From www.androidauthority.com

MediaTek chips for Windows on Arm are coming as Qualcomm exclusivity nears end

Kris Carlon / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • MediaTek is designing chips to challenge Qualcomm’s dominance in the Windows on Arm ecosystem.
  • However, Qualcomm has signed an exclusivity deal with Microsoft until the end of 2024.
  • If not renewed by 2025, we may see alternative Windows on Arm chips from MediaTek, Nvidia, and AMD.

Windows on Arm has been around since 2017, but every device released so far has been powered exclusively by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. Chipmakers like MediaTek, who otherwise have competitive Arm-based SoCs in the Android and Chromebook markets, have yet to be part of the Windows on Arm program. This disparity was especially evident when Microsoft and Qualcomm partnered with over half a dozen PC manufacturers to launch Windows on Arm devices at Computex 2024 earlier this month.

However, a new report suggests that Snapdragon chips won’t be the only choice for consumers soon. Specifically, Reuters reports that MediaTek is developing its own Arm-based PC chip with plans to launch it in late 2025. Microsoft’s exclusivity deal with Qualcomm is also said to end before then, allowing the OS maker to finally collaborate with other chipmakers. The publication’s three sources suggest that MediaTek’s chip is based on Arm’s ready-made designs, which could help speed up development.

Qualcomm’s big Windows on Arm push this year comes courtesy of its 2021 acquisition of chip startup Nuvia. The latter was founded by three ex-Apple engineers who worked on the Arm-based Apple Silicon chips that have powered Mac devices since 2020. Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon X series is the first product line to benefit from Nuvia’s talent and is expected to power all new Windows on Arm devices through the end of this year.

While we’re still a week away from conducting or seeing independent benchmarks, Nuvia’s expertise may have enabled Qualcomm to leapfrog Apple in terms of performance this year. The company is claiming on par or better performance compared to Apple’s M3 chip, a feat that may establish Windows on Arm as a viable alternative to the traditional x86 CPU architecture.

Notably, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of MediaTek developing a Windows on Arm chip behind closed doors. The Microsoft-Qualcomm exclusivity deal first came into focus in 2021, when it was expected to imminently expire. However, the two companies likely signed an extension. Reuters now reports that the deal is set to end later this year instead.

MediaTek isn’t the only chipmaker looking to capture the Windows on Arm ecosystem. Previous reports have indicated Nvidia and AMD both have Arm chips in the pipeline and are looking to make their debut in 2025 as well.

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