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Arm, NPUs, and Lunar Lake

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Mar 7, 2008
Lots of noise in the last day or so about Qualcomm's Snapdragon X series CPUs with many announcements of "Copilot+ PC" (Windows on Arm) thin/light laptops. Good perf/W, long battery life, and NPU enabled AI stuff seems to be the push. Bit lacking on details but that'll come in due course. Obviously targeted at a particular niche, so should be viewed as such.

Don't write off x86 yet! Intel's impending Lunar Lake CPUs are claimed to be the most efficient x86 CPUs so far. They're looking to play in a similar area: low power mobile devices, so don't try to extrapolate it to desktop. Both P and E cores get a generational update compared to Meteor Lake. AMD were first to bring NPUs to consumer space and I'm sure they'll continue to iterate there.

Once product gets into reviewer hands, it'll be interesting to see Snapdragon X go up against Apple M3/M4, as well as AMD/Intel offerings. Mainly as it is the latest release I'd expect it to do well vs x86, but the real test will be when more targeted x86 offerings in the space come out.

I'm wondering what the impacts may be to x86 as a whole looking forward. In our enthusiast space we're more interesting in higher performance than absolute efficiency. Also Windows gaming is likely not a serious option for these Arm devices.

There was a comment that at MS' event, Qualcomm, AMD and Intel were (virtually) present, but Nvidia were absent. If you think about NV offerings, this makes sense if they're not currently playing in the low power laptop space. Arguably they could come up with an Arm core of their own to pair with their GPU tech, but this is probably not a short focus for them outside of whatever might go into Nintendo Switch 2.
But doesn't most home systems use x64? Now I know some of the programs I run are x86.In the long run are the x86 going to be the norm let's say 5 to 10 years from now? It also says that there GPUS are delayed.
x86 is used as a term for the general instruction set, of which x64 is a part. Some people have made noises about why x86 is dying, but then you get industry giants like Jim Keller essentially saying ISA doesn't matter much in a perf/W way. You can have relative good or bad CPUs with any ISA. In recent years Arm's possible advantage is driven in large part by Apple, and their use of leading edge process node where both AMD and Intel are behind.

The question I'm asking is that if this latest attempt of Windows on Arm takes off, what happens elsewhere up the stack? It does feel different this time around compared to Microsoft's previous attempt. It is still early days and we do need to understand where the performance sits in the real world, and if there are other limitations to this route.