Skip to main content

Expect the First Windows 8 Snapdragon PC Late 2012

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, speaking during the San Diego semiconductor company's annual analyst day in New York, said Qualcomm is currently working with Microsoft to ensure that the upcoming Windows 8 operating system will run on its ARM-based Snapdragon SoCs. Currently he expects to see the majority of Windows 8-based products to launch after the end of fiscal 2012 which ends in September of next year. That said, Snapdragon-powered Windows 8 desktops and notebooks are expected hit the market around the same time.

During the event, Qualcomm COO Steve Mollenkopf added that Snapdragon PCs will have an edge over Windows 8 solutions provided by AMD and Intel because people mostly want the same features they love on their smartphones and tablets on their desktops and laptops. To some degree, he makes a good point, as major companies like Google, Intel, Toshiba and many others are working to bridge the portable and desktop together by integrating the "app experience" into the desktop and laptop.

"What developers are looking for will be dominated by what's happening on the phone," said Mollenkopf. "The phone itself will be the center of attention for developers. And then they'll say how can they adapt that for the car and home. It's much easier to go after the market if you have leadership in smartphones."

Naturally the big issue ARM-based PCs will face is the inability to run older Windows 7 or XP software. Windows Team boss Steven Sinofsky said earlier this year that "we've been very clear since the very first CES demos and forward that the ARM product won't run any x86 applications." But Mollenkopf said this won't really be an issue, as the key applications will be re-written for the ARM architecture. Many other popular programs are already running in the cloud and can be accessed through an Internet browser.

"For the apps that you really care about, I don't see it as a significant growth inhibitor in terms of ARM vs. Windows," he said. "I don't think the impact is as significant as what others believe."

On Wednesday the company also said that its upcoming 28-nm quad-core Snapdragon chips will initially appear in tablets in the second half of next year. These will be part of Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 product line that also includes single-core and dual-core solutions. The S4 chips are designed to run Windows 8, and includes an integrated 3G and 4G modem. Clock speeds run between 1.5 GHz and 2.5 GHz, and the chip's Adreno graphics core will support DirectX 9.3.