Qualcomm presented its new Snapdragon 835, the new generation of mobile processors that come mostly with surprises in the field of efficiency but also also gain integers in raw power.
The manufacturer promises specific data: 27% more performance and 40% less consumption than the Snapdragon 820. The miracle has an explanation: 10 nm gives scope for many areas, but above all open the door to the future of Windows 10 in Smartphones, tablets and even PCs and laptops based on this processor. This promises, gentlemen.
Windows 10 opens in ARM
The four Kryo 280 to 2.45 GHz kernels are combined with four other 1.9 GHz kernels that combine to adapt to different usage scenarios more or less demanding, and to them are added the new integrated GPU, an Adreno 540 that in Qualcomm have targeted their use with Daydream and virtual reality content.
Whether this is a gimmick or not, that GPU will also help, and a lot, when it comes to moving the graphical Windows 10 environment, which is one of the basic components for an acceptable use experience.
There are many factors in mind, of course, but it seems that Intel and AMD will be a serious competitor in that segment of modest equipment in which aspects such as efficiency and not power are differential. And that’s where ARM processors like the Snapdragon 835 can make a difference.
A second chance for Windows in ARM
Does anyone remember Windows RT? That version of the operating system was destined to convertible tablets based on processors with architecture ARM. A priori everything promised: the Windows experience was basically the same in appearance, and Microsoft included a version of Office prepared for these computers.
The problem is that the experience was not the same, neither in performance nor especially in a software catalog that shone through absences: too many applications could not be executed in equipment like Surface RT or Surface 2, and the disaster ended up causing a Hole of 900 million dollars.
The experiment ended soon after: the presentation of the Surface 3 made the “lite” version of the Surface Pro adopt x86 processors to abandon the ARM micros of previous models, and with that improvement also came the full version of Windows 8, which made That Windows RT ceased to make sense in the Microsoft catalog. The ARM architecture had no place for Microsoft … for the moment.
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Win32 emulation in ARM could be the penultimate cartridge
The failure of Microsoft in the mobility segment is evident: there are no new terminals for months, and the presence of Windows 10 in these devices is anecdotal. With only partners who support that strategy – the HP Elite x3 is the only relevant proposal in recent months – the Redmond company seemed to not have too many cartridges to burn.
And when we least expected it, boom. Microsoft confirmed the support of Windows 10 and x86 (Win32) applications on ARM by Qualcomm, something that was backed by rumors that had appeared hours before and that shows how a test device based on a Snapdragon 835 could run Windows 10 And its applications thanks to the emulation.
This support will theoretically arrive in March 2017 to laptops based on this type of processor, and although Qualcomm did not mention this feature in the presentation of their Snapdragon 835, the demonstration we saw at the WinHEC event made it clear.
Qualcomm and Microsoft announced in December that they are collaborating to bring the Snapdragon to “cellular PCs” this year, which demonstrates the interest in launching convertible laptops or tablets with constant mobile connectivity that will be based on Windows 10. The inclusion of connectivity LTE, Bluetooth 5 and WiFi 802.11ac of these chips guarantees that constant connectivity, and that could be one of the winning tricks of those teams for mobile workers.
The advantages will also come in efficiency because among other things laptops that will compete with those future models have less space for batteries. The small size of the Snapdragon 835 helps to introduce higher capacity batteries even in ultra-thin devices, and features such as QuickCharge 4 will help these products load quickly.
That does not prevent that there are not big doubts and uncertainties about what we can expect from these devices in terms of benefits. Can all legacy applications in Windows 10 really run? Will the emulation hardware be enough to offer acceptable performance in different scenarios? Will the prices of these products be competitive?
Those questions will have their answer, but this will not come until we can see in action those future teams. The promise of Windows 10 in ARM is there. Now just let the history of Windows RT not be repeated.