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Nvidia and AMD may launch Arm chips for Windows PCs soon

Nvidia Grace Hopper superchipImage: Nvidia

Qualcomm has long been understood to have an exclusivity agreement to supply Arm processors to the Windows PC market. A new report suggests that both Nvidia and, surprisingly, AMD, are prepared to jump in when that exclusivity agreement ends.

Reuters reported Monday that both chip companies are readying Arm processors for Windows PCs when Qualcomm’s agreement expires in 2024. Neither AMD nor Nvidia would confirm the agreement, the wire service reported.

The news comes on the eve of the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit, held in Maui, where Qualcomm has said previously that it would disclose more about its Snapdragon Elite platform and the Oryon processor. That disclosure could happen as early as today. The Snapdragon platform has been built upon Arm chips, which Windows runs on top of through both native and emulated code, a process that has taken years to develop.

Nvidia was actually an early player in the Arm processor game, supplying the Arm chip that powered the early Microsoft Surface RT. Over time, however, Microsoft moved away from Arm chips and to X86 chips manufactured by Intel and AMD. It has continued developing Arm processors, just not for Windows PCs, recently unveiling the massive “Grace Hopper” super chip (pictured above) for use in AI and high-performance data center workloads.

AMD has also flirted with the Arm architecture over the years, shipping small microcontrollers and even announcing a 64-bit Arm chip for servers, code-named “Seattle,” in 2013.

“From an AMD standpoint, we consider ourselves sort of the high-performance computing solution working with our customers, and that that is certainly the way we look at this,” AMD chief executive Dr. Lisa Su told a JPMorgan analyst event in 2021, according to Tom’s Hardware. “And if it means Arm for certain customers, we would certainly consider something in that realm as well.”

Will we see Arm chips from either of Intel’s top rivals? Next year could be a big one.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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