As discussed in my previous blog, we have now reached the second wave of Windows 10 ‘Always On, Always Connected’ PCs with Snapdragon SoCs based on Arm Cortex technology. A new Arm-commissioned Whitepaper from Shrout Research shows how Windows 10 on Snapdragon devices scored impressive results across key performance measures that benefit the overall user experience, including battery life, connectivity, and ‘instant on’.
After a very successful string of announcements and articles around the new Windows 10 PCs, we brought together some industry thought-leaders at Arm TechCon. The technical panel session – ‘Revolutionizing the PC experience’ – included the following experts from Arm, Microsoft and Qualcomm:
The panel discussed more details around the range of Windows 10 on Snapdragon PCs, the partnership between Arm, Microsoft and Qualcomm, and what the future holds for the next generation of PCs from a software and hardware perspective.
Arm’s move into the PC market from premium smartphones seemed like ‘natural progression’ for the business, according to Stefan Rosinger, who kicked-off the discussion. Based on our success with smartphones, Arm understands that value will be delivered with PC partners. This was an opinion shared by Qualcomm’s Miguel Nunes, who commented that silicon IP performance in mobile surpassed PCs with this starting to be transposed into the PC market, furthering highlighting the evolution for Arm-based SoC in this space.
What would a conversation around Window 10 devices be without delving into the key performance features of the ‘Always On, Always Connected’ PCs? According to Nunes, longer battery life is a noticeable feature that users latch onto, but he was quick to point to the fact that consumers also want more connectivity on their PC devices, so they can do a lot more on-the-go. Nunes firmly believes that a connected device lasting for multiple days with “instant on” functionality will change the average person’s view on what PCs can do.
From a Microsoft perspective, Arun Kishan stated that Arm processors have enabled huge performance growth, pointing to the 20 percent performance improvement in a single generation, which is unprecedented in the legacy PC market. Rosinger agreed, stating that Arm is continuing to look to get as much performance out of the IP as possible while remaining highly efficient. He highlighted Arm’s recent CPU roadmap disclosure which shows a consistent performance trajectory among future generations of Arm products. When questioned whether Arm, Microsoft, and Qualcomm could keep up the performance and innovation pace, the resounding answer from all three panelists was "yes”.
The panel also shared the view that enterprise/business is an important market for ‘Always On, Always Connected’ PCs. Nunes stated that the battery life and constant connectivity elements of the Windows 10 on Snapdragon devices resonated well with enterprise companies. As a result, the partnership between Arm, Microsoft, and Qualcomm supports our enterprise partners to make sure that the technologies and platforms work for them. Software is a prominent part of this work, and as Rosinger explained, an important aspect of the partnership involves developing and refining software solutions for enterprise. Kishan noted that his team is continually optimizing these solutions and pointed to Microsoft Office as example of a virtual ecosystem with multiple existing extensions already supported through Arm technology. Microsoft is working with Arm and Qualcomm to make sure these enterprise solutions and optimizations are brought to market quicker.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are critically important to emerging innovations on PCs, and was an important discussion point raised. The panelists noted that each of their companies are making significant investments in AI and ML, with future technologies under development which will enable enhanced PC features and use cases in the next generation of many of these devices. Nunes also highlighted the importance of having a heterogenous compute platform to enable these technologies on PCs. Rosinger explained that Arm’s Project Trillium is one such platform that will be important to enable a new era of ultra-efficient ML inference.
Another important future innovation is 5G. Nunes believes that this will be a ‘game-changer’ for ‘Always On, Always Connected’ PCs, as it promises improved connectivity, bandwidth, and latency. 5G will also enable an overall better user experience and create even more use cases for PCs. Other developments noted by Nunes include the emergence of new LTE plans where consumers can add different devices, from smartphones to PCs, and improved security provided by the built-in connectivity.
All three panelists were complimentary about the partnership between Arm, Microsoft and Qualcomm, and potential developments in the future. Rosinger noted the long-standing relationship with Qualcomm, and the growth of that collaboration to include Microsoft as we work together on delivering the next Windows 10 on Snapdragon devices. Kishan expressed similar sentiments, stating that Microsoft was fully on board, and about Arm specifically, was complimentary about the technology support provided as part of the partnership, with no serious technical roadblocks.
Arm’s involvement has allowed Microsoft to fine-tune power management features on its Snapdragon-based PCs, particularly through taking advantage of DynamIQ big.LITTLE technology. The heterogeneous processing architecture enables various lower power and performance benefits on Windows 10 PCs. Using two types of processors within the technology, “LITTLE” processors are designed for maximum power efficiency, while “big” processors aim to provide maximum compute performance. The adoption of big.LITTLE by Microsoft is just one example of the leading role that our ecosystem is playing in terms of process technology and integration. Further performance gains and an improved user experience have been achieved across the second wave of Windows on 10 devices through the Snapdragon 850 based on DynamIQ-based cores. DynamIQ technology provides advanced compute capabilities, faster responsiveness and increased power savings.
While the Windows 10 on Snapdragon devices have huge potential to be a lasting and disruptive force in the PC market, all three panelists recognize that this is the start of a long-term journey. Nunes explained that it takes time to introduce new products to market, with the amount of Windows on 10 devices using a Snapdragon SoC needing to expand before sales start to ramp-up.
However, the future is positive. Kishan noted that Microsoft is continuing to work with Arm and Qualcomm on new innovations, with significant performance improvements likely in the future with new hardware and software. Meanwhile, Nunes stated that Qualcomm will continue to invest in the PC market, pointing to the recent launch of the new Samsung Galaxy Book2 and the Lenovo Yoga C630 WOS. It is clear that the partnership between Arm, Microsoft, and Qualcomm has the potential to change the fundamentals and make a huge impact in the PC market over the next few years.
Download White Paper