Qualcomm gets new competition in Arm-based Windows PCs • The Register


Comment As Qualcomm fights to keep its licensing deals to develop next-generation Arm chips for Windows PCs, the US chip giant is getting yet another reminder that it will eventually face competition from a big rival from ballast.

MediaTek offered how it plans to break Qualcomm’s grip on Arm-based Windows PCs, providing some additional details after first unveiling its intentions last fall. This, of course, has nothing to do with this week’s Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit, in which Qualcomm talks about its next-gen processors. MediaTek is definitely not spoiling Qualcomm’s party.

The Taiwanese chip designer said on Monday it would tackle the Windows on Arm ecosystem of laptops and tablets with a variant of its Kompanio mobile processor, which is currently used in Chromebooks. The chip designer also plans to integrate its technology for 5G radios, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and display engines into systems on chips for Windows PCs.

In a statement, Vince Hu, head of the compute business unit at MediaTek, appeared to suggest that the company plans to increase research and development spending to develop CPU and GPU capabilities worthy of high-performance applications.

This would contrast with the evolution of Qualcomm’s Windows on Arm strategy. The American chip designer plans, to some extent, to phase out processors using off-the-shelf core designs from Arm in favor of custom cores obtained from its acquisition of Nuvia in 2021.

However, Arm is threatening Qualcomm’s custom base plans with a lawsuit, which seeks to destroy Qualy’s Nuvia technology for allegedly violating its licenses.

While the prospect of MediaTek breaking Qualcomm’s Windows on Arm monopoly is welcome to some, it probably won’t happen any time soon. Company executives said they see the PC market as a “long-term” opportunity and did not provide details on a timeline.

The unknown timeline for MediaTek’s entry into Windows PCs, combined with the Arm-Qualcomm lawsuit, isn’t exactly ideal for Arm’s ambitions in the Windows PC market. The category is currently niche, thanks to Qualcomm’s current Snapdragon PC chips, which were considered lackluster even with a decent performance boost in the most recent generation.

It is true that Qualcomm hopes to solve this problem by using custom Nuvia cores for next-gen Snapdragon processors. But if those efforts are stalled by its lawsuit with Arm, it could mean we’ll have to wait longer for buzz-worthy Arm-compatible chips.

And that, in turn, would continue to support x86 processors made by Intel and AMD, as well as Apple’s Arm-based M-series chips for Macs. ®


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