MediaTek will end Qualcomm's exclusive reign over Arm-based Windows PCs in 2025

HP EliteBOok Ultra G1Q with Qualcomm Snapdragon X CPU
Windows on Arm PCs will have options other than Qualcomm chips starting in 2025, according to a recent report. (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

What you need to know

  • MediaTek will make an Arm-based chip for Windows PCs, according to a recent report.
  • Qualcomm has reportedly had an exclusive agreement with Microsoft regarding making Arm chips for PCs, but that agreement is said to conclude at the end of this year.
  • MediaTek will reportedly release its Arm-based chip for PCs late in 2024.
  • That chip is said to be based on Arm's ready-made designs.

Qualcomm is the only company that makes chips for Arm-based Windows PCs at the moment, but that's about to change. According to Reuters, Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek will make chips for Windows computers as soon as next year. The outlet cited several sources who confirmed the news that could cause a shakeup in Arm-based computing.

A previous report by Reuters revealed that Microsoft has had an exclusive agreement with Qualcomm since 2016. That agreement made Qualcomm the only company allowed to build Arm chips for Windows computers. That agreement reportedly ends at the conclusion of 2024, opening the doors for other companies to make Arm chips for Windows PCs.

READ: Windows on ARM FAQ

When discussing processors, words such as "make" can be tricky. For example, both Intel and AMD design x86-x64 processors but only Intel makes its own chips in a fab. AMD uses companies like TSMC or Intel Foundry Services to physically make processors. 

On the Arm side of things, companies such as Qualcomm purchases licenses from Arm Ltd. and then make adjustments as needed. The chips are then manufactured by a company like TSMC. The recent report by Reuters states that MediaTek will use this general approach to create Arm chips, meaning the upcoming MediaTek chips will be based on Arm's ready-made designs.

A shot in the Arm

Snapdragon X Elite logo

Qualcomm is the only company that makes Arm chips for PCs at the moment, but that could change in 2025. (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Arm-based computing is in the middle of a renaissance. Qualcomm's new Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus chips promise true all-day battery life, better efficiency than their predecessors, and power that rivals chips from Apple and Intel. Those processors power the first wave of Copilot+ PCs, which launch next week.

Microsoft has done its part to push Arm computing as well, including optimizing Windows 11 for Arm chips and having its upcoming Surface Pro 11 and Surface Laptop 7 run on Snapdragon X chips.

Some have called 2024 the year of Windows on Arm. Our Editor-in-Chief Daniel Rubino calls the convergence of Arm computing, NPUs, and generative AI the "Great PC Reset." While the joint efforts of Qualcomm, Microsoft, and PC manufacturers have reignited interest in Arm computing, that list only includes one chipmaker at the moment. Arm chips made by MediaTek and other companies will drive the platform further.

AMD and NVIDIA reportedly have Arm chips in the works as well, so 2025 could be a very interesting year for Arm-based computing.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.