Apple’s M processors, which the apple company has been using in its Mac computers for a year, will soon have competition. Qualcomm, the largest designer of processors for smartphones, plans to create a line of chips that will become “the benchmark for power in the PC world.”
These chips will be designed, like those of its rival, on the ARM architecture instead of using the X86-64 that now dominate most of the market, and which is the one used by Intel or AMD chips.
Qualcomm already had processors destined for the PC market in its catalogue. For years it has created special versions of its most powerful mobile chips designed to work in very light laptops. Companies like HP or Samsung have computers equipped with them. Microsoft added support for these ARM architecture processors first in Windows 10 and now in Windows 11, so in principle, there is also software for them.
But the number of PCs with Qualcomm processors sold in the last 3 years is not very large and there are hardly any programs and applications specifically designed for them (most of them run under emulation, which takes away power).
They are also not competitive when it comes to running complex applications, such as those required for video editing, 3D modelling, games, and more. They are designed, above all, to give computers great autonomy and offer integrated 5G connection, so these devices are more an alternative to Google Chromebooks than a solution designed to compete with the most modern PCs equipped with more advanced processors of Intel or AMD.
Apple, on the other hand, has designed the M1 and now the M1 Pro and M1 Max precisely as direct competition to the most advanced processors and graphics cards on the market. And he has succeeded. Macs equipped with these processors are as powerful as or more powerful than computers with the latest generation of Intel Core or AMD Ryzen processors. In addition, thanks to the new architecture, they are also quieter and have greater autonomy.
Qualcomm’s goal, now, is to develop a line of processors capable of competing in that same space, taking advantage of the fact that Intel and AMD are burdened by the X86 architecture. James Thompson, the company’s head of technology, assured yesterday, at an event aimed at investors and analysts, that the company will have the first processors ready by 2023. “The transition from PC to ARM is inevitable and Qualcomm arm is the best-positioned company to take advantage of that transition, “said Thompson.
These chips will be developed by the Nuvia team, a company specializing in chip design and founded by former Apple workers that Qualcomm bought in January for $ 1.4 billion.
The chips will not only focus on improving the overall processing power, Qualcomm will also adapt the design of its Adreno graphics processors so that future computers can also excel in tasks such as electronic entertainment or video editing.
For Qualcomm this bet is necessary. It is still the company that supplies processors to most mobile phone manufacturers but until now part of its business depended, also, on the sale of modems (the devices that allow smartphones to connect to telephone networks) for customers. iPhone.
The company now expects Apple to manufacture 80% of these modems internally in less than 4 years, so Qualcomm must find new markets to supply that revenue.