back to article Lap-slabtop-mobes with Snapdragon Arm CPUs running Windows 10: We had a quick gander

Qualcomm, Microsoft, Asus, HP Inc and Lenovo today talked up their upcoming Arm-compatible, Snapdragon-powered three-in-one Windows 10 PCs. "Three in one" because they combine a laptop, a tablet, and smartphone-like connectivity in one. The laptop is the base unit. It's also a tablet because the display is a touchscreen and, …

Silver badge

"Three in one" because they combine a laptop, a tablet, and smartphone-like connectivity in one.

ASUS did this (more or less) with Android on some of its Padfone products. A smartphone with a dumb tablet "skin" that could then be attached to a keyboard.

The concept was abandoned years ago, but at least a Windows laptop is useful.

3
4
Silver badge

Adding a keyboard to a phone isn't quite the same as adding 4G mobile data to a laptop

6
2
Silver badge

Is the only "smartphone" feature here the SIM slot?

That's been available in laptops and tablets for years...

6
0
Anonymous Coward

adding 4G mobile data to a laptop

"adding [high speed] mobile data to a laptop"

The 1990s called. They're wondering if everyone's forgotten about things like Nokia 6310s and laptops communicating via infrared. Stuff that worked (on the whole) and was relatively secure (hmmm). Plus:

No battery issue because each device has its own power.

No portability/size/weight issue because each device is with the user anyway.

No vendor opportunity to charge an extra $200 for a miniPCB internal addon consisting of bits that cost $10.

Oh well.

3
1
Holmes

Re: The 1990s called...

The 90s have never heard of the 6310 because it was released in 2001.

7
0
Anonymous Coward

Windows laptop useful? In what way? Who even wants to run x86 apps anymore? Especially not if they run 1/4 (or worse) of it's native speed.

This will be yet another in a long line of Windows fails, where they really don't understand what people want (as what people want is no longer Microsoft)

3
0
Silver badge

Emulation ?

If you can only run MSFT store approved apps you can easily restrict that to .Net

If the app is running .Net bytecode does that really need an emulator or is it just a different .Net runtime for the CLI?

3
6

Emulation ?

Perhaps it's only with Win 10 Pro but I think you can run any x86 programs you want. There is a video on Youtube from Microsoft showing Photoshop running on a Snapdragon box.

4
1

Re: Emulation ?

We'll see.

The now abandoned Microsoft Surface promised this, and just burned many users.

We'll also have to see how Intel's IP lawyers feel about x86 emulation on an ARM. They own the TransMeta patents.

6
2

Re: Emulation ?

I don't think the emulation is being done in hardware. Software emulation of another CPU is unlikely to infringe or qemu would be in a heap of trouble.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Emulation ?

The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation). Moreover, system libraries—the various DLLs that applications load to make use of operating system features—are all native ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling them "Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables" (or "chippie" for short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a way as to let them respond to x86 function calls...

.... For the most part, Windows 10 on ARM should be identical to that on x86. The most notable exception is perhaps that there's no Hyper-V virtualization, and since so many of its features depend on Hyper-V, no version of Windows 10 Enterprise for ARM.

_ https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/12/hp-asus-announce-first-windows-10-arm-pcs-20-hour-battery-life-gigabit-lte/

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Emulation ?

So a combination of recompilation and native libraries. Since it's not on the fly after the first invocation, and since it's software-based, Intel would probably lose in a lawsuit given existing prior art.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Emulation ? Translation?

Further prior art for the mixed emulation/on-the-fly/translation for later probably also includes DEC's FX!32, which allowed Win32 apps for x86 to run on NT/Alpha systems.

"Intel would probably lose in a lawsuit given existing prior art."

Maybe. Intel have very big pockets. It may not have to actually get to court. Again, see DEC Alpha - but in that case, it was about Alpha vs Itanic. Intel's cash pile, not Intel's allegedly superior technology in Itanic, is what killed Alpha.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FX!32

1
0

Re: Emulation ?

Parts of the .NET runtime use Win32 calls under the hood. There are subsets of .NET runtime that don't, if you target those then it should run with no emulation.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Emulation ?

> Perhaps it's only with Win 10 Pro but I think you can run any x86 programs you want.

Win10S certainly does not run "any x86 program that you want", only what is in the store. The Snapdragon does run x86, but only 32 bit. x86-64 does not run.

1
0

if there was an ARM native version of the Office suite then I could see some value in this (as long as it's as usable and reliable as my trusty MacBook Air) but if my primary apps are going to be running in emulation mode it'll be a slow, frustrating experience and I suspect would never reach the expected battery life.

telcos will find ways to screw with the experience to try and drag an extra buck out of users (and the device will probably support limited bands which will make hopping countries a pain, not to mention international roaming rip-offs from folks like Telstra that have me searching for wifi when I'm overseas)

It does solve part of the the problem with the previous Windows Phones and ARM based devices in that it can finally run real apps so they won't launch with just the dozen than Microsoft Evangelists could pay people to develop (and drop as soon as the cheques stopped coming)... but the performance is going to be the make or break of this especially if they want to complete with an iPad for the same money but the added cachet of having well optimized apps created for the form factor...

5
3
Linux

Linux?

Imagine adding a solid state drive and installing Linux. That should fly like the wind. :)

14
17
Bronze badge

Re: Linux?

They just cant help themselves

Nobody has mentioned Linux yet - lets steer it that way.....

tedious

20
17
Silver badge

Re: Linux?

Imagine adding a solid state drive

As I understand it, the storage is soldered-on eMMC or something and you're stuck with what you're given. That said, you could do a lot of useful Linux-y stuff with what you're given in these cases, and you can always slot in an SD card.

M.

8
0
Silver badge

Re: Linux?

I own an Intel-based version of this (mostly as a media device, so lack of power isn't an issue, the onboard GPU does the lifting--sucks at 3D but plenty of oomph for 1080p). He's right, it'll likely uses eMMC (and it CAN be a bit skimpy, mine only has 32GB), so they'll likely have an SD or MicroSD slot to use for data storage. There's just about no way you can get 20 hours of battery life with spinning rust.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: Linux?

I'd like to have a NUC-sized computer (or perhaps even Raspberry Pi sized) with these guts. Nice 64bit ARM CPU and lots of memory and disk space, HDMI or DP output, few USB interfaces, (micro)SD card and two 1Gbps Ethernet ports - yummy.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Linux?

Why bother with getting an ARM machine, when a four year old laptop with an SSD upgrade will be faster, more useful, and most importantly for linux, there's a chance some of the hardware might be supported.

5
5

Re: Linux?

Does anyone know if the UEFI (or whatever) boot system is sufficiently relaxed that alternative operating systems can be installed?

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Linux?

Why bother with getting an ARM machine, when a four year old laptop with an SSD upgrade will be faster, more useful, and most importantly for linux, there's a chance some of the hardware might be supported.

Show me this mythical 4 year old laptop with a 20hr battery life.

And why "can we Linux"? Lets see:

* Cheaper SKU if we don't have to buy wiindows

* No need for on-the-fly code translation

* No restrictions on what we can run on it (You can only install Chrome on the pro SKU? GTFO)

* Its what we actually use in day to day life

Sorry if this bores you, I'm a tech guy, I use Linux for my work, Linux on my phone and Linux on all my home machines, please forgive me for being interested in whether this new device can actually be useful for my needs.

5
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: Linux?

There are people to whom Windows is useless so asking whether it is possible to install some other operating system is fine. But it would probably be better to wait for some device that contains support for M.2 NVMe SSDs.

2
1
Silver badge

Re: Linux?

I also use linux a lot, which was why my biggest question about this was hardware support. I've yet to find hardware that's less than 6 months old which works out of the box with most distros.

As for the mythical laptop with a twenty hour battery, isn't that still a myth? (Some older laptops are big enough to fit multiple batteries in which might get you closer though) And again, I wouldn't count on the power-saving working correctly under linux at launch.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Most people don't need a powerful computer...

...so these would fit the bill. A bit of wordprocessing, some video playback, some browsing - very few people ever needed anything more than something like a P3 (about the same performance as ARM) would be able to do with a decent video card. Intel's innovation stalled because AMD wasn't putting up much of a fight but another factor was: very few people (comparatively) needed to edit video, play high-end games on a pc, manipulate large datasets etc. Most people aren't content creators and as such these with their very good battery life will do well, when old hardware dies... the trouble is old hardware tends to keep working long after the software has abandoned it, therefore this new effort to open another frontier of offerings will probably not shift slabs. I'd get one though because I'm crazy for anything which enables me to stay away from my wife for longer durations of time.

6
4
Silver badge

Re: Most people don't need a powerful computer...

So what happens when amateurs want to edit their home movies? Or want to play halfway-decent games from the likes of Steam?

1
6
Silver badge

Re: Most people don't need a powerful computer...

Then they buy a proper laptop as the OP said most not every one.

7
0
Silver badge

Re: Most people don't need a powerful computer...

> So what happens when amateurs want to edit their home movies?

That's a software issue, not a hardware issue. The decoding of video is routinely offloaded to hardware decoders anyway (which are present and correct on Sanpdragon SoCs), and GPUs are used to apply effects. The rest of it is IO, which with solid state storage is plenty fast enough.

For editing HD video for YouTube on occasion, there'll be no problem in using ARM native software. Someone who more regularly edits 4K video isn't going to consider these machines anyway.

Ditto gamers - gamers pore over every spec of the machines they want to buy, with battery life barely making the list. They won't buy one of these by accident.

5
0
FIA

Re: Most people don't need a powerful computer...

very few people ever needed anything more than something like a P3 (about the same performance as ARM)

I think the ARM stuff might be more powerful than you give it credit for.

People are starting to put ARM in servers and back on the desktop, this will result in chips that aren't designed to be thermally/power constrained. This thing has several GHz cores and much more thermal headroom than a phone. It'll blow any P3 out of the water easily.

Some of the ARM CPUs out there are getting to be as powerful as some of the lower end x86 stuff, and that's before the market has caused chip designers to target the desktop/laptop explicitly.

4
0
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Most people don't need a powerful computer...

Bill? $600-800 for a tablet-with-a-keyboard?

Why not just buy an actual laptop with a real X86 processor in it, and run real Windows?

Until they killed them, Intel had a nice range of Atom-based chipsets that made nice Windows TWACs, that could run real Windows.

3
0
Bronze badge

Is it only battery life...

... that makes these different from other i5 based SSD 2 in 1 laptops? I can get very similar for a couple of hundred pounds less and the only thing that's different seems to be battery life. I'd also get better performance without the emulation. If all you want to do is a little browsing and word processing and youtube then one of the really really cheap convertibles would do the job and you'd save £500 - some of these have data too. I got an atom based Surface 3 for £250 that can do all that.

3
2
Silver badge

Re: Is it only battery life...

Yep, it's battery life - not only is ARM more efficient for native tasks, but the ARM SoC takes up less space than an x86 motherboard leaving more room for battery in these machines.

5
0

Overpriced

Between the high price of the machine, the typically high price of mobile data and the sluggish performance, it is difficult to see there being a large market. What does one of these systems get you that you could not get better with an iPad with a bluetooth keyboard or a secondhand laptop from ebay.

(For example a Lenovo Thinkpad X220 with I5, 8GB, 240 SSD, Win 7 Pro was £230 on the first ebay listing that I looked at.)

13
0
Silver badge

Re: Overpriced

"Between the high price of the machine, the typically high price of mobile data in the UK."

FTFY

Unlimited mobile data for reasonable tariff is the norm in many countries now.

I'm just surprised this has taken so long for everyone to get their acts together to produce such products.

4
6
Gold badge

Underestimation

I think you are underestimating the per-core performance of these ARMs. Comparable to a P3? Umm.... I've thrown Ubuntu onto my (Tegra K1-based) Chromebook, and per-core performance (it's a quad-core) is roughly between a Core 2 and an i5. This uses older 32-bit ARM cores, compared to the Snapdragon, I'd expect it to be faster. Honestly, I've done light video editiing, video encoding, photo editing, compiled software, and done android software development (in addition to lots of web browsing and video playback) with no complaints.

I'm glad these are coming out, so I can get one (probably used), strip Win10 the hell off it and put a nice ARM distro onto it.

6
6
jzl

Apple's next

This makes an ARM based Macbook an absolute certainty.

2
3
Silver badge

Re: Apple's next

Or possibly just the continued development of productivity application such as Adobe LightRoom for iPads.

Who knows? :)

OSX and its forebears have jumped architecture a few times; it's unthinkable that Apple haven't had OSX on ARM running internally for years.

0
0

What a scam! $600+ for this crap ? slow x86 emulators...please!

What a scam! $600+ for this crap ? slow x86 emulators...please!

More pathetic Microsoft crap with the awful Windows 10

6
14

And you can't install Chrome on 10 S. You'll have to get Pro for that.

To be fair, it's not as if it would kill Google to add Chrome to the Windows App store.

8
2
Silver badge

> To be fair, it's not as if it would kill Google to add Chrome to the Windows App store.

You appear to be expecting that Microsoft will allow competing products (browsers, office suites) into the App store.

4
0

Almost but then no

'You also have to get any new applications from Microsoft's store'

In the words of Mr Paisley, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!

SMH

12
1

Re: Almost but then no

..... let me go

Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

6
0
Silver badge

Imagine a netbook with a SIM card. Bingo

Not really though, is it? My personal definition of a netbook is something with a screen no bigger than about 10". 13" is "small laptop" territory which isn't to say that there isn't a market for these things (I remember when laptops came with built-in modems as standard) but that they don't quite fill that very-small-but-still-very-usable category the likes of the EeePC once created.

Or the Psion 5 :-)

M.

12
0
Silver badge

Re: Imagine a netbook with a SIM card. Bingo

And I remember when a netBook was a Psion machine!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_netBook

The EEEPC was well known, but Sony amongst others had been making small x86 Windows notebooks (and even weird things with half the keyboard on either side of the screen) for a few years before. I think it was the use of Linux to enable otherwise slow cheap hardware that initially led to Netbooks, until more RAM and newer CPUs made Windows less slow on them. Many weren't used for much more than web browsing, hence the article drawing the parallel.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Imagine a netbook with a SIM card. Bingo

"The EEEPC was well known"

Maybe more for the advertising than for the computer.

5
0
Bronze badge
Meh

Re: Imagine a netbook with a SIM card. Bingo

The old netbooks had two problems. Technically, they struggled to get seamless connectivity, they were an idea ahead of its time. But also Micro$aft protected its monopoly position by crushing out manufacture of what was at the time a lean Linux-only product.

It has taken the combined might of Apple and Google to lever apart the current cracks in its armour. M$ must join the fray or perish.

At the same time, as hardware advances and several generations of "leaner, faster (honest!)" Windows flowed by under the bridge, we are finally approaching a netbook ecology in which the monopoly is actually able join in.

Would have been nice to see even one actual useful innovation though.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: Imagine a netbook with a SIM card. Bingo

Also, after the initial joy of "Wow, a cute computer for only £200!" wore off, the ball ache of of doing anything through a 9" letterbox screen started to grate.

For that reason small cheap tablets (screen aspect less of an issue if you can rotate it to portrait to read a web page) and larger screened thin n' light laptops have largely replaced the netbook format.

2
2

I have native ARM Office running nicely on my Surface 2. Okay it's 2013 Office but the old Tegra 4 actually still copes well with ARM Windows 8 so I'm sure the Snapdragon will walk it. The x86 emulation is almost a negative for security - the older ARM devices find it hard to run x86 viruses making it an unusually secure Windows experience.

6
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017