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Qualcomm’s big bet on ‘Always Connected’ Windows PCs: Should Intel be worried?

Qualcomm has found support from companies such as AMD, Microsoft, HP and ASUS. Should Intel hit the panic button?

tech Updated: Dec 06, 2017 18:52 IST
Kul Bhushan
Here’s everything you need to know about ‘Always Connected’ Windows PCs and Gigabit LTE.
Here’s everything you need to know about ‘Always Connected’ Windows PCs and Gigabit LTE.(Reuters)

After dominating the mobile platform for several years, chipset company Qualcomm has now set its eyes upon the PC segment. Qualcomm’s entry into the segment poses a threat to segment leader Intel. Ironically, Intel, which has been synonymous with PC chipsets, failed to capitalise on emergence of the mobile era, eventually ceased making mobile chipsets altogether.

Qualcomm earlier this year announced that it had partnered with OEMs such as ASUS, HP and Lenovo to launch Snapdragon 835 SoC-powered Windows 10 PCs.

At the company’s annual Snapdragon Technology Summit in Hawaii on Tuesday, the first wave of Snapdragon-powered PCs, HP ENVY x2 and 2-in-1 convertible ASUS NovaGo, were unveiled. ASUS’ 2-in-1 convertible will be commercially available early next year.

Along with an evident support from OEMs, Qualcomm also surprised everyone with its partnership with AMD, another popular chipset company. The two companies are working on a new series of “Always Connected” PCs running AMD’s Ryzen mobile platform that will house Snapdragon LTE modems. The alliance will help AMD achieve gigabit LTE speeds.

Essentially, Qualcomm-powered PCs will come with a SIM slot to leverage faster telecom networks. The PCs showcased at the event are being touted to deliver longer battery life and posses biometric features such as fingerprint scanners.

Always connected are the next-generation LTE network is ultra fast, allowing one to download a full-length film in less than a minute.

Qualcomm’s big bet on “Always Connected” PCs is not without reason. The technology ensures a device isn’t dependent on Wi-Fi connectivity for fast browsing speeds. Instead, a built-in LTE modem enables access to faster network on the go. Qualcomm on its website points out that Gigabit LTE can achieve speeds up to 1Gbps, more than 1,000Mbps – a proposition that is going to attract many new customers.

It also seems like a natural upgradation to existing networks as more and more consumers move to higher resolution multimedia content, downloads and uploads, and newer content format such as 3D and Virtual Reality.

Gigabit LTE can also be considered as a precursor to the next-generation telecom network, 5G, which is still in the developmental stage. Gigabit LTE essentially relies on a combination of technologies such as 4X4 Multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) for picking signals and carrier aggregation. Already a slew of phones such as HTC U11 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium are Gigabit LTE compatible.

Intel, however, has already been working on Gigabit LTE modems. Interestingly, the company has also responded to Qualcomm’s new bet on ‘Always Connected’ series.

“[Intel] has been powering always-connected PCs since their inception. Today, there are more than 30 business- and consumer-oriented Intel-based always-connected PCs available, offering the leading performance, a variety of connectivity options and price points, long battery life and thin and light form factor design,” the company told AnandTech, a technology website.

The company has a XMM 7560 modem that delivers gigabit speeds. Intel is betting heavily on 5G network, the company may eye Apple as its next big vendor as the Cupertino-based company and Qualcomm are locked in a bitter legal battle. This could certainly open new avenues of opportunity for Intel in the mobile segment.