Asus, HP, and Lenovo are working on ARM-powered Win10 PCs

Microsoft is doubling down on notebooks this year. Not only is the company using its Surface Laptop to spar with Apple in the high-end consumer space, it's also partnering with Qualcomm to help launch Windows 10 notebooks powered by the Snapdragon 835 "Mobile PC Platform." These thin, fanless, and purportedly efficient devices will run the familiar Windows 10 OS and the basic applications that most users need, presumably at a low price. Asus, HP and Lenovo all have their own Snapdragon-powered designs in the works, and should make their own announcements later in the year.

Microsoft thinks there are many consumers who want the easy connectivity and portability of today's mobile devices along with the functionality of a PC, but deterred by the limitations of many notebooks. Traditional PCs are often limited to WiFi, they can run hot, and battery life isn't always great. Microsoft says partnering with Qualcomm let it address many of these concerns. The Snapdragon 835 SoC's integrated X16 LTE modem will let users take advantage of gigabit internet speeds—at least, wherever wireless companies make such speeds available. The notebooks will run efficiently enough to allow thin, fanless designs, and we're told to expect substantial battery life and lengthy standby times.

As for the performance of these devices, it's probably best to temper expectations. Qualcomm's demo unit at Computex has a prototype connected to a large display, wireless mouse, and wireless keyboard, and is letting attendees use it to do basic tasks in the Microsoft Office suite. Judging from the promotional video, the notebooks will handle light entertainment duties, as well. Thanks to Microsoft's efforts to make x86 apps run on ARM CPUs with minimal performance degradation, these machines might boast broad enough application compatibility to avoid the pitfalls of Windows RT and its Windows Store-only app pool. According to a Qualcomm conference call from earlier this year, these notebooks should hit the market in time for the year-end holidays.

Comments closed
    • Brainsan
    • 3 years ago

    Yay! Netbooks are back!

      • DarkMikaru
      • 3 years ago

      That might actually perform I might add! Netbooks of the past were painful! lol

    • DavidC1
    • 3 years ago

    Intel did not entirely gave up on Atoms. Yes, Smartphones are totally gone for now. But for value 2-in-1s its there. Heck, they are even on some Tablets.

    It’s called Apollo Lake. They are often branded not-Atoms but they have the same core. And apparently for Tablets they are low power.

    It’s true they aren’t as abundant, but misleading to say they don’t exist. Probably because they are sold as regular chips with regular discounts rather than 100% platform discounts they did with previous generations.

    Supporting that, brief search does not show $99 Apollo Lake Tablets either. It might be that Intel wants to stay away from such cheap devices anyway. I don’t think you’ll see S835’s there either.

    Unfortunately its Microsoft themselves that need real PC OS competition. Windows 10 I do not see it a big advancement over can’t-decide-on-the-UI Windows 8/8.1. It’s what happens when companies pursue “it should be different just because” philosophy.

    • Mat3
    • 3 years ago

    What happened to AMD’s K12 ARM CPU they were working on?

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Backburner’ed. Hope they didn’t ditch it entirely, but skating where the puck isn’t is kind of their MO (Adreno pre-mobile boom)

    • ozzuneoj
    • 3 years ago

    I can’t wait to see how the 835’s Windows performance compares to the Celeron and Pentium N series chips that end up in cheap laptops. Those things range from laughably slow to not very fast, yet they are native x86 chips and have a much higher TDP. It’s kind of hard to imagine how top-end phone SoCs and bottom end laptop CPUs compare in general, and adding an emulation layer makes it even harder.

    • xDoritox
    • 3 years ago

    Very nice, but still, where’s ma Surface Phone? Apple phones cost too much for my liking, and 95% of Android phones never get software updates after the first year.

    • odizzido
    • 3 years ago

    Maybe this will inspire someone to make a netbook sized laptop again?

    • blastdoor
    • 3 years ago

    I guess it makes sense for Qualcomm to try. The SOC exists, might as well try to sell it as widely as possible. And similarly, I guess it makes sense for Microsoft to try and apply some pressure to Intel by making an ARM-compatible Windows.

    But I predict total failure here. non-x86 versions of Windows have never been successful, but not from a lack of trying. Furthermore, Qualcomm’s ARM SOCs aren’t really very impressive — clearly inferior to Apple, not obviously better than generic ARM cores.

    If Microsoft (or someone else in the PC space, though I don’t know who it would be) were to ever go the Apple route and build a world class SOC design team to really build a first rate ARM core, then maybe — maybe — this would have legs. But I doubt that will happen.

    Bottom line is that “Win” and “tel” are inseparable — always has been, always will be.

      • Flying Fox
      • 3 years ago

      If the 835 can emulate x86 apps at speeds similar to the Atoms (not the really bad ones, the most recent ones that can do OOO executions), with power consumption substantially lower, then there is a chance. If it can even beat out the Atoms that will be just gravy.

      I would consider a Surface (non Pro) with a 835 at the 299-349 range, perhaps stretching up to 450. Remember the Surface 3 starts at 500, so longer battery life, lighter, similar (if not better) performance over the Atoms. Why not?

      Remember this isn’t the RT where no x86 apps can be run. There is now a WoW layer to run these things with little performance hit (pending test verification of course). So apps is not a problem here.

        • chuckula
        • 3 years ago

        [quote<]There is now a WoW layer to run these things with little performance hit (pending test verification of course). So apps is not a problem here.[/quote<] Yeah, but having to go level grinding just to run minesweeper is going to be annoying.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 3 years ago

    This combined with the ability to package desktop apps for the Store should make the platform more attractive. That might be just what Microsoft needs to spur developers to get to making “Universal” apps.

    • Takeshi7
    • 3 years ago

    That’s great and all, but I’m not interested in a Snapdragon 835. When will we have desktop PCs based on Centriq 2400?

      • Flying Fox
      • 3 years ago

      Server chip in desktop PC? These 835’s are meant for laptops, where battery life is very important. Essentially this is the replacement (plan B?) after Intel gave up on Atoms.

      My question is: will we see a Surface (non Pro) with no number to round out the product line?

        • swaaye
        • 3 years ago

        I think it will end up making more sense to look at fleabay for the previous year’s Skylake / Kaby Lake hardware.

        I also wonder about long term support. The Win RT tablets and such didn’t sell well of course and are already abandoned and stuck with Windows 8.1 forever. Same story with almost anything Android.

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