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Report: MediaTek Working on Arm-Based Processor for Windows PCs

As Qualcomm’s exclusivity for Arm-powered processors for Windows PCs is reportedly coming to its end, other chipmakers are getting ready to offer their Arm-based system-on-chips for Windows computers. And, according to a new report from Reuters, MediaTek will be among the companies jumping into the Windows-on-Arm field, with plans to launch their first PC processor late next year.

MediaTek’s system-on-chip for Windows PCs will rely on Arm’s ‘ready-made designs,’ according to Reuters. Which in turn hints that MediaTek would be using Arm’s compute sub-system (CSS) for client PCs, a building block designed to significantly speed up development of SoCs.

With the vauge nature of the Reuters report, however, which version of Arm’s IP MediaTek might be using remains unclear, and the answer to that will largely hinge on timing. Arm refreshes its client cores and IP offerings yearly – typically announcing them to the public in May – with finished chips rolling out as early as later in the year. So depending on just how late in the year MediaTek is planning to launch their chip, the company has a large enough window to potentially use either the current 2024 client designs, or next year’s 2025 designs.

For reference, Arm’s 2024 CSS for client systems is quite powerful on its own. It includes two ultra-high-performance Arm Cortex-X925 cores (each with up to 3MB L2 cache and clock speeds over 3.60 GHz, supporting SVE and SVE2), four high-performance Cortex-A725 cores, two energy-efficient Cortex-A520 cores, and an Immortalis-G925 graphics processor. And, of course, MediaTek has the expertise to skip Arm’s CSS and build their own bespoke designs as well, if that’s what they’d prefer.

Overall, the latest client designs from Arm can accommodate up to 14 CPU cores – Arm intentionally leaves headroom for designs to be scaled-up for laptops – which would make for quite a formidable chip. But the PC SoC market has no shortage of capable contenders with their own designs; besides Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X processors, MediaTek would also be going up against the latest designs from Intel and AMD. All of whom are planning to make big plays for the mobile PC market in the next several months. So MediaTek will need to make a serious effort if their effort to jump into the PC SoC market are to succeed.

Since 2016, Microsoft has partnered with Qualcomm to bring Arm’s processor architecture, which is widely used in smartphones, to Windows PCs. Qualcomm has an exclusive agreement to supply these chips for the next several months (the exact timing remains unclear), after which other designers like MediaTek can enter the market. Qualcomm, for its part, has benefited greatly from collaborating with Microsoft, so it will be interesting to see if Microsoft extends a similar hand out to other Arm chip makers.

Ultimately, the market for Arm PC SoCs has the potential to get crowded quickly. According to previous reports from Reuters, both AMD and NVIDIA are also developing Arm-based chips for Windows. So if all of those projects come to fruition, there could potentially be several Arm SoCs available to PC manufacturers around the same time. All of which would be a massive change from the past 20 years of the PC, where Intel and AMD have been the entire market.

Both MediaTek and Microsoft have declined to comment on the ongoing developments, the news agency states.