Bloomberg reports that the next Surface RT tablet produced by Microsoft will use Qualcomm as the SoC supplier in addition to Nvidia. The news arrives by way of unnamed sources who said the Qualcomm chips will provide fast wireless data connections while Nvidia will supply its new Tegra chip for some versions.
Based on that info, Microsoft likely chose Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, 600 or 400 at the very least, all three of which provide integrated 4G LTE and Wireless N connectivity. Nvidia's Tegra 4i, which also sports the same connectivity, likely wasn't ready in time to fit within Microsoft's next-gen Surface RT plans – phones based on this chip aren't even expected to arrive until early 2014. It's also not designed for tablet use.
That said, it's believed that one version of the next-gen Surface RT tablet will sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC for 4G LTE connectivity while Wi-Fi only models will have Nvidia's Tegra 4. We already know the Tegra 4 is ready for mass consumption, as it's packed in the Shield handheld slated to launch next week and inside a number of tablets arriving this summer.
To be honest, this may be one of the reasons why Microsoft is selling the current Surface RT tablet at a "fire sale" discount to schools and colleges: to flush out the current stock of first-gen units. There's likely a stockpile of unsold units, as Windows RT on a whole commanded less than one percent of the market share in the first quarter compared to 40 percent owned by Apple.
Microsoft hasn't officially announced plans for a new Surface RT device, but has talked up the details surrounding the "blue" update arriving on Windows 8 and Windows RT later this year. For the latter, Outlook RT 2013 will finally make its debut, joining current Office apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Just recently, sources in the supply chain said that most big-brand vendors have placed their Windows RT plans on hold, and that Microsoft's own Surface RT sequel is the only device in the works. Perhaps then that ODMS are waiting to see how consumers take to a new Surface RT product with Windows RT 8.1 installed, offering a more unified experience than the first-generation model.
Adding Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, 600 or 400 would be a crucial move for Microsoft, as it would enable consumers and businesses to take the device on the road without the need for tethering. It still doesn't solve the inability to run x86 software on an ARM-based platform, but it does provide a cheaper alternative with 4G LTE connectivity compared to the x86-based Surface Pro model.