News Qualcomm has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Windows on ARM (but it's ending soon)

NTMBK

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Last week, we reported that MediaTek is planning to build a chipset for Windows on ARM. As it turns out, the Windows on ARM chipset space could be even hotter than that, because there’s a reason that we’ve only seen Qualcomm SoCs in ARM PCs so far. Qualcomm actually has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft for Windows on ARM, and speaking with people familiar with it, we’ve learned that the deal is set to expire soon.
Looking forward to seeing more competitors in the Windows space. I'm sure Mediatek will help push the prices down, and maybe we'll even see an NVidia powered laptop.
 

moinmoin

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No wonder Windows on ARM went nowhere so far. Lackluster support by both Qualcomm and Microsoft, and thanks to exclusivity no motivation to improve the state. They probably thought exclusivity alone sells and creates the market. I hope Microsoft makes Windows on ARM generally available so people can license and install it on different machines like in VMs on M1 if they so want.
 

NTMBK

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No wonder Windows on ARM went nowhere so far. Lackluster support by both Qualcomm and Microsoft, and thanks to exclusivity no motivation to improve the state. They probably thought exclusivity alone sells and creates the market. I hope Microsoft makes Windows on ARM generally available so people can license and install it on different machines like in VMs on M1 if they so want.
I wouldn't say Microsoft's support has been lacklustre. They've added support for x64 apps, they brought out Windows 11 on ARM on day 1, they added Hyper-V support, they reworked the scheduler to work better with big.LITTLE CPUs. It's just Qualcomm's terrible product pricing and insistence on bundling modems that caused the problems.
 

DisEnchantment

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Visual Studio planned to be ported on M1 but it wont run on arm64 :).
Arm has better support on Linux, basically every package has an arm64 build, but probably compiled for the most common instruction set.
If maintaining builds of the OS for generic amd64 is already tough, I am not sure MS will be doing a stellar job maintaining builds for several arm variants on top of the countless CPUs from AMD and Intel.

While only a part time time Windows user I still use and like Windows and I fear Windows will end up will multiple levels of abstraction and targeting the least common denominator in HW feature support losing lots of performance from Modern CPUs
Software is a big part in performance.
Being able to target an arch level and the optimization level give Linux distros the edge.
Clear Linux distro obliterates Windows 10/11 in basically everything. Even some distros which carry lots of bloat do better than Windows 10/11

In Linux/OSS ecosystem each IHV can submit patches and you can optimize the software packages/distro and compilers to target your HW features which I am not sure would be possible in Windows ecosystem.
I was a bit excited when I heard that Windows 11 will have a cut off for supporting modern CPUs only but seems it did not improve anything much.

Funny thing Anandtech does not consider Linux benchmarks valid (like GB) but they don't mind macOS numbers or Android numbers when comparing CPU performance with Intel/AMD processors using Windows.
 

Doug S

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This answers a lot of questions about why Microsoft didn't sell licenses separately from the hardware, dragged their feet so long with translation of 64 bit binaries, etc.

I wonder if either/both of Apple or Microsoft will have any interest in creating drivers to run Windows natively on M1 Macs, or it will remain VM only. At the very least Microsoft will probably start supporting those VMs, and selling licenses to run Windows on them.
 
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Shivansps

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You are kidding me, this was the reason? what was MS thinking.
I hope they now work on getting full support on the RPI 4, at this point if they just need the iGPU and wifi drivers.
 

scannall

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This answers a lot of questions about why Microsoft didn't sell licenses separately from the hardware, dragged their feet so long with translation of 64 bit binaries, etc.

I wonder if either/both of Apple or Microsoft will have any interest in creating drivers to run Windows natively on M1 Macs, or it will remain VM only. At the very least Microsoft will probably start supporting those VMs, and selling licenses to run Windows on them.
Apple has already said it is a Licensing issue, not a technical one. If having Windows video drivers will sell more Macs then they will make it available. It's likely the driver already exists.
 

gdansk

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It would have been nice of Qualcomm to make some decent chips available when they had an exclusivity arrangement. But all they did was overclocked Snapdragons. Guess the good chips come later with that Nuvia acquisition.
 
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DrMrLordX

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It would have been nice of Qualcomm to make some decent chips available when they had an exclusivity arrangement. But all they did was overclocked Snapdragons. Guess the good chips come later with that Nuvia acquisition.
It's questionable as to whether or not they had made the long-term commitments necessary to do anything better than 8cx or SQ1.
 

moinmoin

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It's questionable as to whether or not they had made the long-term commitments necessary to do anything better than 8cx or SQ1.
Those two chips weren't even the best Qualcomm had in each respective gen. It could have picked its flagship chip in both cases but didn't. Apple on the other hand didn't only pick its flagship chip but significantly extended it further.
 

moinmoin

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Eh? What did they have that was better than 8cx in Dec. 2019?
855+ (A76) had one core with higher speed (2.96 GHz vs. 2.84 GHz). SQ1 and SQ2 for Microsoft were the (minor) upgrades that increased the speed to 3 GHz and 3.15 GHz respectively (at which point Qualcomm already moved to next gen cores with A77 and later X1/A78).
 

DrMrLordX

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855+ (A76) had one core with higher speed (2.96 GHz vs. 2.84 GHz).
That isn't much of an improvement. I own an 855+ phone (ROG Phone II) and I was never able to decisively beat an 8cx in Geekbench 5 ST. Probably due to the better cooling of 8cx devices. Though I did try the freezer trick to up scores.
 

Roland00Address

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Wait? People did not know this?

It was covered as a partnership in 2016 (Dec so late 2016) when WoA was first announced, and when we first saw devices a year later (2017 but also Q4), it was told to reviewers that Qualcomm was going to be exclusive for a while but they were not going to provide more details to the tech press at the time.

It was just a question of “when” this was going to change.
 

Geegeeoh

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Why did Microsoft conceded the exclusivity? Well Qualcomm was arguably the best...
But Qualcomm went for the easy/cheap way and made the minimum effort.

They should have pushed for the expensive halo product... like someone else did and does.
 

Roland00Address

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Why did Microsoft conceded the exclusivity? Well Qualcomm was arguably the best...
But Qualcomm went for the easy/cheap way and made the minimum effort.

They should have pushed for the expensive halo product... like someone else did and does.
I am willing to bet… but I do not KNOW

that Qualcomm saw the early business to be a chicken and egg scenario, where you are going to lose money on these PCs unless you sell enough units, but also high enough profit per each unit sold.

Qualcomm would not want to compete in a business they see as a race to the bottom, till they confirm enough units sold or high enough profit per unit. Having a Mediatek and other skus competition may cause a race to the bottom similar to 2008 timeframe with netbooks.

Of course Windows on Arm was a failure for different reasons. The hardware did not have the drivers, the performance is not good enough, the price was too much for said performance, but also the battery life was not much better. You need at least 3 of the 4 things, and if the hardware does not have drivers you might as well go macOS, ipadOS, or Chromebook.
 

Geegeeoh

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But they secured the exclusive to avoid the race to the bottom... and wasted it.
Now they will face competition.
 

Thala

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Those two chips weren't even the best Qualcomm had in each respective gen. It could have picked its flagship chip in both cases but didn't.
Not true. A phone SoC designed for 3-4W TDP is significantly different than a 7W TDP tablet SoC as in the Surface Pro X. As example the phone SoC does have about half the memory bandwidth and about half the GPU performance.
And looking at CPU performance, the Surface Pro X is still today the fastest Windows device 7W TDP and below - it nearest competitor - Lakefield - fell way short.
 

Shivansps

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Not true. A phone SoC designed for 3-4W TDP is significantly different than a 7W TDP tablet SoC as in the Surface Pro X. As example the phone SoC does have about half the memory bandwidth and about half the GPU performance.
And looking at CPU performance, the Surface Pro X is still today the fastest Windows device 7W TDP and below - it nearest competitor - Lakefield - fell way short.
They still decided to go for 50% small cores that are really bad at running Windows. It is as they didnt cared. We only realised how bad that was after the original M1 launched.

If Qualcomm, Mediatek or wharever start making true Windows SoC they need to stop using those small cores that are meant for phones.

There is a market for this, both for ARM notebooks and ARM desktop boards, but they really need to stop using these small cores.
 
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DrMrLordX

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If Qualcomm, Mediatek or wharever start making true Windows SoC they need to stop using those small cores that are meant for phones.
The problem Qualcomm (and MediaTek) have is that Apple's phone small cores can go right into M1/M1 Pro/M1 Max, no problem.

Stuff like A55 or A510 though? Pfft. Whatever.
 
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Geegeeoh

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A couple of small cores might still be usefull, but they need to pump the big ones more...
Also it's not just about cores, but memory bandwidth, cache and hardware accelereted "extras".
 
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moinmoin

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And looking at CPU performance, the Surface Pro X is still today the fastest Windows device 7W TDP and below - it nearest competitor - Lakefield - fell way short.
So would you describe its relative lack of success (especially in public mindshare) as a marketing problem, not a performance one?
 
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Roland00Address

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But they secured the exclusive to avoid the race to the bottom... and wasted it.
Now they will face competition.
Yep I can understand the logic, but it was FAILURE, and thus I am a little aggravated / annoyed even though I wasted no money on WOA. It was a waste of time, good faith on users, good faith with developers, engineering talent, etc. A waste of time is worse than a race to the bottom, in some ways but not always.
 

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