Windows computers have been available with ARM-based chips for years, but the OS still doesn’t work as optimally as it does on x86. That hasn’t stopped Qualcomm from rolling out ever more powerful laptop chips like the current-gen Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3. At Qualcomm’s 2022 Snapdragon Summit, the company is pushing the idea that ARM is the future for Windows computing thanks in large part to its dedicated AI processing.
In an x86 system, there are two processing pipelines; the CPU and GPU. When running AI-intensive tasks, the CPU and GPU have high resource consumption, which means high power draw. A Snapdragon chip, on the other hand, has a Hexagon digital signal processor, which excels at AI tasks. Snapdragon chips are designed to intelligently offload tasks to the AI engine to free up resources.
Executives from Microsoft, Adobe, and Citi were on hand at the Snapdragon Summit in support of Qualcomm’s low power platform with on board dedicated accelerator cores is the way to go. Microsoft pointed to its partnership with Qualcomm on the SQ3 chipset for the new Surface Pro 9 5G, which has a raft of AI-enhanced features, including Windows Studio Voice Focus, Background Blur, Automatic Framing, and Eye Contact Correction.
Adobe previously added support for Snapdragon AI compute to its Sensei machine learning tool, accelerating performance in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro. It says more Creative Cloud apps will benefit from Snapdragon AI processing in 2023. Citi doesn’t have anything consumer-facing to talk about, but it is apparently planning to move 70% of its workforce to Qualcomm mobile compute products like the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s .
Most of the current Snapdragon chips rely on CPU cores under Qualcomm’s Kryo brand. Earlier Kryo cores were custom architectures, but they have since switched to off-the-shelf ARM Cortex designs. Qualcomm offered a teaser of its next mobile CPU, which it calls Oryon.
This SoC will be the first CPU design to come out of the company’s acquisition of Nuvia and could power the company’s next-gen Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4. Qualcomm Oryon will also employ a custom CPU architecture based on the Arm instruction set, but it will not be an off-the-shelf Arm core architecture. The company committed to delivering the product in the market starting in 2023.
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