Skip to main content

Can ARM chips drive innovation in the PC industry?

The PC market is currently dominated by Intel and AMD. Could the disruptive potential of ARM-based silicon lead to innovation? In an interview at CES 2021, ARM chief executive Simon Segars offered hope for the future of the PC industry — a market his company has long sight to break into.

“What we’re starting to see now is real innovation going on in a market where there hasn’t been a huge amount of innovation,” said Segars at CES 2021, as picked up by CNET. “Any time there’s a discontinuity that makes people question how we’re doing this, that injects energy into innovation.”

ARM is a British semiconductor and software design company that licenses and makes the technology for the ARM-based chipsets and software in PCs. CNET reports that ARM has been pouring new engineering resources into PC chipset designs.

It will be an uphill battle for ARM to achieve a further breakthrough in the PC industry, however. ARM-based chips are popular in cell phones, as well as routers and elsewhere, but the PC space has been a struggle despite the benefits of always-on connectivity, 4G and 5G connections, and all-day battery life brought by ARM’s architecture.

Microsoft actually introduced a new custom ARM-based processor, the Microsoft SQ2, in the refreshed Surface Pro X, but many have noted performance issues within Windows 10 due to app emulation. Microsoft worked with Qualcomm on the chip, but rumor has it that the company is also working on its own ARM chip to power servers and future devices.

Microsoft’s partners also announced new ARM-based PCs, including the HP Folio and the IdeaPad 5G. These Snapdragon 8cX PCs are designed with help from Qualcomm, which holds a small share in the PC market.

While extolling the benefits of ARM-based chips, Segars mentioned that while it is true that the current ARM-based PC industry involves a mix of different manufacturers and ecosystems, there could be hope. He emphasizes that it’s performance and energy efficiency that matters.

Updated at 9:07 pm January 13, 2021: Clarified comments throughout from Segars, who was speaking about the general PC industry.

Editors' Recommendations

Arif Bacchus
Arif Bacchus is a native New Yorker and a fan of all things technology. Arif works as a freelance writer at Digital Trends…
I’m still waiting for Apple to fix the Mac Mini’s major problem
The M1-powered Mac Mini.

As a desktop machine, my M1 Mac Mini is absolutely great. It’s small enough to pop into a backpack, but capable enough to handle my workloads with ease. Yet there’s one problem nagging at me that makes me worried for the future of the Mac Mini line -- and it likely won’t be fixed any time soon.

That’s because, while the Mac Mini is ideal for most of my work, there are times when I wish it had a bit more power. That doesn’t come up often -- it’s mainly when I’m playing and reviewing Mac games. I’ll often have to turn the settings down lower than I’d like, which is perhaps unsurprising given that the M1’s integrated graphics were part of Apple’s first stab at its own desktop chip.

Read more
Apple’s M2 Max chip may bring next-level performance to the MacBook Pro
An Apple M2 chip on a stylized gradient background.

Apple's M2 Max chip is not out yet, but some benchmarks of it already are. One such test was leaked today, showing off the performance of the new processor.

According to these scores, we might see a decent performance boost in the future MacBook Pros that will likely come with the M2 Max chip. Of course, things can still improve.

Read more
MacBook Pro 14 vs. MacBook Pro 13: M2 for battery, 14-inch for performance
A MacBook Pro M2 sits on a wooden table with a nice bokeh background.

The 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro and 14-inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro are two of the most desirable, impressive laptops you can buy in 2022, but how do you pick between them? One might have a newer CPU, but they both have excellent battery life, top-notch build quality, and beautiful designs.

Here's what you need to know about the two MacBook Pro models before you buy.

Read more