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Qualcomm may be ditching Arm’s CPUs for its own custom CPUs, just as Samsung gave up making its own custom CPUs for its Exynos range. What gives?
First, a quick timeline:
- Qualcomm announced it would buy chip design company Nuvia on Jan 13, 2021.
- It said at the time: “Nuvia CPUs are expected to be integrated across Qualcomm Technologies’ broad portfolio of products, powering flagship smartphones, next-generation laptops…”
- This morning, March 16, Qualcomm announced the Nuvia acquisition is complete.
- More importantly, the company revealed: “The first Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms to feature Qualcomm’s new internally designed CPUs are expected to sample in the second half of 2022,” and are going to be “designed for high-performance ultraportable laptops”.
Nuvia-CPUs in Snapdragon chips late next year — what does it all mean?
- The first “samples” of a completely new SoC for ARM laptops probably implies we could start seeing these new chipsets in laptops sometime in 2023.
- It’s worth mentioning here that Nuvia was co-founded by Gerard Williams III, an influential silicon engineer, previously at Arm and Apple, and part of Apple’s team during the transition to custom silicon between 2010 and 2019.
- Regardless, this will be the first time we’ve seen custom Qualcomm CPUs inside laptops. They’ll still be Arm-based, but they won’t just be Arm’s Cortex CPUs, which anyone can purchase, build, and run.
- It’s not exactly big brain time to see this as a response to Apple and its recent Arm-powered computers, which are all running Apple’s M1 processor and doing very well indeed.
- Will these spill across to smartphones, too? Will the likes of, say, the Galaxy S24 and the OnePlus 12 offer a new CPU that offers a big boost? Who knows.
- There’s no guarantee of success. Qualcomm moved away from its own custom CPUs it previously used, up until the Snapdragon 821 in 2016.
- And Samsung’s own powerful but inefficient “Mongoose” custom CPUs were killed off last year.
While we’re here, Qualcomm’s next desktop computing-focused Snapdragon chipset could give low-end laptops a boost:
- Qualcomm is reportedly developing a Snapdragon 7c successor, which is more your mid-range Arm-based PC chipset for cheap and cheerful devices like Chromebooks with LTE connectivity.
- Like the Chromebook Spin 513 with optional LTE, for example.
🤳 The OnePlus 9 Pro will be available in a trick mirror finish: Morning Mist. Not much word about the possible OnePlus 9R yet… (Android Authority).
⏩ Red Magic 6 series launched globally: $600 for a 165Hz flagship (Android Authority).
🤡 Antutu bans the Realme GT after it finds evidence of benchmark cheating, including massively reducing the quality of the picture in the JPG decoding test (Android Authority).
📸 ZTE is working on a flagship smartphone with three 64MP cameras (Android Authority).
🦈 Black Shark 4 launch confirmed for March 23. A busy day that day, phew (Android Authority).
🔜 Moto G100 leak shows Motorola’s Snapdragon 870 phone is ready to go global (Android Authority).
🍎 Opensignal report claims iPhone 12 is slower than almost every Android phone in 5G/4G speed tests. The S21 leads the pack here, but it is Samsung’s third-generation 5G phone, the iPhone 12 is Apple’s first. Not sure that covers it though? (9to5Mac).
🔊 While we’re here: farewell HomePod, Apple’s most misunderstood product (9to5Mac).
🕵️♀️ Tinder users will soon be able to access a background check database (Engadget).
🚗 GM and Microsoft-backed Cruise acquires self-driving startup Voyage in another autonomous vehicle merger (The Verge).
🎧 The new $99 Xbox Wireless Headset “is a mic-drop moment”: “it’s the best attempt at being an Xbox gaming headset and an everyday set of wireless headphones I’ve tried yet” (The Verge).
📰 Facebook will pay News Corp to use its content in Australia, ending that battle (Engadget).
👨💻 A hacker got all my texts for $16 — a deep dive into just how bad SMS is (Vice).
🌞 NASA gets a quick peek at a mysterious layer of the Sun: map of the chromosphere’s magnetic field could help us predict solar weather patterns (Wired).
😬 Cricut now wants users to pay extra for unlimited use of …cutting machines they already own (Gizmodo).
📺 Reviews are out of the Justice League’s Snyder Cut: “No longer Whedonesque—and all the better” is how Ars Technica sees it, but opinions are wildly different, and a lot of people just aren’t sure if four hours is worth it. Also: “Even a good superhero flick (and this definitely isn’t) shouldn’t be this long,” is what The Hollywood Reporter thinks. General agreement that it’s better.
🌱 ELI5: “We already know how photosynthesis is done, so why can’t we create “artificial plants” that take CO2 and gives O2 and energy in exchange?” Short answer: it’s really hard (r/explainlikeimfive).
Pi Day is old news but this little chart race tracking the frequency of digits in Pi (r/dataisbeautiful), is pretty entertaining:
- If you do watch, it becomes the number seven gets all the attention. You’ll see what I mean.
All the best,
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor