Qualcomm, Microsoft Debut Laptops Powered by Mobile Chips

Qualcomm just showcased Asustek Computer and HP laptops with mobile phone chips that allow their wireless connections to use battery power so sparingly that they can go for days between charges. That’s part of the chip titan’s strategy to break Intel’s dominance in the laptop market, where 90 percent ship with Intel chips. By using mobile chips, says Qualcomm, the company hopes to create a new kind of PC that represents a new category. Qualcomm aims to expand in this market through its purchase of NXP Semiconductors.

Bloomberg reports that Qualcomm’s head of its chip business Cristiano Amon said that, “we’re not trying to create a PC that basically is designed to compare with what the PC is today.” “What we’re thinking is how can we make the PC more like a smartphone,” he said.

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Qualcomm’s $47 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors is currently pending and “those efforts may struggle to move forward if Broadcom’s attempt to acquire Qualcomm succeeds.” Broadcom has offered $105 billion, but Qualcomm continues to resist the purchase.

By integrating mobile chips into laptops, “Qualcomm is seeking to address common pain points for computer users, including unreliable Wi-Fi connections, complicated log-ins and expensive data access at hotels and other public places.” According to Qualcomm, the laptops with its chips “could get more than 25 hours of normal use from one charge,” as compared to 7 hours in a test with AMD chips.

The Asus laptop, priced at $599, can also go 30 days on standby between charges, says chief executive Jerry Shen. The laptops will come loaded with Microsoft Windows, in that company’s “renewed attempt to get Windows into the mobile space traditionally served by tablets and phones.”

Wired reports that the new laptops — “the results of a years-long project with Microsoft to create PCs that look like Windows computers, but work more like high-end phones” — run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor. Because the 835 was built for mobile phones, it is small enough for “super-thin PCs.”

HP’s Envy X2 tablet and the Asus NovaGo are the two devices featuring that partnership. Qualcomm product manager for Snapdragon Miguel Nunes notes that an LTE-connected PC becomes even more feasible as 5G comes online. Bottom line, technology is blurring the line between devices, as Qualcomm and its partners prove.