updated 02:55 pm EDT, Sat March 31, 2012
Qualcomm hopes ARM ultrabooks to take off
Qualcomm senior VP Rob Chandhok in discussion Friday made clear that the quad-core version of the Snapdragon S4 would be destined for Windows 8 notebooks. Confirming that ARM wouldn't be confined to tablets for Windows 8, Chandhok told IDG that he expected them to show up Intel's ultrabook concept with thinner designs and longer battery life. They would share the 28 nanometer process behind the dual-core versions, but the extra power would make them more viable for games and more complex apps as the software underwent an "maturation."
ARM-powered ultrabooks may face challenges getting acceptance. A handful of companies like HP and Toshiba have tried ARM-based notebooks running Android, but they sold in small enough numbers that they quickly lost momentum. Windows 8 on ARM doesn't have backwards compatibility with either pre-8 apps or with traditional desktop apps outside of a handful of pre-selected Microsoft apps.
The platform's fate could still be different. As Windows 8 is a desktop OS, it should get major apps optimized for a notebook screen instead of the moblie-only apps of Android. Technology advances since the first ARM PCs could also lead to a better experience through performance closer to a regular notebook as well as longer battery life that could provide a clear incentive over an Intel-based PC.
Only a few Windows 8 devices are expected for the possible October launch, most of which would be tablets. How many would use the S4 weren't clear, and at least one or more will use chips from NVIDIA and TI.