Qualcomm, known for its Snapdragon ARM SoCs, claims the company is “very well positioned to be the platform of choice for PCs in the inevitable ARM transition.” The comments came during the company’s Investor Day presentation in 2021. It’s a very big statement.
Snapdragon System-on-Chips (SoCs) are often found in high-performance mobile devices because of their very good performance per watt, a trait common to ARM devices in general, but they don’t have the raw performance to compete with established CPUs from Intel and AMD. That could change if new ARM cores from Nuvia, a recently acquired division of Qualcomm, can deliver performance you’d expect from a well-spec PC or high-performance gaming laptop.
Nuvia developed CPU cores from the ground up to support PC workloads that are less energy efficient. In addition, as reported by Tom’s Hardware, the Adreno GPUs are designed to be scaled to the level of discrete PC graphics cards. That means, of course, they could end up somewhere in between a GTX 1050 or an RTX 3080, but if you let your team develop a GPU with 20 times the power budget of a phone GPU, the resulting performance could be very interesting indeed.
ARM devices are gradually penetrating beyond the cellular market. Apple is committed to ARM with its excellent and amazingly efficient M1 SoCs. Nvidia, lacking an x86 license, is looking to buy ARM outright, and Microsoft is stepping up efforts to support the ARM ecosystem with upcoming support for Windows 11 Android apps. Windows support is seen as an important step towards widespread ARM adoption.
But it’s a long way. Decades of solid software development practices mean that large numbers of PC applications and games alike must be redesigned to support ARM instruction sets, a task that is easier said than done. Emulation alone won’t get the best out of software or hardware. If Qualcomm manages to break into the high-performance computing market, it will keep Intel, AMD and Nvidia on their toes, especially as their products tend to consume more and more electricity. More competition and better choice for consumers are always welcome. Qualcomm is well on the way to releasing its powerful Nuvia design in 2023, with prototypes in mid-2022.
While you wait to see what Qualcomm can deliver, you might be able to snag a Black Friday bargain. Check out our Black Friday CPU Deals page. Black Friday in 2023 could get interesting when ARM CPUs and Adreno GPUs hit competition from Intel, Nvidia and AMD, not to mention the big fruit-branded company.