Asus, HP, and Lenovo will soon begin offering Windows 10 PCs powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile processors, the first products sold in more than a decade to run full Windows on non-Intel-compatible CPUs.
The ARM-based Snapdragon 835 mobile platform recently gained Windows compatibility, which opens up possibilities for manufacturers to build powerful PCs that have the battery life of a smartphone or tablet. That's exactly what Asus, HP, and Lenovo plan to do, and while form factors, pricing, and availability weren't immediately available, Qualcomm hinted that they'll be "sleek, thin, and fanless," with gigabit-class LTE cellular connectivity as well as batteries that last all day.
In theory, Qualcomm wants its Snapdragon mobile platform to jump-start a new generation of PC form factor designs, perhaps something different than the laptops, convertibles, and tablets with detachable keyboards that make up much of the current Windows ecosystem. The manufacturers appear to be on board.
"Today's PC users want solutions that provide better battery life and the ability to connect anytime, anywhere, while also being lighter and more portable than any other laptop currently available," Lenovo PCs and Smart Devices General Manager Jeff Meredith said in a statement. In practice, we could see Snapdragon processors trickle through existing product lineups before they prompt something revolutionary.
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The Snapdragon 835 mobile PC platform closely resembles the version of the processor that powers high-end smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8. In addition to the main CPU, there's also a dedicated GPU and a digital signal processor that can handle some artificial intelligence tasks independently.
In order to run Windows apps natively on PCs with ARM chip architecture, software developers will have to re-write them, as they did when Apple switched from PowerPCs to Intel architecture. Like Apple, Qualcomm will offer emulation as a stop-gap measure, so that current Windows apps like Microsoft Office can run on the new hardware.
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