One of Intel’s staunchest allies may be partially leaving it behind, striking it a blow just when it’s on the verge of making its biggest jump in processor architecture and design. Although Microsoft isn’t completely jumping ship away for its next generation of Surface products, it is reportedly working towards adopting a more diverse strategy when it comes to processors. That includes a Surface Laptop with a 12 nm AMD Picasso chip and, perhaps more interesting, a Surface Pro running on a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
Those who have seen and experienced Microsoft’s initial “Windows 10 on Snapdragon” attempt might raise an eyebrow. The first “always on, always connected” 2-in-1 tablets, while great on paper and hardware, ended up being a disappointment in real-world use. That said, the alternative of waiting forever for Intel to come up with comparable SoC’s for tablets is hardly better.
Company insiders say that the relationship between Microsoft and Intel aren’t so rosy at the moment, especially after the Surface makes was reportedly burned by the performance of Skylake processors. This has prompted Microsoft to diversify its sources, pretty much like what Apple has tried to do with its iPhones. Microsoft, however, is doing more than just look at AMD.
It’s once again taking the risk by adopting ARM processors for some of its Surface Pros. But instead of an off the shelf processor like it used before, the report claims that Microsoft is working closely with Qualcomm to create a custom SoC codenamed Excalibur. This will be based on its own specifications to work better with Windows 10’s needs.
Microsoft, of course, will continue to create products powered by Intel chips, particularly for its beefier and larger Surface devices. This Snapdragon “8cx” processor, however, could serve as a reference for other OEMs that will be making their own ARM-based Windows 10 hardware, presuming that kicks off in the first place.