IDG News Service reports that Qualcomm is currently working on a quad-core version of its S4 SoC to be used in a new Windows 8 laptop form factor rivaling Intel's Ultrabook. This new design is expected to be thinner and lighter than Apple's MacBook Air and Intel's Ultrabook, and sport high-resolution screens, longer battery life, always-on connectivity and perhaps even 3D graphics.
"We think much lighter than what Intel calls an ultrabook," said Rob Chandhok, senior vice president at Qualcomm, adding that the lines between high-end smartphones and laptops have started to blur.
Qualcomm typically supplies its Snapdragon SoC for smartphones, but the company is looking to expand out into the PC sector. It has already shipped a few prototype Windows 8-based PCs with Snapdragon chips to developers, but with Intel's mega-push into the mobile PC sector, Qualcomm wants to provide an alternative with built-in 4G support and strong multimedia qualities.
Chandhok didn't provide any specifics about the new form factor. Did one specific party design the spec list (as Intel did), was it Qualcomm's idea, or was it a mutually agreed design across numerous manufacturers? It could possibly be the latter not wanting to rely solely on Intel by offering something similar if not superior. As for the S4 inside, it will be manufactured with a 28nm process for improved power efficiency and performance over earlier Snapdragon chips.
Qualcomm will join Nvidia and Texas Instruments in the Windows 8 race, but hopes to stand out by developing software that plays to Snapdragon's unique multimedia and cellular connectivity features. The company is even considering a 64-bit version of its SoC given Windows 8 will be 64-bit, but Chandhok wouldn't say when that would be released. 64-bit support will automatically be baked right into future ARM-based chips thanks to the upcoming ARMv8 architecture.
The new Ultrabook rival is expected to be released later this year when the second wave of Intel's Ultrabooks begin to splash onto the market. It will also compete against AMD's "Ultra Thin" form factor like the upcoming Asus U82U which sports the E-450 APU housing two Bobcat cores at 1.65 GHz and Radeon HD 6320 graphics.