2024 promises to be the year of the real landing of the ARM platform in the PC segment. Qualcomm had predicted it, speaking of the consecration of ARM SoCs in the personal computer sector, supporting the thesis with the recent launch of Snapdragon Windows on ARM which has not yet been able to establish itself on the market.
On the horizon, with the arrival of competitor which NVidia e AMD which will ride the ARM architecture, a real revolution seems to be looming in the PC segment.
NVidia already holds 80% of the computer market GPU per PC and sells the vast majority of solutions for the HPC sector (High Performance Computing) and for applications related to artificial intelligence: some time ago, one step away from acquiring ARM, the company led by Jen-Hsun Huang, was about to present SoC ARM intended for PC Windows.
AMD, building on its continued successes in the processorsaims to diversify its offering and in the future, according to what well-informed sources report, it would also intend to release ARM SoCs for Windows-based computers.
Windows on ARM with the new NVidia and AMD processors
Microsoft would have decided to break the deadlock and press the accelerator on the ARM platform as a truly viable alternative to the traditional x86 architecture in the PC field. The goal is to rival Apple which has shelved i Intel processors to introduce new Macs built around chips designed and developed in-house, using some of ARM’s intellectual property.
The Redmond company therefore seems to follow the path suggested by former Apple manager Jean-Louis Gassée, who already in 2020 invited Microsoft to invest more in ARM SoCs.
In 2016, Microsoft chose Qualcomm to lead the initiative to transition the Windows operating system to the ARM architecture, traditionally used in smartphones and other mobile devices due to its energy efficiency. The Satya Nadella-led company has given Qualcomm exclusive rights to create Windows-compatible chips until 2024. Once the exclusivity agreement expires, however, some big new players are ready to enter this market. NVidia and AMD seem to be the first names. And according to reports, they should have their respective SoCs ready for Windows on ARM systems by 2025.
Stimulating challenges for NVidia and AMD
Entering the x86 CPU fiefdom represents a significant expansion of its business for NVidia. However, this is certainly not an improvisation given the experience gained by Huang’s company in the development and creation of SoC ARM per i data center. It is therefore absolutely reasonable to expect the company to “enter the field” in the workstation, notebook and desktop sectors.
It must be said, however, that NVidia and AMD will compete with established players such as Apple and Qualcomm, which produce chips based on ARM per laptop from 2016 and 2020 respectively.
Microsoft, for its part, seems oriented towards freeing itself from the historic “coupling” with Intel which led to the coining of the term Wintel to refer to the combination between the two giants of global IT. On the other hand, if market shares really began to grow in the PC sector, ARM itself would never allow Qualcomm to remain the only player in the field.
In short, the corporate plans, affairs and destinies of a growing number of companies seem increasingly intertwined in a game in which Microsoft is invested with the main responsibility. Windows on ARM has made great strides in supporting x86-64 code: basically, in fact, the code developed for x86 chips is not directly executable (natively) on ARM SoCs. The challenge is to improve the support for x86 applications on ARMkeeping in mind the differences between x86-64 and ARM64 architecture.