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Qualcomm’s Apple M1/M2 rival is finally on the way: Oryon

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Qualcomm’s next-generation PC chips will be launched in 2024 and are set to belatedly bring the fight to Apple in terms of the performance of ARM-based PC chips. The CPU itself is codenamed Oryon, but won’t even be in the hands of hardware makers until next year.

Of course, we could be looking at Apple having launched an M3 by 2024, let alone having filled out the M2 range with more options such an M2 Pro and M2 Max in 2023.

The Qualcomm chip is based on the technology (and people) it acquired by buying chip startup Nuvia, which was in turn founded by engineers who worked on projects including the original Apple Silicon chips.

Qualcomm’s Gerard Williams – formerly of Nuvia – said on stage at the company’s Snapdragon Summit event that the new CPU core is part of the company’s one-architecture strategy so it will appear in products across mobile, computing, XR and more. “We’ve designed a new, custom CPU core to unleash a new level of performance,” says Williams. “This groundbreaking technology will usher in a new class of incredibly powerful and efficient devices.”

Qualcomm’s Apple M1/M2 rival is finally on the way: Oryon

Qualcomm’s Windows on Snapdragon work has been improving, but still lags behind rivals on out-and-out performance, while app compatibility still remains a serious issue with Windows on Snapdragon.

We already knew this platform was on the way, but we also have some specifics thanks to leaks that the actual next-gen Windows on Snapdragon platform is codenamed Hamoa and is based on Nuvia’s original Phoenix design. That chip had a similar design and configuration to the Apple M1 plus with support for dedicated graphics. The rumors also suggest that the chip will have 12 cores including 8 performance and four efficiency cores.

One company that isn’t too happy about the work going on here is ARM who has started to sue Qualcomm over its adaptation of Nuvia designs. Quite bizarre, considering all these chips are based on ARM designs in some way.

Qualcomm Orion

Kedar Kondap, head of product management for compute products at Qualcomm would only say that “Oryon will elevate our performance, CPU performance and that it will get used across multiple businesses within Qualcomm. So beyond that we’re not commenting at this time, much more on which is the platform that will use the right CPU will not come.

“We’ve talked about the fact that we’re sampling our platform by the end of this year and we will have an inflection point in 2024… you will see it launch at scale.”

Qualcomm’s spokesperson wouldn’t be drawn on any other details: “the only thing that I can share is that the CPU was started by nuvia engineers at Nuvia. Oryon is a custom CPU now finished and completed by Qualcomm. The employees are all Qualcomm employees.”

Qualcomm has also been talking a lot about its on device AI, which it also spoke about during the recent launch of the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with the Qualcomm-designed SQ3 processor. Qualcomm thinks that AI “is going to be significant” in terms of the potential advantage his chips have compared to rivals.

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