Digitimes Research: ARM-based models may dominate lower-end PC market

Chia-Han Lee, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei 0

As Microsoft and Qualcomm jointly announced in early December that the first Windows 10 notebooks with ARM-based Snapdragon 835 processors will be officially launched in early 2018, there will be more and more PCs with ARM processor architecture hitting the market. This is expected to let ARM-powered models dominate the midsize and low-end PC market, leaving the high-end professional and gaming segments to x86-based processors, according to Digitimes Research.

Due to cost concerns, PC replacement has slowed down and users would rather choose entry-level models for replacement if needed. This will inspire leading PC makers to roll out more devices with ARM-based processors that can help them reduce cost and sales prices to secure higher profitability.

Qualcomm said Window 10 devices with Snapdragon 835 processors have three advantages. They can turn on almost immediately, feature wireless LTE connectivity, and - maybe most importantly - offer the kind of battery life that can let users get through a day or two of work without having to recharge. The first two advantages can also be found in many higher-end PC devices using x86-architecture processors developed by Intel or AMD, but the "wireless LTE connectivity" function will be incorporated into all the entry-level Window 10 notebooks with ARM processors, branded by Microsoft as the "always-connected devices," Digitimes Research reveals.

HP and Asustek have released some ARM-based notebooks with Windows 10S, boasting cloud convenience, Microsoft Edge and Windows community apps. But the notebooks cannot run any non-community apps, meaning that any third-party apps downloaded by users cannot be executed in the devices. Users, however, will be allowed to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro free of charge to execute more Windows apps.

Digitimes Research believes that computer devices with ARM-architecture processors may rival those with x86 processors in performance along with their growing technological maturity. This, coupled with lower pricing and great extension of battery life, will pose a major impact on Intel's Ultrabook and other ultraslim notebooks with x86 processors, forcing such processors to serve even higher-tier and higher-performance PC or server markets. Qualcomm will accordingly have a chance of developing a presence in the PC processor market long dominated by Intel.