X86 based processors dominate the laptop & desktop markets, while ARM based chips rule the phone and tablet world. This has been the natural order of things for as long as we can remember, however Windows 8 could finally turn the tide for ARM. According to Rob Chandhok, senior vice president at Qualcomm, the company is preparing a quad-core version of its Snapdragon S4 ARM chip to run in future thin and light Windows 8 laptops.
When asked to clarify “thin and light”, Chandhok responded by claiming they would be a huge improvement over what Intel defines as an Ultrabook, and even the Macbook Air. The lines between high-end smartphones, where Qualcomm's chips are normally found, and laptops has started to blur, Chandhok said. The S4 chips will enable smaller laptops with high-resolution screens, longer battery life and always-on connectivity, he said.
The new S4 will be manufactured on a 28-nanometer process which should improve power efficiency and performance vs. earlier Snapdragon designs, though they will still lag Intel significantly when it comes to raw processing power and compatibility. If the Metro interface in Windows 8 takes off however, and apps written in the new metro friendly WinRT follow suit, ARM could well be closing in on a date where consumers don’t care what chip runs their laptop since all their apps are compatible with both platforms.
Would you ditch desktop app compatibility for a laptop that makes the Macbook air look chubby and doubles your battery life? Let us know in the comments below.