back to article Intel, AMD take a back seat as Qualcomm takes center stage in Microsoft's AI PC push

Microsoft isn't waiting around for Intel and AMD to get their neural processing units (NPUs) up to snuff and is pushing its AI PC agenda forward with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite and X Plus system-on-chips (SoCs). During a special event ahead of Tuesday's Build conference, Microsoft revealed these latest Arm-compatible …

  1. iced.lemonade

    privacy nightmare

    logging every event you do and 'promise' that it stays local - how far can you trust them when by default your whole personal folder (including desktop) are on their machines? maybe one day they will move it onto their machine too in the name of improving system performance / quality assurance / etc?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: ogging every event you do

      naturally, that would include every keystroke, mouse movement and touch gesture.

      IT can't be kept locally otherwise how can MSFT sell it to Ad slingers?

      As for software... Didn't Apple move to ARM with their Rosetta app ready to go. Translate once and run natively from then on. Unless MS gets it act together like Apple (boo hiss) did their move away from Intel will prove to be another 'fine mess'.

      Those who spent their or their companies money on these Surface things will find once again that they have bought into a dead end (Again)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ogging every event you do

        The time to speak up was over nine years ago when the extent of Windows 10 telemetry was revealed. Very few spoke up against it (I was one of them and was roundly ridiculed by my peers for "over-reacting"), while others bought into the absolute horseshyte from Microsoft marketing about respecting privacy, etc.

        And here we are. Embedded surveillance on every PC running Windows. Every key press sent to the mothership, while AI screenshots your monitors regularly to see what you are up to. All controlled by a corporation that has zero self-restraint in buggering your right to privacy and charging you monthly for the privilege.

        You were warned this was coming and did nothing, so forgive the "I told you so" attitude and absolute lack of sympathy for the subscription briar patch you find yourselves mired in. You signed your rights away freely and now you are moaning about it as realization is hammered home.

        At least the press are keeping Microsoft execs honest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHEPBzYick0

      2. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: ogging every event you do

        I've been using a Surface Pro X (SQ1 ARM CPU) as my main travelling machine since 2020. It's very lovely, and still fully supported. I've ordered an X Elite Surface Pro to replace it.

        You don't want one? That's fine, your choice, I'm happy for you.

        GJC

    2. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: privacy nightmare

      logging every event you do and 'promise' that it stays local

      The "if" it stays local is a biggie. But also, Microsoft management are clearly in techbro fantasy land "Everyone has their own, private device that only they use right?".

      They're struggling to conceive of people who live a life different to their own, or who have threat models different to their own.

      The BBC reports that the UK's Information Commissioner's Office is making inquiries (I'm sure they'll come down on MS with all the force of a warm snuggly duvet). Quoting Microsoft:

      "a would-be hacker would need to gain physical access to your device, unlock it and sign in before they could access saved screenshots."

      A would-be hacker or... a domestic abuser. Who can be reasonably sure of having full access to a device.

      Oh no. Physical access and unlocking it? Inconceivable! (Obligatory XKCD).

  2. Jason Hindle

    Not necessary to beat Apple

    The goal should be Windows systems that match or beat Intel/AMD on performance while delivering greater power efficiency, thermal performance, and battery life. As anyone who has run Windows under Parallels on an Mx Mac knows, performance and emulation should be fine.

    1. joed

      Re: Not necessary to beat Apple

      "As anyone who has run Windows under Parallels on an Mx Mac knows, performance and emulation should be fine." - not to a pedant, but afaik Parallels does not support emulation, hence once MS had pulled the rug on W10 for arm64 so was W10 done for on new Macs. I setup W10 x64 vm in QEMU - after some tweaks I had it running but nowhere near arm64 W11 speeds. Proof of concept for sure and it worked if someone really needed tools available for x64 platform but this was about it.

      There's quite some hype about Mx performance. Some of due to MS' choices to cripple Windows with useless crap. Otoh, trying to use Mac as media center proves how much necessary plumbing (and resulting CPU overhead) Apple platform was missing. Probably the same in more aspects than this one.

      1. Jason Hindle

        Re: Not necessary to beat Apple

        Erm, I happily run some x86 software in Windows 11 hosted by Parallels. For example, a phone that will likely never be ported to ARM. It's Windows on ARM that supports emulation. Parallels is pretty irrelevant in that respect.

  3. Sartori

    ARM Desktop?

    Maybe I'm just weird, but I think it would be interesting to see a Desktop CPU variant for Windows on Arm, to see what it's capable of when it's not so restricted by mobile device thermals and power limits. Will be interesting to see what the performance is like on the mobile devices anyway.

    1. goldcd

      Re: ARM Desktop?

      https://www.qualcomm.com/news/releases/2024/05/qualcomm-accelerates-development-for-copilot--pcs-with-snapdrago

    2. druck Silver badge

      Re: ARM Desktop?

      I'd like to see an ARM desktop system (again #RISC_OS), but I wouldn't want to cripple it with Windows.

    3. Geoff Campbell Silver badge
      Go

      Re: ARM Desktop?

      I suspect we'll see some interesting power-user CPUs from Qualcomm in time, as part of a move to capture the data centre market. They're buggers for counting CPU cycles per watt or per dollar, and the ARM cores play very well into that.

      GJC

  4. Mishak Silver badge

    Check the numbers...

    I've seen reports else where that these new machines have cooling fans, so it would be more reasonable to compare the performance against the MacBook Pro (which is faster than the Air in sustained tests because it has a fan).

  5. Sok Puppette

    What kind of ML am I supposed to do with my 45 TOPS

    ... when the Snapdragon X Elite only gives me 135 GB/s of memory bandwidth to feed it?

    If I'm quantizing my model to 8 bits, that means I have to find on the average 330 operations to do on any given weight every time I fetch it.

    I'm not an expert, but I don't think ML works like that. I think it's mostly big dot products that only do a handful of operations per weight on each pass over the entire giant definitely-will-not-remotely-fit-in-cache model.

  6. Geoff (inMelbourne)

    I wonder when we'll see other ARM licensees making Windows-on-ARM PCs.

    Nvidia seems to me to be one obvious option.

  7. Rgen

    MS wants free data to train their A.I. recall all.

  8. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

    Will these ARM laptops have something like UEFI where one Linux distro can run on every ARM device? Or will it be locked down proprietary shite as we've seen with pretty much all other ARM devices such as smartphones, Macbooks and RaspPis where you have to create a specific OS image for every single device you want to target?

    1. dafe

      At least you can still load custom.images on those devices. UEFI was originally meant to prevent that.

      If they really want to lock them down, they could build them such that the boot image is in a part you cannot replace.

  9. Wade Burchette

    Dead end to me

    I want this AI stuff as far away from computer as possible. For those that do want, I think they will quickly grow bored with it. I got a free VR adapter for my Samsung phone many years ago. When I first started playing with VR, I said to myself that it was great. But it didn't take long for me to grow bored with it. Now that VR device is still in a drawer somewhere, untouched for years. This AI fad will likely be the same for the majority of people. AI may be a short-term seller, but a long-term dead end.

    The only reason I put up with the abuse Microsoft heaps on me is because of full legacy compatibility with my games. If I have to give that up, I will dump Windows faster than you can count to 1. If Qualcomm cannot provide good x86 emulation, there is going to be a lot of unhappy people. Qualcomm has a history of shady practices with their CDMA mobile phone standard. They also have a history of massively overstating their product's performance. Qualcomm is not Apple. Apple could switch to ARM because they control the whole ecosystem and because a significant number of their customers would buy still their product no matter how bad it is. (Watch Louis Rossman's YouTube channel for a history of the abuse people gladly put up with from Apple.) Nobody worships Qualcomm like they worship Apple. If they screw up, these people will not keep buying their product. For me, I would buy a Linux on ARM computer, never a Windows on ARM computer because I hate what Windows has become and how Microsoft treats me.

    1. Snapper

      Re: Dead end to me

      'I hate what Windows has become'.

      Are you surprised it's come to this? I think it's because they have the capability now rather than changing their spots.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Users feedback ?

    It is waiting for users feedback.....

    How many users are there that can test this feature. It not even in any Canary insider build. Only on ARM qualcomm notebook PC's.

    it will be rolled out within one month of announcement into the market... Go figure..

    Folks who preordered may choose to cancel their order due to the spy feature they cant switch off for many apps , rightfully.

    Hopefully wont see this ever on an Intel/AMD board, perhaps a socket like a TPM ? Oh no. Windows 12 will make that hardware requirement.....

  11. HuBo
    Mushroom

    Destroy?

    Good to hear about the Qualcomm-Nuvia-Oryon vs Softbank-ARM issue -- a rarity these days, yet something that might well bear on upcoming long-term success of this specific platform, particularly with the more standardized ARMv9 tech as competition (CSS copy-paste scalable design).

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