If Microsoft hasn’t released a Surface device with an ARM processor since the 2013 Surface 2, the company is apparently planning to give this idea another shot. According to Windows Central’s Zac Bowden, “Excalibur” is the internal codename for a new Surface device powered by Qualcomm’s new 8cx chip, an ARM processor designed from the ground up for Always Connected PCs.
"Excalibur" is your latest Surface codename to keep an eye out for. It's an 8cx device of some kind :)
— Zac Bowden (@zacbowden) June 24, 2019
This isn’t the first time we’re hearing about a new Surface device powered by a Snapdradgon processor. Back in April, Brad Sams wrote on Thurrott.com that Microsoft had built Surface Pro prototypes with Qualcomm ARM processors. Here’s what Sams wrote at the time:
The latest chips from Qualcomm, the 8cx, haven’t caught on in a big way but as both Microsoft and Qualcomm continue to push forward, there is no doubt that they are making serious progress in terms of performance at the chip and OS level.
So much so that Microsoft has prototype Surface Pro devices floating around that use Qualcomm chips instead of Intel’s hardware. The company has considered replacing the low-end Pro devices with Snapdragon chips but so far, has yet to ship any products that do so for various reasons.
An ARM processor may make more sense on a successor to the 10-inch Surface Go, which is roughly the same size as the ARM-powered Surface 2 from the Windows RT era. However, the first Windows 10 on ARM devices released last year were ultrabooks, so it wouldn't be completely surprising to see new Surface Pro or Surface Laptop models with Qualcomm ARM processors at some point.
Interestingly, Microsoft's rumored Surface foldable device will reportedly use an Intel 10nm Lakefield chip instead of a more power efficient ARM processor. We'll see what happens, but it seems that we could see a lot of new Surface devices later this year. "I have heard October for Surface could be one of the busiest since 2015," tweeted Windows Central executive editor Daniel Rubino yesterday.
Update 12:03 PM PT: The "Excalibur" codename has now been confirmed by Brad Sams, who believes that it's actually the codename for a custom SoC for a new ARM Surface Pro. "Unlike previous attempts with ARM, I am told that Microsoft worked extremely closely with Qualcomm to build this chipset, based on their own specifications, to design a chip that would work better with Windows 10. This new SoC may be used as a reference device for other OEMs who are looking to use the 8cx (or similar) in upcoming products," Sams wrote.Further reading: Qualcomm, Snapdragon 8cx, Surface, Surface Go, Surface Pro