a similar vein, Lenovo became the first top tier PC maker to announce an ARM-based netbook, the Lenovo Skylight., using a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

While Intel claims the lions share of the netbook market, The Information Group predicts ARM based units will become dominant by 2012.

The research company predicts Intel chips will be in 43.2m netbooks by that year but 52.9m ARM-based systems will ship, relegating Intel to 45 per cent of the total market.