Intel's PC stranglehold could face serious challenge from Nvidia, AMD and Qualcomm

Intel's PC stranglehold could face serious challenge from Nvidia, AMD and Qualcomm

Nvidia and AMD have reportedly been developing Arm-based CPUs that would run Microsoft’s Windows, while Qualcomm debuts superfast Snapdragon X Elite chips.

Credit: Fancycrave

Intel, long the dominant supplier of chips for Windows PCs, could soon see its stranglehold on the market threatened by Arm-based CPUs from three major semiconductor makers — Nvidia, AMD, and Qualcomm.

Nvidia, whose graphics processing units (GPUs) are the go-to chips for AI workloads, is now reportedly designing central processing units (CPUs) for PCs in what could be seen as an effort to challenge Intel’s dominance of the personal computing chip market. Intel had 80.6 per cent of the desktop PC CPU share as of the second quarter of this year, according to IDC.

Nvidia is using technology from Arm to design chips that would run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system, Reuters reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

Anonymous sources told the news outlet that AMD is also developing plans to make chips for PCs using Arm technology. It was reported that Arm chips from both manufacturers could be available as soon as 2025.

Nvidia declined to comment on the report. AMD did not respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft looks to Intel's alternatives

The reported developments, however, look to be part of a Microsoft plan to help manufacturers develop Arm-based processors for Windows PCs, mimicking a move by Apple that saw the company almost double its share of the PC market when it released its own Arm-based chips for Mac computers three years ago.

Apple’s custom chip has led Mac computers to offer improved battery life and faster performance than ever before, in addition to efficient AI processing power.

Currently, Microsoft holds an exclusivity agreement for Arm-based chips for Windows machines with Qualcomm, but that deal is set to end next year, leading the tech giant to consider options, Reuters reported, particularly as the company doubles down on its AI efforts via tools like Copilot.

However, the unveiling of Qualcomm’s latest chip offering at yesterday’s Snapdragon Summit could complicate matters further, with the manufacturer claiming its Snapdragon X Elite processor— due out next year — will offer twice the performance speed of some of the most popular chips from Intel and AMD. But processing power alone won’t be enough for Qualcomm to topple the current PC market leaders, said Geoff Blaber, CEO at analyst firm CCS Insight, who noted that the entrenched position of Intel means Qualcomm must deliver a highly differentiated experience in tandem with partner support and a significant investment in channel marketing.

“Qualcomm has a long way to go in the PC market but it has focus and is building its understanding of what success demands,” he said. “The launch of the Snapdragon X Elite platform is an important step but silicon performance is just one of many ingredients necessary for Qualcomm to really penetrate the market,” he said.

Another hurdle for Arm-based chips is that most Windows applications were built specifically to run on the Intel x86 chip architecture, which AMD has also used up until now. Ensuring that popular applications run efficiently on Arm-based chips will likely prove to be a challenge for manufacturers.

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