[Insights] Qualcomm and Other Major Players Unveil New Arm-Based Processors, Targeting a Slice of the PC CPU Market

2023-11-07 Semiconductors editor

During the Snapdragon Summit 2023 in October, Qualcomm made a big announcement by introducing the Snapdragon X Elite chip, built on TSMC’s cutting-edge 4nm process. Qualcomm’s claim is bold; they assert that the chip will deliver superior performance compared to Intel’s x86 architecture and Apple’s M2 chip. Simultaneously, towards the end of October, Apple revealed its own Arm-based M3 chip. Notably, semiconductor giants AMD and NVIDIA are rumored to be exploring the development of new PC processors on the Arm architecture. The future outlook suggests that Arm-based processors may gradually cut in the market share traditionally held by x86 architecture processors.

TrendForce’s Insights:

  1. Qualcomm’s New PC Processor Poised to Expand the Arm-Based PC Processor Market

Following Intel’s September 2023 Meteor Lake processor release, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon X Elite, its latest Arm-based PC processor in October. This chip leverages TSMC’s advanced 4nm technology. Qualcomm is forging partnerships with Taiwanese heavyweights such as Quanta, Compal, Wistron, Acer, Asus, Realtek, Nuvoton and others, aiming to secure a foothold in the CPU market within the PC supply chain. This collaborative effort is expected to yield new PC products hitting the market in 2024.

As of 2023, Arm commands approximately 11% of the market share. Apple, a pioneer in PC chips built on the Arm architecture, has seen success with the release of three generations of processors since the 2020 debut of M1 chip.

With Qualcomm entering the Arm architecture group, AMD also intends to step into Arm architecture with the upcoming Phoenix processor, set for launch in 2025. There are also whispers of NVIDIA partnering with MediaTek to develop a chip processor featuring SoC+GPU capabilities on the Arm architecture, with an initial focus on ChromeBook market, where MediaTek boasts years of experience.

In the PC market, significant factors include processor development timelines, product performance, power efficiency, extended battery life, and compatibility with software and hardware. High-end CPUs and GPUs have become indispensable components for high-end computers. Currently, Intel leads the CPU market, with AMD following closely in the x86 landscape. As more companies delve into the development of Arm-based processors, there is potential for them to carve a share from the x86 market in the future.

  1. Arm Architecture Processors Gain Momentum, Intel Focusing on AI Software Application Processor Development

Apple’s M-series chips demonstrate their efficiency and extended battery life. Microsoft recognizes the advantages of the Arm architecture and is dedicated to fostering a strategic collaboration for Windows on Arm. This collaboration involves integrating operating systems with processors to attract leading manufacturers to engage in Arm-based processor development, aligning with the growing demands for AI PCs.

In the realm of x86 architecture, Intel enjoys a dominant position in the CPU market. To tap into the opportunities arising from AI PCs, Intel has integrated AI acceleration engine features into its processors, introducing a new generation of AI application processors that combine CPU, GPU, and NPU (Neural Processing Unit) functionalities. This caters to the growing demand for generative AI applications in enterprise mobile PCs. Furthermore, Intel has joined forces with major laptop brands to launch new AI PCs, aiming to seize a substantial share of the market.

As momentum grows in Arm-based processor development, Intel maintains confidence that their immediate effect on the demand for x86 architecture processors will be restrained. It is unlikely to hinder Intel’s continuous advancement in developing new processors. Unlike competitors concentrating on Arm architecture processor development, Intel places a stronger focus on AI software applications and the market opportunities arising from its partnership with the Microsoft platform.

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