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Microsoft taps Qualcomm and Intel for Surface

by on09 May 2014

Haswell rather than Bay Trail

Microsoft is expected to introduce a new Surface tablet on May 20. Although it managed to keep a lid on leaks and kept us guessing for months, it now appears that the Surface Mini will be powered by a Qualcomm SoC. This means Nvidia is out of at least one Surface tablet. Microsoft’s first and second generation Surface tablets based on ARM chips were powered by Nvidia silicon. The Mini is Qualcomm’s for the taking, although this is still not official.

Thanks to CNET we now know a bit more about Redmond’s x86 tablet plans. Many were hoping for a Bay Trail powered Surface Mini, with x86 Windows. This appears to be off the table, as the Mini will end up with an ARM chip and Windows RT 8.1. 

Intel will power an upcoming Surface tablet, but it won’t be the Mini, and it won’t have a Bay Trail SoC inside. According to CNET Microsoft will use a new power-optimized Haswell variant. This means Intel will again get the Surface Pro, while Qualcomm ends up with the Mini.

But where does this leave Nvidia? 

If Microsoft does another 10-inch ARM Surface, it might tap Nvidia and get some Tegra K1 parts. On the other hand, if decides to phase out the 10-incher in favour Surface Mini, Nvidia will be out of the game altogether. 

We still don’t know anything about Microsoft’s long-term plans, but the 10-inch Surface (RT) was never a big success and we wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft decides to ditch it this year, or next year for that matter.

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