Thu. Jun 13th, 2024


Now that Microsoft has debuted a pair of Snapdragon X ARM PCs, Qualcomm is coming out of the woodwork with a new Windows on ARM desktop development PC. It’s effectively a Windows version of the Mac Mini, though it’s meant to encourage app development for the Windows on ARM operating system and isn’t marketed toward the general public.



At $900, the Snapdragon Dev Kit for Windows costs less than Microsoft’s new ARM-based Surface Pro tablet and Surface Laptop devices. It runs on a special “Developer Edition” of the Snapdragon X Elite processor (model number X1E-00-1DE). This chipset, while impressive in name, is practically identical to the top-end version of the consumer-grade Snapdragon X Elite. The only notable difference is that it delivers dual core boost up to 4.3GHz.


Qualcomm’s development machine is also loaded with 32GB of LPDDR5x RAM and 512GB of NVMe Storage. It features both Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.3 wireless connectivity, plus a robust port selection—three USB 4 Type-C ports, a pair of USB 3.2 Type-A ports, a headphone port, an Ethernet jack of unspecified speed, and an HDMI port with an unspecified version number. All three USB-C ports may be used for accessories, as the machine is powered by a simple AC adapter.

The rear port selection of the Qualcomm Snapdragon Dev Kit for Windows.
Qualcomm

This isn’t the first Windows on ARM development kit. Qualcomm sold a similar PC in 2021, and Microsoft pushed its “Project Volterra” development kit last year. Each of these machines contained what was, at the time, the premiere Snapdragon desktop ARM processor.


Despite this deluge of Windows on ARM development hardware, app compatibility is still a problem. Windows on ARM can run both ARM and x86 applications, but the latter option requires a compatibility layer, which can reduce performance and battery life. Apple also experienced this problem when transitioning to ARM—it turned out to be a minor hurdle for the company, partially due to the fact that Apple stopped selling Intel-based machines and forced developers to get on board with ARM.

To Microsoft’s credit, the Windows on ARM compatibility layer is quite good, and many of the apps that people use every day (such as Google Chrome and OneDrive) run natively on ARM. Professional and creative apps present the biggest concern—Microsoft’s new ARM-based Surface devices cost over $1,000 and may attract engineers, 3D designers, or other professionals who need to run demanding applications. (Again, we saw this problem during the early days of Apple Silicon.)

Anyway, the Snapdragon Dev Kit for Windows is now available for pre-order from the Snapdragon Development Portal and will begin shipping on June 18th. It costs $900, which is less than you’d pay for a Surface Laptop or Surface Pro tablet with the Snapdragon X Elite chipset.


Source: Qualcomm



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By John P.

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