Qualcomm’s Snapdragon to take on Intel’s Ultrabooks

Qualcomm is preparing to take on Intel’s x86-based Ultrabooks with Snapdragon-powered laptops that are even thinner and lighter than Apple’s popular MacBook Air.

“We think much lighter than what Intel calls an Ultrabook,” Qualcomm VP Rob Chandhok recently told IDG News. 

According to Chandhok, the lines between high-end smartphones and other mobile devices are starting to blur as ARM-based chips like the Snapdragon increase in terms of both performance and capabilities.

For example, says Chandhok, the quad-core S4 chips will facilitate the design of smaller laptops with high-resolution screens, longer battery life and always-on connectivity. 

Chandhok also emphasized that a Snapdragon chip with four CPU cores and multiple graphics cores will make a real difference for Windows 8 devices, especially for more demanding apps like games.

Indeed, Windows 8 is capable of improving application performance by executing programs in parallel across multiple cores – and Qualcomm is currently coding compilers to parallelize program execution for more common apps like browsers. 

“There will be maturation on the software… In this day and age, the instruction set [really does] matter,” Chandhok added.

As Nicole Scott of Netbook News notes, this isn’t the first time Qualcomm tried to go head to head with Intel, as Qualcomm unsuccessfully attempted to push an ultrathin ARM-based laptop dubbed the “Smartbook” way back in 2009.

Of course, times have changed, and ARM based chips are currently more than capable of running high-end, demanding apps.

However, it remains unclear ARM-powered laptops running Windows 8 or Android will seriously threaten Intel’s x86 mobile market share. 

Price and battery life are undoubtedly two of the most important factors for consumers, so we’ll just have to wait and see what ARM-powered devices hit the market this holiday season – and if they successfully appeal to mainstream buyers.