There are already enough rumors regarding Microsoft’s future devices, like the dual-display Surface code-named Centaurus. As per the latest reports, it’s expected to run Android apps out of the box. Still, chances are less likely it’s going to release in the near future.
Adding to the list of the rumors is a new Surface device which could be an ARM-based laptop powered by a Snapdragon 8cx chip. The beans have been spilled this time by Windows Central’s Zac Bowden via his Twitter handle.
Without telling much detail, Bowden confirmed that Microsoft is working on a new device code-named “Excalibur.” It is named after the sword of the British leader King Arthur.
"Excalibur" is your latest Surface codename to keep an eye out for. It's an 8cx device of some kind :)
— Zac Bowden (@zacbowden) June 24, 2019
As you might know, Snapdragon 8cx is the latest offering from Qualcomm. Complete with a 5G modem, it is designed to fuel the newer breed of always-on, always-connected PCs to rival the supremacy of Intel and AMD. Right now, there aren’t any devices in the market featuring the new chip.
If we talk numbers, the Snapdragon 8CX outperformed an Intel Core i5-8250U in the PCMark 10 benchmark tests. It was able to provide higher performance scores and still keep a toll on the battery life.
Speaking of future Microsoft devices, it’s believed that Centaurus will run the Windows Core OS (WCOS), which is the common base operating system which will power devices with different form factors. On top of that, it will have the rumored ‘Windows Lite’ shell.
Still, we don’t have any information on whether Excalibur would run the Windows Lite shell or something new entirely. Also, there are possibilities of the rumored device getting scraped off.
This won’t be the first time Microsoft has had its hand on ARM chips. It did the same for Surface in the past when the attempt wasn’t successful. So, it could be this time that a future version of Surface Pro would be powered by an ARM-based chip.
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The rumored device could also help Microsoft stand against Chromebooks which run Google’s Chrome OS. These lightweight machines are gaining traction in the education market.
Talking about Intel, the silicon giant is losing to its competitors and Microsoft switching sides could be another blow. In fact, Intel’s share in the smartphone chip market is nothing as compared to ARM. It won’t be a good news for the company to find its competitors taking away the PC market.
As an attempt to fix things, Intel recently announced the Project Athena. The company is sailing on the idea of a real-world battery life of up to 9 hours and wake from sleep in one second.
Intel has laid out a set of requirements that OEMs need to fulfill under Project Athena. Initially, there won’t be any branding on such machines, but the company has plans to introduce some sort of consumer-facing brand as the project progresses. It remains to be seen whether Intel is able to replicate the success it has had with Ultrabooks.
Update: According to Brad Sams of Thurrott.com, Excalibur is the codename for a custom SoC that Microsoft is building with Qualcomm. It could power a new ARM version of Surface Pro.
Meant to work better with Windows 10, it’s said that the company would pitch it as a reference design for other OEMs who want to use 8cx or similar chips in their upcoming products.