Qualcomm Unveils Intel's Worst Nightmare, Always Connected Snapdragon Windows 10 Convertibles Launched

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For the folks at Intel, all eyes are likely on Qualcomm today. While Intel has faced the toughest competition in recent years from AMD's Ryzen, Ryzen Threadripper, and EPYC family of processors, the company will soon be encountering a separate attack from Qualcomm. As we have reported multiple times, there is a new wave of Windows 10 PCs coming that will be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, ARM-based processors.

This improbable feat is made possible by Microsoft's support for full x86 emulation in Windows 10, which is why Snapdragon 835 (and future ARM-based SoCs from Qualcomm) will be able to run the operating system. And these PCs won't be limited to running Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps; they will also be capable of running legacy win32 applications, allowing for full compatibility with the massive back catalog of Windows software.

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Qualcomm indicates that it is addressing a growing need for ultra-slim / convertible Windows PCs that are capable of handling common daily workloads from surfing the web, to checking email, to keeping up with social media, to getting critical work done with productivity apps. In 2018, Qualcomm estimates that that 81 million devices in the ultra-slim / convertible category will ship globally; that number is projected to swell to around 126 million by 2022.

Customers are also requesting that their mobile PCs have far superior battery life than today's solutions, while incorporating built-in LTE connectivity when there are no Wi-Fi hotspots in range. Devices built with the "Windows 10 on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform" deliver on both fronts.
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While mobile PCs powered by Intel processors have made large gains in battery life over the past decade, the Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform will likely deliver the single biggest jump in battery performance that we have ever seen in this category of device. Windows 10 on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform will have battery life in the 20+ hour range on average, with some devices hitting 25+ hours. Given that we are used to seeing Intel-based ultraportables boasting 9 to 12 hours of battery life on average, this could be a game changer for consumers that frequently spend time away from a power outlet. And while we’re at it, we should also mention that there is far less real estate needed for the PCB with Snapdragon 835-powered devices compared to their Intel-based counterparts. This allows for manufacturers to make better use of space for even larger batteries to further increase run-times if they so choose.

Competing Commercial Circuit BoardQualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform Prototype Circuit Board

All devices from Qualcomm's partners -- which include Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and ASUS at this time -- will feature standard Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 4G LTE modems. The Snapdragon X16 provides download speeds of up to 1Gbps on compatible networks, and provides a 3x to 7x improvement in download speeds compared to the average U.S. wireless broadband connection.

In addition to superior battery life and standard 4G LTE, Qualcomm is also boasting about cooler-running devices with low thermals under sustained workload conditions.

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One of the first devices announced today from Qualcomm's partners is the ASUS NovaGo 2-in-1 convertible. The NovaGo is [of course] powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor, and features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920x1080) display with 10-point multi-touch support. It can be configured with up to 8GB of RAM and up to a 256GB SSD (UFS 2.0). On the connectivity front, there's the Snapdragon X16 4G LTE modem, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a microSD slot and a single HDMI port.

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This "always-on and always-connected” convertible promises 20+ hours of battery life, and have a base price of $599. The top-end SKU with 256GB of storage will be priced at $799.

HP has announced a device as well. The HP Envy x2 tablet is based on the Snapdragon 835 platform and offers up to 20 hours of battery life, in a 6.9mm thin and 1.54 pound chassis. Versions will be offered with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of solid state storage, with a base of $599.

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While all of this sounds like great news to us (and most definitely for consumers), Intel isn't happy at all about this turn of events. Earlier this year when celebrating the 40th anniversary of the world's first x86 microprocessor, Intel vowed to flex its legal muscle to stop the deployment of devices using x86 emulation in Windows 10.

"Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel’s x86 ISA will meet a different fate [than Transmeta]," said Intel at the time. "Intel welcomes lawful competition, and we are confident that Intel’s microprocessors, which have been specifically optimized to implement Intel’s x86 ISA for almost four decades, will deliver amazing experiences, consistency across applications, and a full breadth of consumer offerings, full manageability and IT integration for the enterprise. However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel’s intellectual property rights."

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Qualcomm fired back saying that it wasn’t rustled by Intel’s threats. “We look forward to the launch of the always connected Windows 10 PC powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform later this year,” said Qualcomm back in June. “As showcased at Computex 2017 in conjunction with Microsoft, the Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform brings a true always connected PC experience with support for up to Gigabit LTE connectivity and all-day battery life for sleek, thin and fanless designs. This will change the future of personal computing.”

We are on-site at the Qualcomm Snapdragon summit currently and will have hands-on time with Windows 10 on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform. Check back soon for more information and full reviews of product as they become available.