Qualcomm processors power many of the world’s fastest smartphones. But the company has a relative newcomer to the PC space. The first Windows PCs featuring Qualcomm chips began shipping just a few years ago, and the first Qualcomm-powered Chromebooks just started to hit the streets earlier this year.

And most of the PCs with Qualcomm chips released to date have been significantly slower than similarly-priced models with Intel or AMD chips. But Qualcomm says that could change with its next-gen chips, which the company says are expected to arrive in consumer devices in 2023.

Rival chip maker Apple has already shown that it’s possible to offer industry-leading performance using ARM-based processors. Macs with Apple’s M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max chips offer better single-core performance and better performance-per-watt than just about anything on the market  right now.

So in an effort to catch up, Qualcomm acquired chip designer Nuvia earlier this year. The company, which was founded by chip designers from Apple, Google, ARM, AMD, and Broadcom. One of the co-founders was former chief architect for Apple’s CPU designs up until a few years ago.

Now Qualcomm says its first chips produced using technology from Nuvia will begin sampling to customers in around 9 months or so and they could hit the streets sometime in 2023.

While the company isn’t sharing many specific details about the upcoming chips, the company did outline some goals during its Qualcomm Investor Day 2021 presentation:

  • The goal is to have the highest performance low-power CPU in the industry.
  • In addition to increased CPU performance, Qualcomm says its Adreno graphics can scale up to desktop-class performance (so the same architecture can deliver 0.3 TFLOPs for low-power wearables or over 15 TFLOPs for high-end gaming hardware).
  • Other technologies developed for mobile devices can also help Qualcomm’s PC chips stand out from x86 processors, including integrated 5G modems and hardware-accelerated AI and camera capabilities.

More details should be available closer to launch.

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5 replies on “Qualcomm’s answer to Apple Silicon is coming in 2023 (high-performance chips for Windows PCs)”

  1. I don’t care what anyone says, I won’t let myself be shamed into buying a PC that I can’t install whatever OS I want on it.
    Are they going to be Systemready? Will they have an unlocked bootloader so I can just boot a generic .ISO? If so, fine! Until then I’m never going to be interested.

  2. The company best placed for Windows Arm PC, after Apple. Is Nvidia but they have moved to other market space. They have Arm SoC experience , Mobile Laptop and gaming experience as well as desktop Windows PC.

  3. Not seeing how Qualcomm is going to beat TSMC with Samsung silicon. They make great wireless modems, but everything else is pretty mediocre.

    1. Did they confirm that they’re going to use Samsung’s process? I mean, the main reason for sticking with Samsung might be the limited capacity available from TSMC, but if they actually want to beat the M1 and its successors (without drawing Alder Lake’s level of electric power) they will clearly need to move to TSMC.

      1. It doesn’t matter when comparing Samsung’s 6nm to 5nm TSMC.
        What will affect the performance the most will be the other tings, when comparing the “Large-Snapdragon” to the Apple M1/Pro/X.

        First of all, Apple has the head start with release date. So by the time this will be purchasable, we can expect an M2-variants already in the hands of consumers.

        Second of all, we are talking about Apple’s industry leading processor architecture (custom Firestorm/Icestorm), versus (fairly stock Cortex X1/A78) Qualcomm’s less impressive architecture. There is likely to be big ramifications here in terms of both performance and efficiency just by design.

        Thirdly, Apple has ported their iOS System into OS X, and the resulting macOS is very impressive. It is very optimised for the M1 devices. Not to mention, the SDK is very powerful when writing Applications by taking advantage of Swift + Metal. Windows 10 gets close with C# and DirectX 12.5, however, the operating system itself isn’t that optimised for the device (needs to run on so many other types of hardware).

        Fourthly, Applications.
        I can already see Apple slowly getting more and more apps ported and developed specifically for macOS/M1. And not just small indie devs, but the largest studios out there like Adobe. Whilst in the Windows ecosystem, the x86 platform dominates, but there’s far less momentum by developers. They aren’t making or porting to the ARM architecture as enthusiastically. Which means one thing: backwards compatibility. The last time I saw x86 being software emulated on ARM, I commended Microsoft for doing it. But the penalty to the efficiency and performance was huge (less than I expected, but still very big). Contrast that with Rosetta-2 on Apple, which does Hybrid-Translation, so apps running via backwards compatibility actually run fairly fast.

        Now add it all up!
        The Apple M1 will potentially use a better node, a better architecture, a better OS, to run more optimised Applications. The Windows 11-ARM device with this Qualcomm chipset won’t be competitive. And things look more dire when you factor in the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, and realistically, the Apple M2 will be out before this ever ships. So its just even less likely to be competitive at that point. And then WHEN (not if) you need to run a Program that requires software emulation, it’s just going to be slow…. whereas you are less likely to need to on Apple, but even when you do use Rosetta-2 you will at least have acceptable performance.

        …so yeah :\ I dunno, maybe Qualcomm should just do this but with large screen tablets running Android ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

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