What you need to know
- Qualcomm and Lenovo had a roundtable discussion about the future of the PC.
- Topics relating to work-from-home, the NUVIA acquisition, the role of 5G, and why the PC is here to stay are discussed.
- The 30-minute chat is part of a new series with Qualcomm focusing on ARM technology in different markets.
The PC has never gone away — see strong demand for gaming rigs over the last decade – but in 2020, remote work, schooling, and new technologies have certainly accelerated the need for not only more computers but lighter and more mobile ones.
Qualcomm has a unique role in the PC industry, sitting between AMD and Intel while offering something unique: extremely thin, always-connected devices. In a new roundtable discussion hosted by Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies, Inc., the company sat down with Lenovo to talk about trends in the industry, why connectivity and security are increasingly important, and how 2020 changed everything.
The new series is expected to hit on all topics related to Qualcomm. But, the first episode kicks off focusing on the future of Windows PCs, especially in the growing always-on, always-connected segment.
The chat involved Alex Katouzian, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mobile, Compute and Infrastructure for Qualcomm; Miguel Nunes Senior Director, Product Management for Qualcomm; and Tom Butler, Executive Director of Commercial Portfolio, Intelligent Devices Group for Lenovo (who we've interviewed before on its ground-breaking Titanium Yoga laptop).
The 30-minute discussion hits such hot topics of how 5G will transform work (and problems it will solve, especially with hybrid work scenarios). AI, which mainly was a buzzword a few years ago, also gets brought up. Katouzian notes:
Katouzian, at around the 12-minute mark, also brings up Qualcomm's recent $1.4 billion acquisition of Nuvia, a purchase that is expected to help the company radically accelerate mobile chip performance. Of course, the effects of Nuvia's chip designs will not be realized in Snapdragon products for another "two to three years." He does confirm, however, that Nuvia's tech will be in consumer products and not server tech, as some have suggested.
Another choice discussion is how smartphone technologies are working their way into PCs. Nunes goes on to mention how "It's audio, camera, AI, connectivity. It's all the things we have that we love about our phone." Such a topic has been an issue for laptop webcams, which are still even in 2021, often much worse than they should be – an issue that companies will hopefully address later this year.
Lenovo's Tom Butler addresses a lingering question about how demand for PCs is expected to continue instead of just being a blip in 2020:
Finally, around the 28-minute mark, Katouzian leans heavily into the idea not just of a connected PC but a PC that smartly interacts with our smart devices, including phones, headsets, glasses, TV, and even our car. and "all of them have to interact." It is an issue Apple can solve due to its tight horizontal and vertical integration, but one that is a struggle for everyone else. But it does raise the question: if you have a Snapdragon processor in your phone, your PC, and your smartwatch – why don't they do more at the chip level to interact? Hopefully, we will see some answers from Qualcomm and PC makers to this question in the coming years.
The latest Qualcomm-based mobile PC to launch is the HP Elite Folio, announced earlier at CES 2021. The pull-forward convertible PC is a game-changer in design, and we'll be reviewing it soon.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
First step is to put students laptops with snapdragon 7c and get rid of celeron and pentium..
I suspect 21H2 is a key step to making that happen. Microsoft was probably holding off until x64 emulation ships. Once it does, 99% of compatibility issues will be gone.
They should even backport it to 20H1 onwards tbh.
64-bit isn't coming until 20H2? :(
@bradovon x86 emulation for ARM chips already exists but x86-64 involves more work which is why it will take until Oct 2021 to get that out to the public. If you have a Windows on ARM device like Surface Pro X you can test it in the Insider Fast Ring right now
Agreed. We badly need midrange Windows on ARM PCs.
yeah laptops that sell for $100 - $300 would benefit the most especially since those low-cost laptops have an Intel Celeron/Pentium Silver or AMD A4 with 2GB RAM which is slow and laggy. Snapdragon 7x or 7cx would be a great improvement for them all around
Exactly. So much better at the 200-300 price point. I've not used Pentium Silver but even ChromeOS struggles on a Celeron sometimes.
Ok, I seen the video but they had comments turned off. So my question to both Qualcomm & Lenovo is what about participation by Microsoft? Didn't MS promised to have "Ready To Connect" PC's with 5G & ARM processors that also emulates x86 for Win32 apps? All that stuff which was promised years ago, including Cortana as an AI assistant, is now canceled and removed. It's great we now have thinner laptops with webcams but they're still just laptop PC's for work...
Except for Cortana, all of that currently exists. WoA computers with 5G and x86 emulation (soon 64 bit too, it's in insider builds).
Yeah most of that hasn't been cancelled.
But no mention from the threat of M1? Whilst I agree M1 isn't going to change Mac vs Windows sales, Windows on ARM x86 app performance is a problem. I love my Surface Pro X but if I made heavy use of x86 apps, especially heavy duty ones I'd be resistant to recommending it. As I only use Spotify (slow), Evernote (fine), Skype (fine) I can live with it. I mostly use Edge and Microsoft 365.
Sorry, my money's on Samsung Exynos and Mediatek's ARM SoCs + ChromeOS.
Qualcomm Snapdragon + Windows on ARM? Needs more effort from both sides.
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