Video: New ARM processors for mobile devices tailored to AI and VR
We've become used to rapid speeds on our smartphones and tablets, always-on connectivity, cool usage without fans or overheating, and generally acceptable battery life. However, this experience is not necessarily reflected in our laptops and hybrid devices.
These days, if a laptop claims to have 15 hours of battery life, we often cut that by half in our heads. Power-slurping applications can cause burning laps, we are often required to wait during startup and closing down processes, and without a constant network connection, we may be forced to rely on insecure mobile networks when on the road.
Despite shrinking form factors, our laptops can also still be considered bulky and cumbersome -- and all these factors have brought Microsoft and Qualcomm together to explore a new kind of mobile device.
According to Qualcomm, consumers are still lacking a "truly mobile experience," but the introduction of Windows 10 to the Snapdragon 835 mobile PC platform, announced on Tuesday, aims to change this.
"Why should a PC be one of the only devices that isn't connected?," Miguel Nunes, Senior Director of Product Management at Qualcomm told ZDNet. "Your fridge is connected, your car is connected, your water meter is connected -- your PC should be connected, too."
The introduction of "always connected" laptops and mobile designs equipped with the Snapdragon 835 and Microsoft's operating system will include a constant connection to mobile networks at up to Gigabit speeds, improved battery life in comparison to today's 2-in-1 laptop models, and thin, fanless form factors.
According to Nunes, the company "took what it could from a mobile phone and put it in a bigger shell," which has given vendors up to 30 percent more room to play with than a typical x86 platform, together with the "freedom and flexibility" of a smaller footprint.
Qualcomm says that new devices based on the mobile platform will go to sleep in the same manner as a cell phone rather than be entering a true state of hibernation, so users will not have to wait at all for screens to light on.
In addition, Internet connectivity will not be interrupted in the way that laptops cut off access, which means that users will not have to waste time attempting to find Wi-Fi hotspots or tethering from another mobile device.
"It's a feature people like about their mobile phone because it's quick, and your PC can do that, too," Nunes added.
The company also claims that due to the inclusion of the Qualcomm X16 LTE modem, users can expect a speed boost of three to seven times that of competitor products. In addition, power consumption is low and so laptops may last for over a day, with no specialist cooling required.
Windows 10 will run native on the Snapdragon system, and it is also possible to emulate legacy x86 applications.
For a deep dive into the operating system, see: Microsoft debuts Windows 10 on ARM
The Windows Phone never really made much of an impact. Microsoft's corporate VP for Windows Joe Belfiore recently suggested there would be a shift in focus with the building of new features no longer being a priority for the Redmond giant.
A lack of apps and developer interest signalled its eventual decline, but now with the Windows 10 platform coming to mobile devices, albeit in a larger form factor, Microsoft may yet earn itself a stronger place in the mobile market -- building not on the Windows Phone, but vendors looking to adopt Windows 10 in mobile through Qualcomm chips.
Nunes also expects that this new kind of design will prompt innovation as vendors which already have existing mobile phone form factors will be able to take the blueprints and run with them as laptops.
The first designs from Asus to be available as early as this December, while other vendors will follow suit and offer their own product ranges from 2018.
An upcoming model from Asus is the NovaGo, a 13-inch laptop equipped with Windows 10 S, a Snapdragon 835 processor, up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage.
Another laptop on the horizon is HP's Envy x2, a 12.3-inch device which comes with the same processor, Windows 10 S -- and the option to switch to Windows 10 Pro -- up to 8GB RAM and 256GB storage.
Given Qualcomm's position in the mobile, IoT, and silicon industries, Broadcom has been keen to acquire the company.
Last month, in related news, the semiconductor giant offered to acquire Qualcomm in a deal worth $130 billion, including debt, representing $70 per share in cash and Broadcom stock. However, Qualcomm said the proposal "significantly undervalued" the company, but Broadcom has not gracefully accepted the rejection.
This week, Broadcom announced plans to nominate a slate of 11 individuals to replace Qualcomm's existing board at the company's 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, due in March 2018. to put pressure on the US chip firm to talk.
In return, Qualcomm said the plan "is a blatant attempt to seize control of the Qualcomm board in order to advance Broadcom's acquisition agenda."