This morning at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, Microsoft’s EVP of Windows and Devices, Terry Myerson, is announcing the introduction of the first Windows 10 PCs to be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. It was almost a year ago to the day that the company first announced their partnership with Qualcomm, which would bring ARM support to Windows 10, but with x86 emulation, allowing all existing applications to work as well. The first PCs will be the ASUS NovaGo, which is a convertible laptop, and the HP ENVY x2 convertible tablet.

The ASUS NovaGo Laptop

This is exciting news on a couple of fronts. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, which was the processor first announced for Windows 10 on ARM, offers reasonable performance, but with lower power consumption than what we’ve been used to in the PC space, and especially in low-power states. Without having the devices in-hand, we still don’t know how the SD835 compares in performance to the competition. We should finally be able to answer that soon though.

The HP ENVY x2 Tablet

One of the key pieces of using a mobile SoC in a PC is the extra integration. Smartphones don’t have room for large circuit boards, while still providing room for all of the other equipment and batteries required, and mobile SoCs offer a lot more features integrated into the SoC than what a typical PC would, which allows for substantial board space savings over the competition. Back at Computex, Qualcomm was showing off the SD835 PC board compared to a competing 14nm Intel board, and the space savings were up to 30%. This allows smaller, thinner, and lighter devices, but with more battery capacity.

One of the major integrations with the SD835 compared to PC SoCs is the integrated cellular connectivity, which is one of the features that Microsoft is championing the most with this new partnership. There have been PCs with cellular cards added on for some time, but Qualcomm’s cellular tech is aimed at mobile, where always-on connectivity, and low-power usage, is a requirement. That same connectivity will be available on the PC as well, with an always-connected network connection providing a better user experience than what we’ve become accustomed to in the laptop world.

Battery life should also be a big win, and while we don’t have our own tests done yet, Microsoft’s information is claiming up to 30 days of standby and up to 22 hours of active use, while the detachable tablet-style HP ENVY x2 is claiming up to 20 hours of active use. That’s impressive, and blows past the all-day battery life that we’ve come to expect in a laptop, and should free a device up for a couple of days of use before charging. Terry Myerson has stated that he’s been getting up to a week of use out of a device before he needs to charge it.

The always-on nature of mobile brings other advantages too. The PCs will wake up instantly, just like you’d expect on your phone, or mobile tablet.

The ARM equipped devices will be running full Windows 10, so no desktop apps are left behind, unlike the previous time that Microsoft attempted this. The ARM chips at the time offered much less performance as well, so this time around, it should be a much better experience. Universal Windows Apps will be available compiled for ARM directly, but x86 apps will run in emulation, which is still a cause for concern for both performance and battery life, so we’ll have to see how that pans out. Microsoft has an “optimized” version of Office 365 for the new ARM powered PCs, which likely means it’s been recompiled for native performance.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the announcement is what added competition in this space should bring to the end-user. We have Qualcomm coming to the PC from the mobile space, where low-power has always been key, but the performance has been improving steadily, and we have Intel and AMD on the other side, coming from a high-performance but higher-power world, where integration of components into the SoC hasn’t been as high of a priority. It’ll be interesting to see where the convergence happens in the coming months.

Source: Microsoft

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  • HStewart - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    I think we need better data and this - Apple has pretty much a solid market on Schools - especially with iPad and even Macbooks

    I have yet to know a real person that actually owns a Chromebook personally.
  • ikjadoon - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    Yeah, I'm sure your conjectures on a country of 300+ million people (or globally) are more accurate than the data I linked. I think your problem is your small sample, ;)

    What's the point of more data...if we give you data and, instead of finding a methodological flaw or weak analysis, you just claim, "Uh. I don't know anyone who owns a Chromebook. So you can go ahead and throw out that market data. It's...uh...obviously wrong. Anandtech readers are a representative sample...of....uh...low-cost computing. I mean, at least computing. We...uh...yeah. We're really into what schools are buying...uh...they have IT. Actually, you know, I buy computer parts and computers...basically, we're the same population, me and IT departments at school districts. So, uh, please find me data that supports my reality. It is the data that is wrong--not me!"

    Just to clarify, if you know an education department sponsoring iPads and have very little idea of how much funding *most* education departments get. Get out of the headlines and start exploring your country for a moment, eh? Or maybe get out of an Apple ad spot, where they pander to teachers frequently? I've no idea where your logical fault lies, but the data is right in front of you.
  • ikjadoon - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    You lost all credibility will that last sentence: very few consumers are going to install a new operating system and even fewer will pick Linux (i.e., Hackintoshes).

    Who said "can hardly run x86 any acceptable speed"? Completely baseless speculation. See Qualcomm's benchmarks. This is MORE than good enough:

    Chromebooks are for people who don't want to run proper Windows. These are an enormous boon for normal consumers: familiarity of full Windows, battery life of tablets. It's actually going to do pretty well.

    It's not competing against Chromebooks, in functionality or performance. It's competing against entry-level laptops.
  • negusp - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    Wow. Your post is less credible than the average Trump tweet.

    First off, x86 emulation is very slow, and Geekbench supports this assertion. I could care less about the stupid benches Qualcomm does. However, that said, this platform will run basic x86 applications fine.

    The problem I have with these is the price. $600-700 is a ludicrous asking price for an ARM notebook- these are in no way competing with entry-level laptops.

    I posited Chromebooks as an example because Microsoft's ARM platform is basically targeting the same subset of consumers- power users who want good battery life and decent performance- in this case, with the added benefit of being able to run some x86 applications. Given that Chromebooks now basically have full Android app support along with the Chrome ecosystem I see no reason why ARM Windows should exist.
  • ikjadoon - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    >First off, x86 emulation is very slow

    Nope. Read the docs or watch the videos. Your emulation worrying sounds like you buried your head in the sand after Windows RT: wake up, it's 2017! ;D

    If you can't be bothered to learn about what you're hoping to criticize...oh, huh, that sounds like someone's tweets, eh? ;) Don't get left behind, gramps. Catch up now.

    >Geekbench supports this assertion

    Oh, gosh. I totally missed all the $800-laptop purchasers who were concerned with Geekbench. These are 5W SoCs--what did you expect?

    >However, that said, this platform will run basic x86 applications fine. you think most consumers run? What is the most popular application open on a typical consumer's laptop? And it's more than "fine"; I'd consider it an i5 in day-to-day usage.

    >The problem I have with these is the price. $600-700 is a ludicrous asking price for an ARM notebook- these are in no way competing with entry-level laptops.

    ...for you, a person who reads Anandtech and dares to quote Geekbench about comparing laptops. Come on--you must realize, normal consumers aren't like you. They don't care if the Geekbench is 10 or 20% faster/slower. They care how it feels. They care how long the battery life lasts.

    Chromebooks: maybe in a few purchasers mind, sure, they'll switch. But I think more people are drawn to their software simplicity (i.e., no viruses, no system file manager, no managing how many "GBs of files I have") of Chromebooks than their battery life or performance.

    >I posited Chromebooks as an example because Microsoft's ARM platform is basically targeting the same subset of consumers- power users who want good battery life and decent performance...Given that Chromebooks now basically have full Android app support along with the Chrome ecosystem I see no reason why ARM Windows should exist.

    You're joking.... Chromebooks are targeted at "power users"? I'll laugh for us both. Chromebooks are ultra-cheap laptops for people who don't want to deal with "computers", yet still want the familiarity of a web browser. This, this is not-technology-savy friends and family, this is "I just need to browse the web and I can't really pay more than $300 for that". That is the market of Chromebooks. The battery life is--on average--good to great. The performance is--across the board--"good enough for Chrome".

    But I do see a lot of people who have more money to spend, but they don't see a major appreciable difference in battery life between $500 and $1000 laptops. People are always clamoring for more battery life. You get 4 hours or 8 hours. That's not "changing your behavior".

    Or people who want a Windows taskbar with Windows file management.

    Or people who have a few random x86 programs they're attached to (i.e., specialized device-based software [dashcams, Android devices, etc) or a PDF editor or anything simple that we neglect Chromebooks won't ever be able to run).

    Or people who don't want an 11" screen (i.e., see most Chromebooks) and don't want to deal with all the hardware compromises a $300 notebook has (screen? keyboard? trackpad? input? build quality?).
  • mapesdhs - Thursday, December 7, 2017 - link

    And PS, Trump tweets are awesome. :)
  • jospoortvliet - Thursday, December 7, 2017 - link

    Yeah, they are fun the way somebody with down syndrome is: maybe fun in some ways but you shouldn't laugh as it is sad if anything.
  • Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer - Thursday, December 7, 2017 - link

    People who have been told their entire lives that they're intelligent are so easy to manipulate. You can flatter them by telling them how much smarter they are than the people you want them to look down on, and you can browbeat them into submission by calling their unorthodox opinions idiotic.
  • twotwotwo - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    I wonder if they have a plan, other than UWP, to make it easier to port x86 apps to run natively on ARM. There are also apps that aren't CPU bound or spend most of their CPU time in the kernel or MS-provided libraries; it's an open question to me how much is translated, how well it works, and practical performance overall. For sure won't run Crysis.

    The claimed 22 hour battery life + LTE connectivity are things my Chromebook Plus doesn't have, and it's priced at $350 (launched at $450). I'm not at all sure this will succeed, but it doesn't sound way off target compared to some other devices.
  • ikjadoon - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - link

    There's no porting. It's transparent emulation. Microsoft explains better here

    The programs are recompiled from x86 to ARM on first-run. Then Windows itself has extra DLLs that they've targeted to run ARM-native. In the end, everything....should just work like a normal laptop.

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