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Qualcomm excited, but quiet about Win 8 plans

Posted: 06 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:processors? smartbooks? display technology?

Qualcomm Inc. CEO Paul Jacobs appeared eager yet tight-lipped about obtaining a port of the next version of Microsoft Windows for its Snapdragon processor. Meanwhile, the company announced that engineers already have first silicon of Snapdragon's next generation called Krait, the chips of which will be sampled later this month.

In addition, Qualcomm revealed a decision to cancel an e-reader product using its Mirasol display technology. It has decided to wait to field a product next year when it can support volume production of a next-generation display.

Microsoft said in January it would make versions of Windows 8 available for ARM mobile SoCs. The same day, Nvidia announced it was working on Project Denver, a full line of ARM-based processors spanning notebooks to supercomputers.

By contrast, Jacobs hardly referred to Win 8 in a 70-minute keynote at the company's annual Uplinq developer conference in San Diego, California. However, he was upbeat on the software when asked about it in a press conference later in the day.

"I'm really excited about it because I think consumers will see very, very aggressive [experiments in system] form factors," said Jacobs, suggesting the early work will focus on mobile systems.

Paul Jacobs

"Once it gets started, the sky's the limit," he added, noting other companies are pursuing ARM-based servers, an area Qualcomm has not discussed to date.

Jacobs told EE Times that Qualcomm is "developing versions of Snapdragon for larger screens and more memory." But he declined to comment on a report quoting a Qualcomm exec at Computex in Taipei saying the company was specifically targeting laptops, the domain of one of its much larger rivals, Intel Corp.

Following Jacobs' lead, Raj Talluri, vice president of product management for Qualcomm's chipset division, showed enthusiasm about Win 8 for Snapdragon, but declined to use the word notebook.

"We don't try to distinguish what kind of products our customers will buildwhether it's a tablet, smartbook or notebookbut [Windows 8 marks] a sizeable growth opportunity," said Talluri in an interview with EE Times. "In a few years I am not sure what those products will look like because there's a blurring of the lines," he said, noting even Intel is talking about a new notebook concept, the ultrabook.

Talluri said the custom design of its Krait cores allow them to run at data rates up to 2.5GHz. "I have not seen an ARM A9 beyond 1.2GHz," he said referring to the cores in Nvidia's ARM chips.

Engineers are bringing up software on Krait chips now. Systems using the chips are expected to ship in the first half of 2012, he added.

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