Microsoft and Qualcomm are already hand-in-hand when it comes to ARM-based Windows PCs, but Microsoft could be challenging its long-time partner in a quest to innovate the space a bit more. According to information that recently appeared on South Korean website Clien and shared by the leaker FrontTron, the Redmond giant and AMD may be working together on a powerful ARM laptop processor for future ARM-based PCs, including Surface devices.
While it is true that Microsoft already worked with AMD with the chips in the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Laptop 4, this new partnership could take that to a whole new level. FrontTron believes that AMD and Microsoft could end up releasing an ARM-based chip with a GPU that performs lower than an Nvidia GTX 1050, but still much better than Qualcomm's existing ARM chips. This chip would also use TSMC's 5nm manufacturing and use a 5G Exynos modem made by Samsung.
TSMC 5nm (Changed from Samsung recently, due to low yield)
Release date has been delayed due to process line change. Initial goal was to launch this year.
It's a processor for laptops based on Cortex X1.
Not a modem integrated chip. 5G Exynos modem equipped separately.
— Tron ❂ (@FrontTron) October 1, 2021
While there are still a lot of unknowns, the perspective of Microsoft and AMD making an ARM chip together is very exciting, especially when you take AMD's GPU expertise into account. Truth is, even though Windows 10 on ARM PCs have been around for many years now, this market is still waiting for its Apple Silicon moment. Apple really defied expectations with its first Macs using the company's in-house ARM-based M1 chips, which pretty much outclassed Qualcomm-powered PCs such as Microsoft's latest Surface Pro X.
Interestingly, even though the leaker says that Microsoft and AMD's new ARM chip should end up in a Surface product, he also mentioned that it might not be Surface exclusive. Considering that Qualcomm has yet to release a successor to its high-end Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 SoC, this could be why Microsoft and its hardware partners are not in a hurry to release new ARM-based laptops. Windows 11 on ARM has some exciting new optimizations for 64-bit app-emulation, but the platform now needs a big shot in the arm (pun intended) before consumers can finally take Windows on ARM PCs seriously.