Intel warns over Snapdragon PC, Qualcomm responds

Intel warns over Snapdragon PC, Qualcomm responds

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

At the end of May at Computex in Taiwan Qualcomm said that Asus, Hewlett Packard and Lenovo would be the first three computer companies to bring out PCs powered by its Snapdragon 835 processor. The Snapdragon processors all comply with the ARM instruction set architecture rather than Intel’s x86 instruction set architecture.

For the computer companies there are at least two benefits. The Snapdragon 835 is implemented on Samsung’s 10nm FinFET process which provides for low power and Qualcomm can also supply the X16 LTE modem, which could supply gigabit connectivity. As a result, the three computer companies are all slated to produce sleek, thin and fanless PCs running Windows 10 later this year.

But this also strikes at Intel’s heartland.

One might expect that Microsoft, Qualcomm and these computer companies would use the appropriate high-level language compilers to recompile a version of Microsoft Windows 10 for the ARM ISA that Snapdragon 835 implements. But Windows 10 is lot of code and probably a lot of legacy code and ad hoc bug fixes. Emulation of the x86 on the Snapdragon 835 would likely be an easier route. If the emulation is good then the Windows 10 for x86 should run at similar speed perhaps to the same software on a previous generation of hardware.

So is not so big a surprise that Intel said in a blog that there have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel’s x86 ISA without Intel’s authorization.

“Intel invests enormous resources to advance its dynamic x86 ISA, and therefore Intel must protect these investments with a strong patent portfolio and other intellectual property rights.”

Next: Blog and response

The blog, written jointly by Intel’s general counsel Steven Rodgers and Intel Fellow Richard Uhlig, also listed its legal battles with other companies including United Microelectronics Corp., Advanced Micro Devices, Cyrix Corp., Chips and Technologies, Via Technologies, and, most recently, Transmeta Corp. “Enforcement actions have been unnecessary in recent years because other companies have respected Intel’s intellectual property rights,” the authors said.

They added that Intel welcomes lawful competition but is maintaining vigilance and stands ready to protect its intellectual property.

Qualcomm gave this response. “Given our recent announcement with Asus, HP and Lenovo, we found the blog that one of our competitors published on June 8 very interesting. We look forward to the launch of the always -onnected Windows 10 PC powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform later this year. As showcased at Computex 2017 in conjunction with Microsoft, the Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform brings a true always connected PC experience with support for up to Gigabit LTE connectivity and all-day battery life for sleek, thin and fanless designs. This will change the future of personal computing.”

Related links and articles:

Intel blog

News articles:

Intel commits $7bn to 7nm Arizona fab

Samsung set to take Intel’s chip crown

Qualcomm offers neural network SDK for Snapdragon processor

Soft Machines: promising, not proven

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