While Apple owns 90% of ARM-Based PC's today, Competitors are gearing up to adopt Qualcomm's ARM processors for PCs in 2024
When Apple introduced their next-generation M-Series processors, the industry was taken by surprise. Apple currently owns 90% of ARM based PC's, according to a new Counterpoint report. In the notebook sector, Apple accounts for about 12.8% of the market. Intel has slipped to 70% and AMD to 17.6%.
Personal computers (PCs) based on Arm architecture will grow in popularity and their market share will almost double from 14% now to 25% by 2027.
As more existing PC OEMs/ODMs and smartphone manufacturers enter the market, they will bring their expertise in Arm-based hardware and software, which will further boost the popularity of Arm-based PCs. The availability of more native Arm-based apps will also increase user comfort and familiarity with the platform. Overall, the trend towards Arm-based PCs is expected to continue and their market share will likely increase significantly in the coming years.
A major leap in ARM-based PC's will be coming to market in H2 2024 with Qualcomm introducing their Oryon n line of processors for PCs (and mobile devices).
Arm-based PC SoCs are highly customizable. Unlike x86 CPUs, which are designed to be general-purpose processors, Arm-based SoCs can be tailored to specific use cases. This means that SoCs can be designed with a greater number of high-performance CPU cores and highly integrated memory, enabling them to compete with x86 CPUs.
Their custom cores can enable more advanced features that are not possible with off-the-shelf processor cores, and allow for better integration with hardware and the operating system.
Furthermore, Arm-based SoCs can incorporate highly integrated memory, resulting in faster and more efficient memory access. This can lead to improved performance in graphics-intensive tasks by enabling faster data access and sharing between the CPU and GPU.
Arm-based SoCs offer several advantages over x86 CPUs, including lower power consumption and improved thermal efficiency. Additionally, their integrated AI-feature cores make them superior to x86 CPUs. They are designed with power efficiency in mind and can be customized to meet specific power requirements. This makes them ideal for use in mobile devices and laptops, where battery life is crucial.
With the increasing demand for AI capabilities, there is a growing need to enhance various multimedia tasks, such as image and video encoding and compression, noise cancellation, vocal enhancement, and style transfer. By integrating AI technology into Arm-based notebooks, these tasks can be performed more efficiently, resulting in improved performance and user experience.
Moreover, the integration of GPUs can further enhance the device’s overall performance by accelerating computational tasks such as machine learning and image recognition. This allows for faster and more accurate results, making it possible to run more advanced applications and software on Arm-based devices.
Arm-based PCs integrate more components into compact devices, allow multiple form factors
The size and weight of PCs are expected to decrease with the introduction of Arm-based SoCs. This will result in a smaller size difference between Arm-based PCs and tablets, facilitating easier integration of these two form factors by manufacturers. This is likely to lead to an increase in the production of laptop-tablet hybrids that can seamlessly switch between the two modes. With the growing popularity and affordability of these devices, convergence between laptop and tablet form factors is likely to intensify.
For more on this, read the full Counterpoint report.
While you can speculate as to why Qualcomm's Oryon is behind first estimates to market, some of that delay was probably engineered between Microsoft and Qualcomm in preparing for the reinvented Windows 12 that could change everything Windows-related including desktops, notebooks, tablets, hybrid tablet-notebooks, folding tablets and many other devices from Microsoft and their ecosystem (HP, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, Asus and more). The goal is to mimic what Apple has done with their multitude of segmented operating systems (macOS, iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS and likely xrOS).
In March we posted a report titled "Apple's macOS has been steadily gaining ground on Microsoft's Windows for more than a decade and the stats don't really tell the full story." The motivation to reinvent Windows was written on the wall and their new OS approach matches the new chips being developed by Qualcomm that focuses on "Cores."
Microsoft's Windows 12 may finally deliver where Windows 10X failed in 2021. The new project is simply codenamed CorePC and is designed to be a modular and customizable variant of Windows for Microsoft to leverage different form factors with. Not all Windows PCs need the full breadth of legacy Win32 app support, and CorePC will allow Microsoft to configure “editions” of Windows with varying levels of feature and app compatibility – just as Apple has been doing and noted above.
Lastly, word is that Microsoft is experimenting with a version of CorePC that’s “silicon-optimized,” designed to reduce legacy overhead, focus on AI capabilities, and vertically optimize hardware and software experiences in a way similar to that of Apple Silicon. Unsurprisingly, AI experiences are a key focus for Windows going into 2024. You could check out the Windows Central report for more on this development.
Over the last decade or longer, we've watched Microsoft keynotes on the next great version of Windows that quite frankly never came to be. The prospects of Windows 10X excited PC geeks, but let them down again in 2021.
Call me crazy, but I think with Qualcomm's NUVIA team working with Microsoft on an OS architecture to match their new ARM-based architecture, could actually pan out. It's why Counterpoint is projecting ARM-based PC's leaping to 25% of the market by 2027.
And the product that is likely to be one of their top priorities is the foldable tablet or hybrid-notebook class that could advance the concept of a mobile desktop.
I think this is where competition will push the market to reinvent or at least refresh itself and bring new form factors and innovative ideas and apps to market faster. It may even push Apple to try new PC form factors like their patented glass iMac (concept shown below). It may be wishful thinking on my part, but we can always hope.
PC industry players have wanted to have a fair fight with Apple for years and Windows 12 (CorePC) and Qualcomm's next-gen chips may provide them with the parity that they've sought. Hopefully that will push both sides of the PC coin to deliver not only speed advances but also new form factors to excite their respective fan bases with.