Details Emerge Of Qualcomm’s ARM-Based Desktop Chip

Qualcomm is likely to target the Intel-dominated desktop PC market with an upcoming series of ARM-based chips, according to a report citing materials provided to system developers.

Qualcomm’s ARM chips are already standard in high-end smartphones, but the upcoming chip, codenamed Snapdragon 1000, is reportedly being built from the ground up as a laptop and desktop processor.

The chipmaker is aiming to make use of the low power consumption of ARM’s designs, in this case its new Cortex-A76 architecture, for chips that beat Intel’s Y- and U-series Core processors on power usage, while still delivering high performance.

That could be particularly attractive for laptops, but Qualcomm also appears to be testing a socketed design that would be aimed at desktops, WinFuture reported, citing materials provided to hardware developers by Qualcomm.

Desktop competition

A Qualcomm job posting mentions Windows 10 and desktop systems explicitly, adding weight to the plans, WinFuture said.

It said test designs for the Snapdragon 1000 have a thermal envelope of up to 6.5 Watts for the CPU cores and up to 12W for the entire system-on-a-chip (SoC), undercutting comparable Intel processors.

At about 20mm x 15mm, Qualcomm’s test processors are also smaller than a comparable Intel Core processor with a 15W envelope, which it said would measure about 45mm by 24mm.

The new chip is significantly larger than Qualcomm’s smartphone chips, with the upcoming Snapdragon 855 measuring 12.4mm by 12.4mm.

Current Snapdragon 1000 test chips include up to 16GB of RAM, with two 128GB flash storage modules, 802.11ad gigabit Wi-Fi and gigabit LTE.

Power and performance

It uses a newly developed power management chip to handle the SoC’s increased power usage.

WinFuture said that while Taiwanese PC maker Asus is working on a Snapdragon 1000-based system, there’s as yet no time frame for the chip’s arrival on the market.

Intel is reportedly developing new Y- and U-series Core chips with power and performance characteristics designed to compete with the Snapdragon 1000.

ARM designs are already being used for low-power server chips, an increasingly attractive option given the vast size and power consumption of modern data centres.

Intel has failed to make a dent in ARM’s dominance of low-power smartphone chips, and ARM – which creates designs that are implemented by a range of manufacturing partners, including Qualcomm – has said Intel would have difficulty beating it without changing the way it does business.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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