Qualcomm’s next-gen Nuvia processor claims to have 12 cores and ‘extremely promising’ performance

What do you want to know

  • Qualcomm acquired Nuvia in early 2021, along with silicon developers Apple.
  • Qualcomm expects its next-generation laptop and desktop processors to arrive in 2024.
  • A new report claims that Qualcomm has a 12-core desktop chip with a discrete GPU with a “memory/cache configuration similar to [Apple’s] M1” processor.

Windows on ARM has had an exceptionally long road since it was first announced in 2016 (even earlier if you count Surface RT). Qualcomm, Microsoft and software vendors have slowly improved the ecosystem, but it still pales in comparison to Apple’s ARM M1 and newer processors.

A new report by Kuba Wojciechowski, alias @Za-Raczke on Twitter, claims that one of Qualcomm’s next-generation Nuvia “Phoenix” designs, for 2024, targets desktop use. Dubbed “Hamoa”, the chip is said to feature 12 “house” cores made up of eight performance cores and four efficiency cores.

(Qualcomm acquired Nuvia in January 2021. The company was made up of former Apple engineers, including those who designed Apple’s A-series chips, which became the M-series for laptops and desktops.)

Interestingly, the memory and cache configuration for “Hamoa” would also be similar to Apple’s M1.

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By comparison, the Apple M1 has four high-performance “Firestorm” cores and four power-efficient “Icestorm” cores, in a similar big.LITTLE ARM design (something Intel now uses in 12th and 13th generation processors).

Oddly enough, Wojciechowski, who is known for his upcoming tech leaks, claims that the processor is a “desktop chip”, which is a bit unusual as we expect Qualcomm to hit laptops and mobiles in first. Some leeway is warranted here, though it’s certainly possible to push ARM-like chips into desktops, like Microsoft’s new one. Windows 2023 SDK (“Project Volterra”), and Apple latest iMacs.

“Hamoa” is supposed to feature a discrete GPU (dGPU), which isn’t strange since ARM processors aren’t currently compatible with those from NVIDIA or AMD. That said, we don’t know the details of Nuvia’s designs, including whether it supports Thunderbolt 4 and external GPUs, so anything is possible.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro series could benefit from Qualcomm’s alleged “Hamoa” processor. (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

But, according to Wojciechowski’s source, the new chip’s performance is “extremely promising”, so take that as you will as there’s no comparison made to the current-gen Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 chips (as found in Microsoft’s new chips). Surface Pro 9 with 5G) or Apple’s M2 series, not to mention Intel’s 12th generation mobile chips.

We also don’t know the manufacturing process, power consumption levels, driver support and software technology behind the chips.

Recent news has Qualcomm claiming many “design wins” from OEM partners due to the great interest. Qualcomm also takes care of a trial of Arm Ltd., which claims Qualcomm violated licensing agreements and trademark infringement with its Nuvia designs.

Qualcomm is expected to hold its annual Snapdragon Summit from November 15-17, so perhaps the company will give some details on the status of its next-gen Nuvia chip designs and any performance expectations.

Thanks for the tip, Dennis Herbers!

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