Image: Qualcomm

Qualcomm will be following on the heels of Apple and its highly lauded M1 chip by bringing a similar idea to PCs. That’s according to Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon, who told Reuters in a recent interview that Qualcomm would be designing its own system-on-a-chip (SoC) for laptops. These chips will not be based on any ARM technology, however, but on Nuvia’s designs, a startup that Qualcomm acquired this year for $1.4 billion. Nuvia was founded by ex-Apple employees who helped launch the M1 chip.

Image: Qualcomm

[…] as Qualcomm looks to push 5G connectivity into laptops, it is pairing modems with a powerful central processor unit, or CPU, Amon said. Instead of using computing core blueprints from longtime partner Arm Ltd, as it now does for smartphones, Qualcomm concluded it needed custom-designed chips if its customers were to rival new laptops from Apple.

Sources: Reuters, Ars Technica

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13 Comments

  1. Will they only support 8gb of ram like the M1? I dont see that flying in the PC/Windows world.

    If the preference is significantly improved without any serious limitations could really shake up/disrupt the pc/processor industry.

  2. Oh goody an M1 type chip running… windows? And exactly how many actual games will work on it without emulation (guessing zero)

    Or a super duper chromebook maybe?

  3. Good Luck I guess?

    Qualcomm is so far behind Apple’s designs performance wise, that I doubt this will be a winner, but I could be proven wrong.

    [QUOTE=”Elf_Boy, post: 37434, member: 438″]
    Will they only support 8gb of ram like the M1? I dont see that flying in the PC/Windows world.

    If the preference is significantly improved without any serious limitations could really shake up/disrupt the pc/processor industry.
    [/QUOTE]

    I didn’t realize the M1’s were limited to 8GB.

    The product page for Apples M1 MacBook Pro claims to be “configurable to 16GB”

    ARM on the PC is inevitable. I’m just not sure Qualcomm has what it takes. Their mobile chips trail so far behind Apple’s mobile chips it isn’t even a fair fight.

    [QUOTE=”Burticus, post: 37440, member: 297″]
    Oh goody an M1 type chip running… windows? And exactly how many actual games will work on it without emulation (guessing zero)

    Or a super duper chromebook maybe?
    [/QUOTE]

    There is much more to PC’s than just games.

    In fact, even with the PC gaming explosion we have had over the last 10 years, I bet gaming is still less than 10% of all use cases.

    Sure, there are a lot of bombastic kids who buy parts and build gaming PC’s with Christmas tree lights and loud roaring fans, but there are easily 10 times more people who buy PC’s for email/web/office and other productivity apps.

    Microsoft even stated that games were “outside the target customer”, at least for initial Windows on ARM releases.

    I don’t have a complete picture of what the native ARM for windows software base looks like right now. Certainly Microsoft must have their app base ported, but has any kind of critical mass of 3rd party devs jumped in yet? x86 emulation reportedly works surprisingly well, but only for 32bit applications, which kind of limits things a bit.

    At least in March of this year when [URL=’https://www.techrepublic.com/article/windows-on-arm-this-is-how-well-64-bit-emulation-is-working/’]this article[/URL] was written 64bit emulation was still a work in progress, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it never performs particularly well.

    Reportedly Microsofts initial target when it came to x86 emulation was for legacy business productivity apps that were unlikely to be ported to ARM. They were pretty optimistic that developers would jump on developing for Windows on ARM, so that for newer apps it wouldn’t be necessary to emulate, but that doesn’t look like it has happened.

  4. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37448, member: 203″]
    There is much more to PC’s than just games.

    In fact, even with the PC gaming explosion we have had over the last 10 years, I bet gaming is still less than 10% of all use cases.
    [/QUOTE]

    Ok then that would have to be emulated down. Games is just an example. But if it can’t run the software then why go this route just go chromebook..

    All supposition anyway since it doesn’t exist yet, no one knows

  5. [QUOTE=”Elf_Boy, post: 37434, member: 438″]
    Will they only support 8gb of ram like the M1? I dont see that flying in the PC/Windows world.

    If the preference is significantly improved without any serious limitations could really shake up/disrupt the pc/processor industry.
    [/QUOTE]
    M1 supports 16GB, but by most accounts doesn’t actually [I]need[/I] it. A large part of that is having fast enough storage as part of the base design along with dedicated logic for things that typically need a lot of memory (video, high-res photography as examples), and just streaming the work instead of trying to put it all in RAM at once.

    [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37448, member: 203″]
    Good Luck I guess?

    Qualcomm is so far behind Apple’s designs performance wise, that I doubt this will be a winner, but I could be proven wrong.
    [/QUOTE]
    Qualcomm aren’t the only ones that need ‘luck’; the bigger issue, relative to Apple’s success with their M1, is that Microsoft and Qualcomm have next to zero control over the ecosystem. To be fair, many folks [I]like[/I] it that way, but it does present a quandary to an industrial base that’s used to performance going up year over year and not having to worry about optimization.

    I expect that Qualcomm and Microsoft will be getting Windows and Office / web apps running fairly well on these and then very little beyond that, most especially anything that needs real grunt.

    [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37448, member: 203″]
    Microsoft even stated that games were “outside the target customer”, at least for initial Windows on ARM releases.
    [/QUOTE]
    As well it should be!

    It’s going to take quite some time to get hardware, APIs, and software all on the same page. Even Apple was only really touting World of Warcraft and similar scale games despite the grunt they put into the M1.

    I think any work done here will probably be advantageous to Nvidia’s ARM efforts, and that will probably be where we see gaming ‘gains’ on ARM, alongside Samsung using AMD graphics logic. I expect Qualcomm to come in dead last here.

  6. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37448, member: 203″]
    Good Luck I guess?

    Qualcomm is so far behind Apple’s designs performance wise, that I doubt this will be a winner, but I could be proven wrong.
    [/QUOTE]

    *Lets Hope 🙂

    [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37448, member: 203″]
    I didn’t realize the M1’s were limited to 8GB.
    [/QUOTE]

    *Last I checked, and it has been a while, they only sell 8gb models. If I recall correctly the ram is soldered directly to the SOC – great for speed and lower power consumption but completely non-expandable. By now they may have the 16gb version available but at what price?

    [/QUOTE]
    [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 37448, member: 203″]

    There is much more to PC’s than just games.
    [/QUOTE]

    So true – but how much cpu/gpu does words processing, excel and browser (my main non gaming use of my computer) take?

  7. [QUOTE=”LazyGamer, post: 37455, member: 1367″]
    M1 supports 16GB, but by most accounts doesn’t actually [I]need[/I] it. A large part of that is having fast enough storage as part of the base design along with dedicated logic for things that typically need a lot of memory (video, high-res photography as examples), and just streaming the work instead of trying to put it all in RAM at once.
    [/QUOTE]

    Looks like the M1 supports up to 64gb with the MacBook pro – not that I could find an option on the site configure anything except the default 16gm

    The IMac says 16gb but no option to buy anything except 8gb.

    Given the MacBook with 16gb ram and 512hd is $2400 I’m kinda scared to see what the Apple Tax for more memory/HD Space would be. Some tasks, like video/Image/music editing, very large documents excel/word/etc, need a lot of memory or you just end up killing performance hitting the virtual memory.

    The M1 systems look nifty and I like the tech, the price and what you get isnt there for me, though the 16gb in the MacBook would be workable for me – just more than I am willing to pay.

  8. Battery life, great College laptop, business laptops etc. I think these can do rather well if the performance and battery life is really good. Any game performance would be a benefit.

    How many developers will port over to ARM is to be seen. Switch is ARM and made for games, upping the textures, polygons etc. does not seem that difficult for a Switch game to play maybe on an ARM laptop. Plus there are other ways now to play games on weaker devices such as Geforce Now, disconnected battery power laptop that can play 6-8 hours at 60fps, 1080p using a streaming game service would be rather useful.

  9. [QUOTE=”Elf_Boy, post: 37468, member: 438″]
    *Last I checked, and it has been a while, they only sell 8gb models. If I recall correctly the ram is soldered directly to the SOC – great for speed and lower power consumption but completely non-expandable. By now they may have the 16gb version available but at what price?
    [/QUOTE]
    I own a 16GB MBP. It was in stock at the store, didn’t require a special order. They’ve been available since Day 1. You can special order up to 32G if you really wanted to.

    Is it limited? Yeah. There’s a cap. But it’s a reasonable cap for what the intended use cases are.

    And my M1 MBP can emulate x86 faster than the Ivy Bridge MBP it replaced could run it natively, and gets much better battery life doing it. Now, Ivy is a bit dated, but I don’t have thing running OS X on anything more modern to personally compare it to. A lot of reviewers were noting that it was matching or beating 8th an 10th gen Intels, on emulated code, in many everyday use cases.

    Can it game? Well.. I probably wouldn’t go that far. Probably about as well as any ultra-slim you find on the PC side, except for the extremely slim game library available on OS X – emulated or ARM native. Apple’s IGP isn’t bad, but it’s no discrete card, and Apple hasn’t been courting AAA gaming — apart from their mobile storefront, which rakes in cash even without Fortnite.

    I’m cool if you don’t like Apple. Just get your facts together and at least know what your hating on. To throw you a bone – x86 virtualization is gone, no more Boot Camp, no more running x86 Windows at all on a M1. That is significant – I think that someone (probably Parallels) could come up with a working x86 emulator if they had access to the appropriate patents or libraries (Apple is doing it via Rosetta, after all, but I don’t believe they are virtualizing it). And more finger pointing – Microsoft ~should~ already be doing it in their ARM version of Windows, which ~can~ run virtualized on an M1 Mac right now.

  10. The issue here isn’t that Qualcomm can’t make some piece of hardware that will compete. Of course they can.

    The issue is always that Apple controls both hardware ~and~ software stacks. They limit the variables significantly, and they can highly optimize and tightly couple the two. Qualcomm can’t do that, and Microsoft won’t do that for Windows with just Qualcomm, so they will stay to distinct items, and the end result will be some generic watered down item: the hardware may be faster, but you won’t realize it in “real use” scenarios and only see it on benchmarks, and/or the battery life will be horrible, and/or Microsoft will never get a x86 emulation layer that works worth a darn, and/or it will only get two years of updates before it’s abandoned.

    The problem has never really been lack of hardware when it comes to ARM. It’s been a lack of integration.

  11. Yes x86 is truly becoming easier to replace.
    The big issue is the flexibility in software.
    No longer there is this huge barrier of no software in x or z platform. That, plus being that things are moving away from local device computing anyway, yeah x86 is becoming an option and not a requirement. Certainly bigger better ARM devices is yet another move in making x86 just a another choice. It just takes time. As far as this chip, so its arm isa but nothing arm based as in borrowing their design I take it?

  12. [QUOTE=”Uvilla, post: 37477, member: 397″]
    As far as this chip, so its arm isa but nothing arm based as in borrowing their design I take it?
    [/QUOTE]
    Yeah, Qualcomm usually makes their own cores. Samsung has been licensing cores from ARM directly though there was a mention of them working with Google on custom cores themselves. Exynos SoCs have never been known to be competitive and that could change soon.

    [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 37474, member: 96″]
    The problem has never really been lack of hardware when it comes to ARM. It’s been a lack of integration.
    [/QUOTE]
    Nail, meet head 😎

    I’ll say that we’re already very close in terms of the hardware being able to handle the workloads. I did some testing with a 4GB Pi 4 before I put it into permanent pihole / Unifi duty, and it handled all kinds of craziness, and that’s before the OS was really tuned. And those are on ancient ARM cores manufactured on a [B]28nm[/B] node.

    Full desktop GUI at 1080p, all the OSS desktop software, even some light gaming.

    Microsoft just has to get their act together with the different ARM vendors to get that part done. It’s not just running on the ARM ISA, which is comparatively easy, but also all of the APIs especially for graphics and video transcoding that make the difference.

    [QUOTE=”noko, post: 37472, member: 69″]
    Battery life, great College laptop, business laptops etc. I think these can do rather well if the performance and battery life is really good. Any game performance would be a benefit.
    [/QUOTE]
    And I think that this is where they’re going to surprise us. I’ll say that this is the biggest draw of an Apple M1 Macbook Air – that I could do all of the desktop stuff I do and have several days worth of battery life. Do that and put it in a Dell XPS-grade chassis (or better), and the business market just found their new favorite laptop!

  13. [QUOTE=”Elf_Boy, post: 37469, member: 438″]
    Looks like the M1 supports up to 64gb with the MacBook pro – not that I could find an option on the site configure anything except the default 16gm

    The IMac says 16gb but no option to buy anything except 8gb.

    Given the MacBook with 16gb ram and 512hd is $2400 I’m kinda scared to see what the Apple Tax for more memory/HD Space would be. Some tasks, like video/Image/music editing, very large documents excel/word/etc, need a lot of memory or you just end up killing performance hitting the virtual memory.

    The M1 systems look nifty and I like the tech, the price and what you get isnt there for me, though the 16gb in the MacBook would be workable for me – just more than I am willing to pay.
    [/QUOTE]
    I’ve been able to configure Macbooks, Minis, and Imacs to 16GB without trouble on Apple’s site. I’ve considered all of them personally.

    Biggest thing to mention is to not spec more than 512GB of storage. USB3 storage is fast enough for any workload and it’s trivial to throw an NVMe drive into an external enclosure. Just get 16GB of RAM for longevity’s sake.

    Another thing to mention is that Apple added the option to upgrade the M1 Mini with a 10Gbit port – I really had to pry my finger away from the buy button when I saw that one!

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