Microsoft launched its new Surface Go device earlier this month with an Intel Pentium Gold processor inside. It’s been one of the main focus points for discussions around performance and mobility for this 10-inch Surface, and lots of people have wondered why Microsoft didn’t opt for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors and Windows on ARM. Paul Thurrott reports that Microsoft wanted to use an ARM processor for the Surface Go, but that Intel intervened.
Intel reportedly “petitioned Microsoft heavily” to use its Pentium Gold processors instead of ARM ones. It’s not clear why Microsoft didn’t push ahead with its ARM plans for Surface Go, but in my own experience the latest Snapdragon chips simply don’t have the performance and compatibility to match Intel on laptops just yet. Microsoft has been working hard to improve this though, despite Intel’s threats it would sue competitors like Qualcomm if they attempt to emulate Intel’s x86 instruction set architecture.
The chip world is in serious disarray – not only is ARM making inroads into traditional x86 strongholds, RISC-V is putting the thumb screws on ARM as well.
What we really need is for an ARM vendor besides Apple to push the envelope. If you look at benchmarks for the A11 it has better geekbench results than several Intel ultrabook variants. We just need Qualcomm or Samsung to stop exclusively targeting phones and really try to make a real laptop or desktop chip.