Windows on ARM will no longer be exclusive to Snapdragon

ARM CEO Rene Haas said in an interview with Stratechery that the exclusive Windows agreement between Qualcomm and Microsoft will expire this year. The expiration of the agreement may herald the beginning of a new phase. According to XDA Developers, two years ago, Microsoft and Qualcomm signed an exclusive agreement. The agreement states that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) releasing Windows on ARM platform laptops must use chipsets produced by Qualcomm. HP, Lenovo, Dell and other brands have previously launched Windows on ARM products. However, following the agreement, all these devices used only Qualcomm chips.

Snapdragon X Elite chipset

Haas said that the agreement between the two companies will expire later this year. This will create new opportunities for other chipset manufacturers to enter the market and provide more choices for consumers. Nvidia and AMD have begun producing ARM chips for Windows systems and will make announcements when the exclusivity agreement expires. Analysts said late last year that Nvidia, AMD and MediaTek were all likely to release ARM-based chipsets. MediaTek mainly targets smartphones, but the fabless semiconductor company hopes to compete with Qualcomm in different market segments.

Windows on ARM (WoA) has been closely associated with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. However, recent developments indicate a potential shift in this exclusivity.

The Qualcomm Factor

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors have been the primary choice for WoA devices. However, concerns have been raised about the performance and compatibility of these chips. The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G processor, for instance, has been criticized for its performance compared to rival Intel chips. Despite efforts to improve performance, the adoption of Snapdragon chips for WoA devices has been limited.¬†Irrespective of performance, a deal was in place and needed to be obeyed. Now that the exclusive deal is coming to an end, we can now have Windows on ARM devices with any chip the brand considers better.

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Diversification of ARM Chips

Recent announcements suggest a potential diversification of ARM chips for WoA devices. Qualcomm’s rebranding of its Windows on ARM chips to the Snapdragon X Series indicates a strategic shift. This rebranding is in preparation for the launch of new Oryon-based chips, marking a departure from the exclusive use of Snapdragon chips for WoA devices.

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Snapdragon 8 Gen3

Also, Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia, a company known for its high-performance processor designs, was expected to address the performance limitations of Snapdragon chips for WoA devices. However, delays in the development of Nuvia’s processors have impacted the timeline for their integration into WoA devices.

Microsoft on its part has been putting efforts to support WoA devices. This is evident in its collaboration with Qualcomm and other partners. The release of the Windows Dev Kit 2023 (Project Volterra) powered by a Qualcomm processor is a testament to this ongoing collaboration.

The Future of WoA

While WoA has been synonymous with Snapdragon processors, the recent developments indicate a potential shift. This shift will move towards a more diverse range of ARM chips for WoA devices. This diversification could lead to improved performance and a broader range of options for WoA devices. Users and the overall ecosystem will ultimately benefit from this diversification

Final Words

The exclusivity of Snapdragon processors for WoA devices is coming to an end this year. Looking at the statements of ARM’s CEO, there will likely not be an extension of the agreement. This is signalling a potential shift towards a more diverse range of ARM chips for WoA devices. This shift could have significant implications for the performance and competitiveness of WoA devices in the future.

Author Bio

Efe Udin is a seasoned tech writer with over seven years of experience. He covers a wide range of topics in the tech industry from industry politics to mobile phone performance. From mobile phones to tablets, Efe has also kept a keen eye on the latest advancements and trends. He provides insightful analysis and reviews to inform and educate readers. Efe is very passionate about tech and covers interesting stories as well as offers solutions where possible.

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