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HomeNewsA new native Chrome browser for Arm-based PCs points to something even...

A new native Chrome browser for Arm-based PCs points to something even bigger

Mar 27, 2024 12:28 PM IST

Qualcomm’s next PC chip arrives later in 2024, and must balance performance and battery life, as Windows PCs and Chromebooks need to keep pace with Apple’s M-series chips

Google is finally releasing a Chrome web browser for Windows PCs running the Arm-based processors. This is the chip architecture that is used extensively by Qualcomm in particular, and also Microsoft, for portable computing devices that hope to find a balance between performance and frugality of battery consumption. The final release of Google’s Chrome for Arm PCs comes around two months after a test build first arrived on Chrome’s Canary (it’s a very early test build stage) channel. However, beyond the fact that Arm PCs will have a better web browser available now, there is a bigger development brewing – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite X chips are set to be available for PC makers, later this year.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite X chips are set to be available for PC makers, later this year. (Official image)
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite X chips are set to be available for PC makers, later this year. (Official image)

The availability of Google Chrome is good news for a still limited, but growing demographic, of computing devices that are using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen2, Snapdragon 7c Gen2 and Snapdragon 7c chips, for example, including the Xiaomi Book S, Lenovo ThinkPad X13s and Acer Chromebook 511. Or even Microsoft’s SQ3 processor for some of their Surface computing devices.

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“With this new release, Chrome will be fully optimized for your PC’s hardware and operating system to make browsing the web faster and smoother,” says Mark Chang, Group Product Manager for Chrome, in a statement. Google is working closely with Qualcomm. There will be parity for the Arm version of Chrome, with the browser that’s available for the 64-bit x86 architecture chips such as Intel’s Core family of chips, in terms of functionality. This is expected to include some experimental generative AI features, as well as the complete range of extensions.

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With this development comes the confirmation that Qualcomm’s next big update, the Snapdragon X Elite, debuts in mid-2024. This is important not just for Qualcomm, but for the hopes of the Windows PC ecosystem, to keep pace with Apple’s silicon efforts with the M-series. Apple M3 chips, now arriving in newer Mac computing devices, signify the third generation of Apple silicon. It is something Cristiano Amon, President and CEO, Qualcomm Inc references, understanding the importance of finding a competitive response.

“The PC industry is on the cusp of an inflection point, and as we enter the era of the AI PC, we can’t wait to see Chrome shine by taking advantage of the powerful Snapdragon X Elite system,” he says. Crucial to that will be well optimised apps, which makes Qualcomm and Google’s partnership crucial. Results may be showing. Both companies say that in early tests on the upcoming Snapdragon X Elite reference devices, the just released version of the Chrome web browser showed “dramatic performance improvement”, when benchmarked with the Speedometer 2.1 test.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite chip is expected to be built with the 4-nanometer architecture, a 12-core Qualcomm Oryon™ CPU, Adreno graphics and the Qualcomm Hexagon NPU or neural processing unit capable of running generative AI LLM models over 13-billion parameters on-device. Qualcomm needs this to be close to the Apple M3 chips, and indeed the M2 series too, in terms of balancing performance and battery frugality. The Snapdragon X Elite also integrates 5G for PC makers to enable on the devices they sell, something Apple doesn’t yet do with the M-series and MacBooks.

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    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.

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