Qualcomm gets new competition for ARM-based Windows PCs • The Register

comment As Qualcomm struggles to meet its licensing deals to develop next-gen ARM chips for Windows PCs, the American chip designer is once again reminded that it will eventually face competition from a top competitor in the East.

Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek recently suggested plans to break up Qualcomm’s hold on Arm-based Windows PCs, providing a few more details after the company first announced its intentions last fall. Of course, that has nothing to do with this week’s Qualcomm summit.

MediaTek reported Monday that it will be tackling the Windows on Arm ecosystem with a variant of its Kompanio mobile processor currently powering Chromebooks. The company also plans to integrate its 5G radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and display engine technology into system-on-chips for Windows PCs.

In a statement, Vince Hu, vice president of the Compute Business Unit at MediaTek, seemed to indicate that the company plans to increase R&D spending to build CPU and GPU capabilities worthy of high-performance applications.

This would contrast with Qualcomm’s changed Windows-on-Arm strategy. The American chip designer plans to phase out CPUs with off-the-shelf Arm core designs in favor of custom cores from its Nuvia acquisition in 2021.

However, Arm is threatening Qualcomm’s custom core plans with a lawsuit aimed at destroying Qualy’s Nuvia technology for allegedly violating their licenses.

While the prospect of MediaTek breaking Qualcomm’s Windows-on-Arms monopoly is welcome to some, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Company executives said they view the PC market as a “long-term” opportunity and didn’t provide a timeline.

The unknown timeline for MediaTek’s entry into Windows PCs, combined with the Arm-Qualcomm lawsuit, doesn’t exactly bode well for Arm’s ambitions in the Windows PC market. The category is currently niche, thanks to Qualcomm’s current Snapdragon PC chips, which are considered lackluster even with a decent performance boost in the latest generation.

It’s true that Qualcomm hopes to fix this by using the custom Nuvia cores for next-gen Snapdragon processors. But if those efforts are stalled by the lawsuit involving Arm, it could mean we’ll have to wait longer for buzzing Arm-compatible chips.

And that, in turn, would continue to support Intel and AMD x86 CPUs, as well as Apple’s Arm-based M-series chips for Macs. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/16/qualcomm_arm_windows/ Qualcomm gets new competition for ARM-based Windows PCs • The Register

Rick Schindler

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