Quad-core Snapdragon S4 is firing up for laptop wars

April 3, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Google is moving toward social; Facebook is moving to search; and now the chip kings are doing a similar dance into different territory. Intel is muscling in on smartphones and Qualcomm wants a big bite out of the laptop market. The news is that Qualcomm intends to place its quad-core Snapdragon S4 chips for Windows 8 laptops on the market later this year. Expectations are that, as Windows 8 launches in October, the Qualcomm chip laptops will be on board by the year’s end. News of the Qualcomm plan to make a dent in the laptop market was presented in PC World’s exchange with Qualcomm senior vice president, Rob Chandhok.

In pacing this PC market push, Qualcomm already started shipping prototype Snapdragon-based Windows 8 machines to developers. The program combines a pre-release version of Windows on ARM with Snapdragon S4 test PCs. Qualcomm has become part of Microsoft’s Windows on ARM developer seeding program. The two companies are working on putting test PCs, SoC-loaded computers, in the hands of select developers, in an invitation-only program. The developers can test and optimize applications for Snapdragon-powered Windows on ARM PCs.

Qualcomm's Windows move will serve its intention to bite into Intel market share in the PC and tablet category. The Qualcomm selling point is that the Snapdragon S4 , with its 28nm architecture, will pave the way for vendors to issue skinny, light, powerful, yet power-efficient, laptops, head to head with Intel “ultrabooks.”

Chandhok is also playing on the advantages of Snapdragon-based Windows 8 machines as very light. He seemed to be suggesting they will be surprisingly light. "We think much lighter than what Intel calls an ultrabook," Chandhok said in the report. He noted that having a powerful Snapdragon chip with four CPU cores and multiple graphics cores will really enhance Windows 8 devices for applications such as games.

Those outside Qualcomm are prepared to wait and see to what extent Snapdragon on Windows 8 will boost the company’s standing in ultrabook PCs, especially as to if and how Snapdragon S4 chips for Windows 8 laptops will outperform competing products with Intel on board.

Until now, has been known as a manufacturer of chips for smartphones and tablets. They will be going up against competition not only from Intel but also from Nvidia and Texas Instruments. As several observers note, consumers can expect to have interesting choices in ultra-thin laptops as a result.

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0.6 / 5 (46) Apr 03, 2012
The ARM architecture can be directly traced back to the UK's BBC.

Thank God for Government funded programs.
1.9 / 5 (9) Apr 03, 2012
Really looking forward to Win8 and ARM, should be some great tablets. First I had read about Snap Dragon laptops, will be interesting to see what they are like.
3.9 / 5 (14) Apr 03, 2012
Thank God for Government funded programs.

Technically, it was by a private company Acorn that sold the BBC a computer based not on the ARM processor, but on a MOS processor, that they would sell under the BBC micro brand. The ARM processor wasn't developed for BBC with their money but for use in the Acorn Business Machine that was based on the BBC micro by extending it with the new processor. But it never made to sale. It was replaced by the Acorn Archimedes instead that dropped the MOS ARM design and used the ARM on its own.

But I guess you can interpret it as a government funded program when one of the customers for the company, and thus a source of revenue was the British Broadcasting Corporation, which is autonomous of the government because it operates as a corporation under a royal charter.
3.9 / 5 (14) Apr 03, 2012
But let's not get facts in the way of good propaganda, eh Vendicar? :)
5 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2012
it's also fair to say that the BBC micro wasn't responsible for ARM's fortunes, they made their mark by being adopted by the mobile phone market.
ARM's architecture today is very far removed from the processors they used in the BBC Micro.
3.7 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2012
ARM's architecture today is very far removed from the processors they used in the BBC Micro.

Indeed. It had nothing to do with the MOS 6502 in the BBC micro. That was made by an entirely different company. Acorn's engineers went to Berkeley to see what they've come up with, and designed a similiar processor, and outsourced the manufacturing to yet another different company.

Which they still do because the ARM processors are sold as lisences, and the company that buys the lisence only gets the permission to manufacture it. The lisence only applies to the bare essential core of the processor, so the OEM then adds parts that suit the application at hand, and that is why the design is so immensely popular with cellphones.

1 / 5 (3) Apr 03, 2012
Wonder how this will all shake out if Intel buys Qualcomm, as has been suggested by numerous others?
1 / 5 (6) Apr 03, 2012
Using this processor in a linux based tablet would be good, I hear the specs for the processor and embedded support circuitry offer some low end smarts so it may be suitable for more mission critical applications such as diagnostic/medical monitoring equipment.

Nowadays the relative ease with which core designs can be integrated with sensor type analog front ends such as large bit count ADCs, timers etc may offer it as a useful embedded unit for a number of applications - but is ARM easily portable to run i386 type binary code for Windows 8 or do we have Windows 8 in pseudo code ?
0.3 / 5 (40) Apr 03, 2012
Acorn wouldn't exist without the British Government's BBC and it's funding.

3 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2012

LOL. BBC just happen to be a customer. They could have sold their product to many other buyers. Youtube is the next wiki. I'll make a video with no facts behind it and uphold my arguments with it.
0.3 / 5 (37) Apr 04, 2012
"BBC just happen to be a customer." - Aimbotfriend

Yes, the government BBC, funded Acorn through purchases of these components.

No one else did.

Without that funding, ARM would not exist.

2.3 / 5 (6) Apr 04, 2012

No one else did.


Without that funding, ARM would not exist.

The ARM design team was only a handful of people, and since they didn't have their own manufacturing it actually cost very little. They did the same thing as people did in Berkeley and Stanford, and simply drew up schematics and sent them off to manufacturing elsewhere. It was less about funding and more about the right ideas and the right people meeting at the right time.

And, BBC is still autonomous from the government. It is not the government. All the government does is set the amount of the TV lisence fee, and everything else is handled separately.

If BBC wasn't separate from the government, it couldn't even begin to pretend to be impartial.
0.2 / 5 (36) Apr 04, 2012
the BBC license fee is a government tax of 140 pounds per year per color TV in the U.K.

The BBC and the BBC Micro were/are funded through that government tax.

"All the government does is set the amount of the TV lisence fee, and everything else is handled separately." = Eikka
2.7 / 5 (7) Apr 07, 2012
The BBC and the BBC Micro were/are funded through that government tax.

Nope. It's neither a government tax, nor were the computers paid for with that money. BBC didn't actually buy the computers, although, they obviously had to buy a few for themselves.

The public did.

Educational institutions were paid government subsidies for computer purchases, but the BBC micro was only one of the computers they could buy. It had competition like the Sinclair ZX which was hugely popular, not only because it was much cheaper.

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