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Microsoft Said to Use Qualcomm, Intel Chips in New Surfaces

By , photo by Marcus Yam - Source: Bloomberg | B 0 comment

Could Microsoft be prepping more than one Surface for launch this month?

Microsoft is gearing up to host a Surface event in New York City in a couple of weeks and the general consensus is that we'll finally be getting a look at the Surface Mini. What's inside this new, smaller version of the Surface tablet remains to be seen. Past rumors have talked about an ARM-based SoC, but nothing beyond that. According to the latest scuttlebutt, there could actually be two.

Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans talked to Bloomberg this week and revealed that Microsoft will unveil a Qualcomm-powered Surface as opposed to sticking with Nvidia (whose Tegra 4 powered the Windows RT-based Surface 2). Additional versions of the device being unveiled at the same event will apparently run on Intel chips.

The event itself is scheduled for May 20, so we have nearly two weeks of rumors before Microsoft puts us out of our misery. Other talk of the device has indicated a 7.5- or 8-inch display with a 1400 x 1050 resolution, Windows RT 8.1, and an integrated Wacom digitizer for stylus input.

The current generation Surface 2 (successor to the original Surface RT) is based on Tegra 4. With Nvidia's Tegra K1 not yet on the market, it could simply be a case of timing for Microsoft. Though Tegra K1 is expected around Q2, there's only two devices lined up to use K1, and one of those is Nvidia's own Jetson TK1 development board. We'll be sure to quiz Microsoft on the reasoning later this month. For now, no one is talking.

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  • -1 Hide
    danwat1234 , May 7, 2014 9:42 AM
    Not atom?
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , May 7, 2014 11:35 AM
    If its not Atom it will have no battery life, if its not AMD it will have no power.
  • 1 Hide
    ethanolson , May 7, 2014 12:38 PM
    Everyone and their brother uses Qualcomm it seems, so I'm beginning to think that NVidia has some stupid way of doing business that most companies don't seem to want to deal with, eh?
  • Display all 11 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    renz496 , May 7, 2014 1:06 PM
    Quote:
    Everyone and their brother uses Qualcomm it seems, so I'm beginning to think that NVidia has some stupid way of doing business that most companies don't seem to want to deal with, eh?


    the talk about Surface Mini using Qualcomm chip has been circulating since late last year. i heard that Surface mini was suppose to launch late last year but it has been postpone. and from what i can see so far Qualcomm is more popular between phone maker and nvidia chip are more popular with pc maker. also while there are rumors about next surface will be powered by the new tegra but personally i'm not sure if nvidia themselves will be interested powering another surface. JHH admit openly about his disappointment with surface.

    http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-10-02/news/42617562_1_surface-tablet-tegra-nvidia
  • 0 Hide
    jimmysmitty , May 7, 2014 2:38 PM
    Quote:
    If its not Atom it will have no battery life, if its not AMD it will have no power.


    How is that? Haswell has very good power numbers and as well has an insane standby state (even the desktop ones can drop to .05a in standby).

    That said, more than likely it will be Atom if this is for the RT version of Surface as it always has been. Only the Pro uses full CPUs.

    I also don't get the "no AMD, no power" part. In terms of what it is to compete against the current Atom CPUs iGPU has been shown to compete pretty well with current ARM iGPUs.
  • 1 Hide
    somebodyspecial , May 7, 2014 10:08 PM
    Surface mini was never said to be a tegra device. Considering smaller devices are carried around more, they may have just went with the easier modem choice. With i500 just getting certified on ATT in mid Nov2013, they may not have had time to get it into a Mini. Either way it's no loss as MS devices don't sell well and I don't know why Jen would chase poor sellers. I'd rather he chase nexus devices (hopefully the 1920x1200 gaming FOCUSED tablet rumors are true with Tegra), and the half of samsung devices using qcom (when they dual launch with krait/exynos).

    This would be bigger news if they said replacing tegra in surface 2 (as in surface 3, which the mini is not).

    I count 4 devices coming with K1. Shield 2 (benchmarked already), tegra tab7R2 (already benchmarked also, PNY, MSI, Evga etc probably will make these too as it's a ref design for others to copy like the first version), the AIO (lenovo thinkvision 28in), and Jetson.

    "Wrote LAPTOP Magazine in awarding Tegra K1 its Best in Show award, “…the Tegra K1 could usher in a new era of Android gaming where the leading publishers release their AAA titles to Google’s open source OS at the same time as Windows and Xbox – and ahead of iOS.”

    That's what I'm waiting for, and we're seeing devs shift to mobile massively (see GDC 2013 & 2014 surveys). Valve and google both pushing something OTHER than DirectX/Windows will speed this up now that GPU's from desktops will also be running on SOCs. AMD better hurry up an join the party (preferably with their desktop gpu in a soc too).
  • 1 Hide
    2Be_or_Not2Be , May 8, 2014 1:33 PM
    I'm really not too concerned with the Surface Mini. What I want is the Surface Pro 2 with LTE! Stock of the Surface Pro 2 seems to be very limited everywhere, if not out completely. Even Microsoft's store is out of several models.

    I really, really hope that some new Pro 2's with different broadband options will be announced in addition to the Mini.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , May 9, 2014 12:21 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    If its not Atom it will have no battery life, if its not AMD it will have no power.


    How is that? Haswell has very good power numbers and as well has an insane standby state (even the desktop ones can drop to .05a in standby).

    That said, more than likely it will be Atom if this is for the RT version of Surface as it always has been. Only the Pro uses full CPUs.

    I also don't get the "no AMD, no power" part. In terms of what it is to compete against the current Atom CPUs iGPU has been shown to compete pretty well with current ARM iGPUs.


    I thought the RT version was an ARM because its not an x86 based platform. The tablet has to draw very little power compared to a laptop, so I don't see a Haswell performing within that power envelope while someone is using it. Idle states can be damned, who wants to buy a tablet to have it Idle all the time?
    In this low power arena, AMD is currently coming out on top with a 6 hour battery life, superior per core performance, and superior GPU performance than anything within its power envelope. It puzzles me why we are not seeing more AMD powered tablets considering this thrashing is akin to Athlon verse Pentium IV.
  • 0 Hide
    2Be_or_Not2Be , May 9, 2014 8:28 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    If its not Atom it will have no battery life, if its not AMD it will have no power.


    How is that? Haswell has very good power numbers and as well has an insane standby state (even the desktop ones can drop to .05a in standby).

    That said, more than likely it will be Atom if this is for the RT version of Surface as it always has been. Only the Pro uses full CPUs.

    I also don't get the "no AMD, no power" part. In terms of what it is to compete against the current Atom CPUs iGPU has been shown to compete pretty well with current ARM iGPUs.


    I thought the RT version was an ARM because its not an x86 based platform. The tablet has to draw very little power compared to a laptop, so I don't see a Haswell performing within that power envelope while someone is using it. Idle states can be damned, who wants to buy a tablet to have it Idle all the time?
    In this low power arena, AMD is currently coming out on top with a 6 hour battery life, superior per core performance, and superior GPU performance than anything within its power envelope. It puzzles me why we are not seeing more AMD powered tablets considering this thrashing is akin to Athlon verse Pentium IV.


    Apparently you've never seen the Surface Pro 2 numbers. They use an Intel Core i5 processor, and numerous 3rd-party tests have shown it reach 7.5-8.5hrs of use. That is significantly more than the 6-hour battery life you quoted for the AMD. The i5's performance also blows away any AMD platform in performance per watt (I say this as one who loved my Athlon X3-720).

    You also don't understand idle states. If you are sitting there reading a web page, then the processor could go into an idle state right away. So you could spend a minute, two minutes, 5 minutes, or whatever reading it; it's sitting there saving power the whole time. It only goes back up to full power when you interact with it. There are a lot of situations where efficient power management can save little chunks of power here and there. All of those little chunks of time spent in a lower idling state add up to be a significant savings in power in everyday usage.

    AMD is in a tough situation. They have neither the most powerful performance-per-watt (Intel does), nor do they have the lowest power-using processor (ARM does). So that is why you don't see more AMD tablets. I personally hope they continue to work on improving their mobile solutions. Competition is always good for the consumer!

    Edit: Surface Pro 2 benchmark from Anandtech.
  • 1 Hide
    jimmysmitty , May 9, 2014 7:41 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    If its not Atom it will have no battery life, if its not AMD it will have no power.


    How is that? Haswell has very good power numbers and as well has an insane standby state (even the desktop ones can drop to .05a in standby).

    That said, more than likely it will be Atom if this is for the RT version of Surface as it always has been. Only the Pro uses full CPUs.

    I also don't get the "no AMD, no power" part. In terms of what it is to compete against the current Atom CPUs iGPU has been shown to compete pretty well with current ARM iGPUs.


    I thought the RT version was an ARM because its not an x86 based platform. The tablet has to draw very little power compared to a laptop, so I don't see a Haswell performing within that power envelope while someone is using it. Idle states can be damned, who wants to buy a tablet to have it Idle all the time?
    In this low power arena, AMD is currently coming out on top with a 6 hour battery life, superior per core performance, and superior GPU performance than anything within its power envelope. It puzzles me why we are not seeing more AMD powered tablets considering this thrashing is akin to Athlon verse Pentium IV.


    The lowest power part AMD has is the E1 Micro 6200T, a part designed for tablets, at a 3.95W TDP. When Intel first released Atom in 2008 they had one with a TDP of 0.65-2w. This was on a 45nm process compared to 28nm in AMDs Puma.

    That same AMD tablet CPU is a dual core with 1MB L2 running at 1GHz with a turbo of up to 1.4GHz and a SDP (Scenario Design Power) of 2.8w. Intels current top end tablet Atom, the Z3795, has a clock speed of 1.59GHz with a "Burst Speed" (think Turbo) of up to 2.39GHz all on 4 cores and 2MB L2.

    I don't think power is something Intel has an issue with. They even have 11.5w i3 CPUs and tablets tend to have the ability to sport faster, more powerful CPUs due to larger battery life and larger thermal dissipation areas.

    As to why you are not seeing more AMD tablets? Two reasons. First is that AMD has announced they will not be targeting low end tablets. They will only do high end tablets. Second is because the market is already heavily saturated with various ARM CPUs. Even Intel is not as heavily vested in that market as they want to be.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , May 9, 2014 9:51 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    If its not Atom it will have no battery life, if its not AMD it will have no power.


    How is that? Haswell has very good power numbers and as well has an insane standby state (even the desktop ones can drop to .05a in standby).

    That said, more than likely it will be Atom if this is for the RT version of Surface as it always has been. Only the Pro uses full CPUs.

    I also don't get the "no AMD, no power" part. In terms of what it is to compete against the current Atom CPUs iGPU has been shown to compete pretty well with current ARM iGPUs.


    I thought the RT version was an ARM because its not an x86 based platform. The tablet has to draw very little power compared to a laptop, so I don't see a Haswell performing within that power envelope while someone is using it. Idle states can be damned, who wants to buy a tablet to have it Idle all the time?
    In this low power arena, AMD is currently coming out on top with a 6 hour battery life, superior per core performance, and superior GPU performance than anything within its power envelope. It puzzles me why we are not seeing more AMD powered tablets considering this thrashing is akin to Athlon verse Pentium IV.


    The lowest power part AMD has is the E1 Micro 6200T, a part designed for tablets, at a 3.95W TDP. When Intel first released Atom in 2008 they had one with a TDP of 0.65-2w. This was on a 45nm process compared to 28nm in AMDs Puma.

    That same AMD tablet CPU is a dual core with 1MB L2 running at 1GHz with a turbo of up to 1.4GHz and a SDP (Scenario Design Power) of 2.8w. Intels current top end tablet Atom, the Z3795, has a clock speed of 1.59GHz with a "Burst Speed" (think Turbo) of up to 2.39GHz all on 4 cores and 2MB L2.

    I don't think power is something Intel has an issue with. They even have 11.5w i3 CPUs and tablets tend to have the ability to sport faster, more powerful CPUs due to larger battery life and larger thermal dissipation areas.

    As to why you are not seeing more AMD tablets? Two reasons. First is that AMD has announced they will not be targeting low end tablets. They will only do high end tablets. Second is because the market is already heavily saturated with various ARM CPUs. Even Intel is not as heavily vested in that market as they want to be.


    I don't think we are seeing the same numbers. Bay Trail Atom Processors which run in the same power envelop as Tamesh based APUs are what I am looking at. Not any super promises about the future of Mullins and Silver Mount. The Atom based processors are looking at around 8 hours of battery life, the APU around 6 hours, the i3 around 2 hours in a tablet form factor. Now comparing either of these CPUs to the per core performance on the i3 is absurd because we are talking about completely different power envelops. Thus my comment, if its not atom it has no battery life.
    Comparing the Atom to the APU, the APU has about a 50-60% better IPC performance but loses out to the higher MHz on the Atom, thus the very simple analogy that its like Athlon verse Pentium IV.
    If we simply wanted GPU performance, everything under the sun will lose to AMD as long as there is no discrete card. The only way an Intel would be competitive with this low bin APU's GPU performance is if they use a $1000 Desktop Chip.