Not just for smartphones, Qualcomm wants its latest processor to be a PC platform.
Enlarge / Qualcomm’s prototype of a Snapdragon 835 motherboard has an area of 50.4 square centimetres.
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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon ARM-based systems-on-chips are mainstays of the smartphone world, but the company is now positioning them as more than just smartphone processors: in conjunction with Microsoft and the new Windows 10 for ARM processors, Qualcomm is now pitching the chips as components of a new PC platform that brings together the best of the PC and the smartphone.
The Snapdragon 835 chip, incorporating Qualcomm’s latest X16 LTE modem, forms the basis of the Snapdragon Mobile PC Platform. Qualcomm claims that using the Snapdragon platform will offer a combination of the PC form factor and breadth of software with features that are standard in smartphones: on-the-go connectivity, light weight, silent operation, long battery life, and no fan.
Qualcomm says that PCs built using the new chips will offer up to 50 percent more battery life than x86 systems, with four- to five-times longer standby times. They’ll take the Connected Standby capability already found in some Windows PCs—this allows the system to do things like sync mail and receive notifications even when “sleeping”—and make it better, thanks to their LTE connectivity.
With a Snapdragon inside your PC, you’ll no longer need Wi-Fi to fetch your latest e-mail and catch up on Twitter. Instead, you’ll be able to get online wherever there’s cellular connectivity. The X16 modem supports up to gigabit LTE connections, too. So as long as your network operator is cooperative and has embraced the cutting edge, this mobile connection will be fast, too.
Enlarge / The company says that a comparable x86 motherboard has an area of 98.1 square centimetres.
Asus, HP, and Lenovo are all planning to introduce Snapdragon Mobile PC systems at some unspecified time in the future, for some unspecified price. These machines will be laptop-style systems, just without the traditional x86 processor on the inside. Snapdragon 835 has a higher level of integration than Intel’s mobile chips, enabling, as the Qualcomm-provided pictures above show, smaller motherboards. This in turn should tend to increase the space available for battery, or reduce the size and weight of machines, or perhaps even both.
Windows 10 for ARM is Microsoft’s second attempt at building a version of Windows for ARM chips. That previous effort, named Windows RT, flopped on the market due to a crippling shortage of software. This time around, things may do better, not least because the new operating system will include x86 emulation, giving it the ability to run 32-bit Windows desktop applications unmodified. Given the laptop form factor, we’re not expecting this capability to be restricted to, for example, plugged-in scenarios. Instead, we’d expect that they’ll be able to seamlessly run x86 applications without any obvious indication that they’re doing so.