SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Qualcomm's chief executive was high on enthusiasm but low on details about getting a port of the next version of Microsoft Windows for his Snapdragon processor. Separately, engineers have first silicon of Krait, the next-generation of Snapdragon, and expect to sample chips later this month.
In addition, Qualcomm revealed a decision to cancel an e-reader product using its Mirasol display technology. It has decided to wait to field a product next year when it can support volume production of a next-generation display.
Microsoft said in January it would make versions of Windows 8 available for ARM mobile SoCs. The same day, Nvidia announced it was working on Project Denver, a full line of ARM-based processors spanning notebooks to supercomputers.
By contrast, chief executive Paul Jacobs hardly referred to Win 8 in a 70-minute keynote at the company's annual Uplinq developer conference here. However, he was upbeat on the software when asked about it in a press conference later in the day.
"I'm really excited about it because I think consumers will see very, very aggressive [experiments in system] form factors," said Jacobs, suggesting the early work will focus on mobile systems.
"Once it gets started, the sky's the limit," he added, noting other companies are pursuing ARM-based servers, an area Qualcomm has not discussed to date.
Jacobs told EE Times that Qualcomm is "developing versions of Snapdragon for larger screens and more memory." But he declined to comment on a report quoting a Qualcomm exec at Computex in Taipei saying the company was specifically targeting laptops, the domain of one of its much larger rivals, Intel Corp.
Following Jacobs' lead, Raj Talluri, vice president of product management for Qualcomm's chip set division, showed enthusiasm about Win 8 for Snapdragon, but declined to use the word notebook.
"We don't try to distinguish what kind of products our customers will build—whether it’s a tablet, smartbook or notebook—but [Windows 8 marks] a sizeable growth opportunity," said Talluri in an interview with EE Times. "In a few years I am not sure what those products will look like because there's a blurring of the lines," he said, noting even Intel is talking about a new notebook concept, the ultrabook.
Talluri said the custom design of its Krait cores allow them to run at data rates up to 2.5 GHz. "I have not seen an ARM A9 beyond 1.2 GHz," he said referring to the cores in Nvidia's ARM chips.
Engineers are bringing up software on Krait chips now. Systems using the chips are expected to ship in the first half of 2012, he added.
In a press release issued late Wednesday (June 1), Qualcomm officially confirmed it will run a port of the next version of Windows on its Krait processors, beginning with the Snapdragon MSM8960, sampling in June. Qualcomm claims the chip is the first dual-core ARM SoC with an integrated multi-mode 3G/LTE modem and is designed to meet the multi-tasking requirements of the next version of Windows.
As announced earlier, Qualcomm will follow up the dual core
part with the quad-core Snapdragon APQ8064 which will sample in early 2012.
"We collaborate with Qualcomm because
Snapdragon-powered devices will help Windows 8 consumers experience more out of
their Windows device and enable hardware manufacturers to try exciting new PC
designs," said Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of Windows planning,
hardware and PC ecosystem, speaking in the Qualcomm release.