This move would be a major blow for Intel – and a big win for its competitor AMD. For the past five years, all of Microsoft’s Surface products have run on Intel processors, but as Brad Sams – noted Microsoft expert at Petri.com – alleges, insiders at Microsoft have described the company’s relationship with Intel as “being on shaky ground,” leading to the company looking to “diversify away from a purely-Intel lineup” for its next-generation Surface products.
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According to Sams, Microsoft is experimenting with using AMD and ARM chips, with prototype devices having already been made.
A prototype Surface Laptop is apparently using a 12nm AMD Picasso SoC (system on chip). Meanwhile, a new Surface Pro prototype is said to be using a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
It seems that Microsoft is working with Qualcomm to build its own ARM chip, code-named Excalibur, that is said to work better on Windows 10.
This sounds similar to the situation with Apple, which is said to be dropping Intel in favor of its own ARM-based processors.
The rumors – and remember, these are just rumors at the moment – do make sense. Microsoft has established relationships with both AMD and Qualcomm – the former making the chips for the upcoming Xbox Scarlett console, the latter working with Microsoft on Windows on Snapdragon devices – so it’s not unthinkable that the company would be looking to work with them on new Surface devices.
Falling out with Intel
The fact that Microsoft is apparently looking at other CPU makers after falling out with Intel is something we suggested might happen after a string of bad news about Intel.
According to Sams, the reason why Microsoft and Intel’s relationship has soured is because of disappointing product releases by Intel.
As Sams states, “With Skylake, Microsoft got burned by the immaturity between Windows and the chips which resulted in faulty hardware and a serious black eye to the brand’s high-quality reputation.” Skylake is the name for Intel’s sixth-generation Core processors, and while they generally performed well, they were also victim to high-profile security flaws, including Meltdown and Spectre.
However, Microsoft won’t be completely dropping Intel from its devices, according to Sams. Intel’s brand power is still strong enough to shift products, and it looks like there will be an Intel-powered Surface Pro 7, as well as new versions of the Surface Book and as well.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.