Back in July, the new CEO of Qualcomm Cristiano Amon made a big statement: he wants to beat Apple Silicon. He didn’t go into too much detail though, other than that the key plan behind that goal will involve the acquisition of Nuvia, a startup founded by a bunch of ex-Apple engineers. Now that some time has passed though we’ve gotten a clearer picture of just how Qualcomm wants to challenge Apple in the ARM processor space.
During its recent 2021 investor day event, Qualcomm’s Chief Technology Officer Dr James Thompson revealed that they are planning their next generation of CPUs for Windows PCs to launch sometime in 2023, with samples of their new silicon to be ready by 2022. The new target is now not only to compete against Apple Silicon and their M-series processors for laptops and desktops, but also to have better sustained performance and battery life. Qualcomm also wants to scale up their Adreno GPU capabilities to match the performance of desktop-class GPUs.
As Amon first noted earlier this year, a lot of this will come down to the Nuvia team. Having bought Nuvia for USD1.4 billion in January, the Nuvia team not only consists of ex-Apple staff, but crucially ex-Apple staff that worked on the wildly successful A-series chips that power the iPhone and iPad.
As for whether these new CPUs will actually live up to their claims remains to be seen. Qualcomm processors for Windows machines already exist of course, with the likes of the Snapdragon 8CX lineup as well as the SQ1 and SQ2 on the Microsoft Surface X. But those weren’t exactly good, especially when compared to the Apple M1. In fact, one third party reviewer found that Windows 10 emulated on an M1 MacBook Pro ran better than Windows 10 natively on the Surface X SQ2.
That being said though, it’s certainly an exciting time for ARM and hardware fans in general, with the rivalry between Qualcomm and Apple poising up to be almost as compelling as the competition between Intel and AMD over on the x86 side of things. Hopefully, we’ll hear more from Qualcomm about their CPU plans in the upcoming Snapdragon Tech Summit happening later this month.
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