Microsoft's next Surface Pro might have a Snapdragon 8cx variant

Microsoft is working on several new Surface products for the fall and into 2020, including a new Surface Laptop, Surface Book, and Surface Pro device, that will likely be announced in October. It's possible that we'll also see a new form factor in the form of a dual-screen 2-in-1, codenamed Centaurus, but that device is not expected to start shipping until sometime in 2020.

The other devices are expected to start shipping in the fall, but not much will be changing on the surface (pun intended.) According to a report from Petri, of which we can confirm, Microsoft's major hardware lineup this year is going to entail of mostly under the hood changes. The devices will, for the most part, feature the same designs, this time with USB-C instead of the Surface Connect port.

Microsoft has been testing AMD Picasso SoC versions of the next Surface Laptop, as Microsoft's relationship with Intel is reportedly on shaky grounds. It's unclear why said relationship is on thin ice, but it's likely related to Intel's recent chip shortage and lack of innovation in chip design.

More interestingly, Microsoft is testing an ARM version of the next Surface Pro as well. I've been hearing for a while now that Microsoft is working on a device codenamed Excalibur, and Petri confirms this, adding that Excalibur is the 8cx SoC that Microsoft has been working closely with Qualcomm on, and is featured in some Surface Pro 7 prototypes.

The next Surface Pro will also be an Intel device, of course, but Microsoft may opt to also sell an ARM version as well. The 8cx is said to rival that of an Intel Core i5 processor, which would fit right in with the entry level Surface Pro. It makes sense for Microsoft to ship an ARM device in the fall, as it is yet to ship a Surface PC with Windows 10 powered by ARM, even though Microsoft itself is pushing other OEMs to do so.

Finally, Petri goes on to mention that Microsoft may be planning to unveil Microsoft Teams for life at the same event, and could possibly formally announce Windows Lite. If Microsoft announces Windows Lite in October, it needs to also announce a Centaurus device alongside it to showcase to the world what Windows Lite is capable of.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming Surface lineup? Let us know in the comments.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Looking forward for that event like never before
  • If Microsoft can produce a Surface Go with 20hour battery, thinner bezels and slimmer frame and a Surface Pro with Thunder bolt/USBC then they will rule the world!
  • Agreed. I was hoping the Surface Go ran on ARM, but was disappointed to see they went with Intel Pentium instead. If you're gonna have an Intel chip and USB-C, it should have been a model that supported Thunderbolt 3. Maybe they'll fix it this fall.
  • If they come up with a laptop with 20-25 hour battery life *and* LTE (with not too high cost of use) + some TeamView-like program, an ARM processor or a "slow" intel processor might be ok... such a system could be used as a terminal window into a powerful workstation where the actual programs are run -- the laptop is then only used to type in commands/text and show results. For such use, it is not required that the laptop can run 64bit x86 code.
  • The battery life is definitely the biggest issue with the surface go. Its a good all-rounder otherwise. It's fast enough for basic work tasks, however it hits up against it's own size limitation by making the keyboard a touch small for anything longer than short emails or minor excel/ word work. If the next revision gets the battery right and is resized so that the keyboard feels less cramped without losing it's portability that'd be something interesting for me.
  • Difficult to rule the world without a strong presence in mobile. Having to rely on the opposition platforms will always hold MS back until/if they get back into mobile.
  • I wonder if the Surface Pro with ARM will run a version of Windows Lite. It may help consumers differentiate between Intel and ARM; mitigating most of the headache people had distinguishing Surface with Windows 8 and Surface with Windows RT.
  • I think that might actually make the confusion worse. You'd have two physically identical devices running different operating systems and processors.
  • I'd like to see Surface Go & Centaurus... go completely WoA with 8cx. Surface Pro have an option for either Intel or 8cx. Surface Laptop, Studio, Hub - Intel only. I think anyone looking at a "pro" level device should be able to differentiate whether they need longer battery life or full compatibility.
  • They can definitely make a 799$ version with 256gb SSD and 8gb and that would be awesome. It can't be just a CPU swap though, it needs to be made from the ground up to take advantage of the 8cx Now just waiting for a Surface Go refresh with a 7cx and we are golden.
  • Am I the only one that thinks that 8cx is a dumb name for this processor?
  • ...unless 8cx is pronounced eighty six and indicates some x86 compatibility??
  • I think "8" is just the series (there's going to be a "7" too) "c" is for "compute" and "x" was "eXtreme" as this isn't just a Snapdragon 850 (modded 845).
  • you could be way off here, but I like it!
  • I wonder if there will be a future Surface Go or will the new dual screen 9 inch Surface occupy its slot in the Surface lineup?
  • I bet the two screen mechanism is expensive (there was a time when they wouldn't use the more sophisticated Surface Pro kickstand on the Surface 3, supposedly for cost reasons). So, in order to offer an Education-price-friendly option, I think the Go will stick around. (I'm not a fan of a foldable but not pocketable device anyways, so I hope they keep the Go around.)
  • Can I put it in my pocket? No. Pass.
  • I agree. Microsoft has not put Andromeda on the backburner. It is still actively being developed. Microsoft knows it all hinges (see what I did there?) on Andromeda. Centaurs with a Snapdragon – fine, Surface Pro with a Snapdragon – fine, Surface Go with a Snapdragon – fine. They are all placeholders waiting on Andromeda, Microsoft’s pocketable Surface device. Andromeda leverages all of Microsoft’s other products and services - Azure, Modern OS, Office365, ability to run Android apps, Surface Headphones, HoloLens, Surface Hub, etc.
  • I'm not sure they're placeholders. Yes, we want a pocketable device. But no, I'd like a nice, clean, reasonably large display, too. If I'm walking around our building from meeting to meeting, foldable isn't that valuable to me - the current Surface Pro is perfect for that.
  • Interesting, a good idea to have 8cx in at least one iteration of the surface to demonstrate it's viability and support the platform. As far as thunderbolt3. With USB 3.2 pending, I wouldn't hold it against MS for leaving out thunderbolt, it's still fairly proprietary, and they would have be stuck with intel form a licensing standpoint, and if they want to test AMD or ARM, than thunderbolt wouldn't be an option. A universal standard like USB 3.2 would be better, offer the same benefit, and not need licensing from Intel
  • It's USB 4 that merges Thunderbolt 3 and USB. Also, I wouldn't buy anything without Thunderbolt 3 as it wouldn't be compatible with any current docking stations. Also, Thunderbolt 3 was recently open sourced, so there is no licensing fee.
  • Do current docking stations really /require/ TB3? They're not backwards compatible with older USB-C/3?
  • No they don't, you can get USB-C Docks that aren't Thunderbolt capable.
  • I think it would need to offer incredible battery life or price advantages to offer enough "different" to make sense. Maybe that's exactly what it does.
  • We might see AMD chips too I guess.. :)
  • Where am I going to put the sticky note with my password, then? J/k
  • If Intel chips keep improving on battery life, I'm going to pass on the ARM version. I don't want to have to see how a bunch of Win32 software runs on ARM with emulation. I'd like a 12 h+ real-life battery life ideally, but not if there's too much of a sacrifice in power, in which case I'll live with 8-9 hours I get on my current Surface Pro for light work. For users who don't run many or any Win32 apps, WoA is going to be amazing. And who needs Thunderbolt, really?
  • Andrew, I can tell you the 850 SoC ARM chip is extremely er... "snappy".
    Easily on par with an i3/i5. I am using the Yoga C630 with the 850 in, and for non gaming use - its unbelievebale.
    I've yet to switch it out of S Mode. I'm missing a few things, but I wouldnt be so hasty to discount it.
    And the battery life is insane. The 8cx will be even better, if its even close to 40% faster, and gives even more battery life it will be a game changer.
    Intel could be in for some tough times. I'm not kidding, trying a get a demo of a Yoga C630 - you will very surprised at how good it is trust me.
  • Thanks for that. But does Stata run fast? I am worried about Win32 program performance. If you haven't come out of S-Mode I suspect you haven't run any Win32 apps.
  • @hwangeruk. Sounds like the battery life on Windows Lite on ARM would be pretty damn good. I just hope it supports NFC out of the gate with tap to pay support for payment and merchant payments for "contact less payments". The irony of the "oontact less payments" is that you have to use ensure your card touches the device to ensure payment goes through lol.
  • I've moved on from the Surface, got an Elite X2 arriving today which is everything I need in a portable device.
  • maybe get an HP Elite x3 and complete the package!
  • I'm actually considering the Oppo Reno 5G as my next phone, but my plan ends in October so I'm considering what other 5G options might be available then.
  • Doesn't that run Windows Mobile? Haven't MS announced they end support in early December? Why would you suggest buying a WM device now?
  • Because he's delusional 😂
  • This would be awesome.
  • Now if they update the surface go to the arm chips and make the device smaller(if only by slimming the bezels that would be fine) I'd be getting one the day it releases :).
  • What I really want to see is a new pen that includes the Microsoft Wheel functionality with a ring or touch panel or something, with the ability to program on a per-application basis what such a selector would accomplish (change brush size when using a brush or type of lasso tool, etc. in Photoshop, toggle pens and erasers from a selected number in OneNote [color/size], zoom in Edge, etc.). It could do different things depending on whether you're close to the screen or a little further away.
    Pair that with further improved handwriting experience (further work on digitizer screen), etc. I don't know what they'd need to do to get the experience closer to the resistive screen technology in the Motion Computing LE1600 of old, but it's still not there - and would be super important for handwriting recognition in OneNote, among other things.
  • Curious to see how pricing is for a Ryzen 5 Surface vs an I5 setup. New Ryzen chips are said to outperform the I5 big-time and cost less. Also the Ryzen APU's have Vega or possibly Navi graphics cores built in which absolutely destroys Intel's integrated graphics. A Ryzen/Navi APU on a surface device would be huge!
  • That would actually have made me get another Surface Pro, I went elsewhere for eGPU support, if it had a beefier SoC inside I wouldn't need that.
  • Wow... I got excited from just reading the "7" in Surface Pro ... Now I finally know how Apple fans feel 😅
  • Any hope of Microsoft adding x64 emulation to Windows on Arm? I feel like it would add a lot more versatility, even if performance wouldn't be all that impressive.
  • In the event that Microsoft can create a Surface Go with 20hour battery, more slender bezels and slimmer casing and a Surface Pro with Thunder jolt/USBC then they will control the world!
    <a href=" How to Fix the Error App Block "This app has been blocked for your protection windows 10"</a>
  • I think Intel was trying to strong ARM Microsoft into using intel CPUs only. Personally, Intel needs alot more kicking to their backside because they have price gouged consumers for ages and sat on their laurels for far too long because they had zero competition. Now they have competition and they don't know what to do with themselves lol. An ARM based Surface Pro device would be a major win for consumers too as that means we will have solid option for a Laptop class solution with Cellular / Mobile data connectivity without having to extortinate amount of money for that functionality. I have mixed feelings about solely using USB-type C and no Surface connect port - can't they have both?
    Then fade out the Surface connect port over time if it becomes an issue with bandwith limitiation with the Surface Connect Port. Perhaps they have weighed up their options and decided to rip the band aid off sooner than later.. hmm.. If they have then they will need to pick a spot that will not change in the future as that would alleviate concerns of docking solutions made obsolete a few generations down the line. Unless of course the type-c port get's smaller which is bound to happen over time as we have mini/micro type a / b connections.
  • Maybe slightly off topic but...I'm curious if anyone knows how much Windows on ARM has improved in the last year. Why I'm asking is now that we are on the cusp of 2nd gen chips, first Gen hardware is getting very interesting price wise. Does a Miix 630 or HP envy work better today than a year ago? Thanks