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HP, Asus announce first Windows 10 ARM PCs
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-05 20:19:56

HP and Asus have announced the first Windows 10 PCs running on ARM - Snapdragon 835 - and they're boasting about instant-on, 22 hour battery life, and gigabit LTE. These machines run full Windows 10 - so not some crippled Windows RT nonsense - and support 32bit x86 applications. Microsoft hasn't unveiled a whole lot just yet about their x86-on-ARM emulation, but Ars did compile some information:

The emulator runs in a just-in-time basis, converting blocks of x86 code to equivalent blocks of ARM code. This conversion is cached both in memory (so each given part of a program only has to be translated once per run) and on disk (so subsequent uses of the program should be faster, as they can skip the translation). Moreover, system libraries - the various DLLs that applications load to make use of operating system feature - are all native ARM code, including the libraries loaded by x86 programs. Calling them "Compiled Hybrid Portable Executables" (or "chippie" for short), these libraries are ARM native code, compiled in such a way as to let them respond to x86 function calls.

While processor-intensive applications are liable to suffer a significant performance hit from this emulation - Photoshop will work in the emulator, but it won't be very fast - applications that spend a substantial amount of time waiting around for the user - such as Word - should perform with adequate performance. As one might expect, this emulation isn't available in the kernel, so x86 device drivers won't work on these systems. It's also exclusively 32-bit; software that's available only in a 64-bit x86 version won't be compatible.

I'm very curious about the eventual performance figures for this emulation, since the idea of running my garbage Win32 translation management software on a fast, energy-efficient laptop and external monitor seem quite appealing to me.

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This is awesome
By Morgan on 2017-12-05 20:40:08
I've been waiting for this for a very long time. Reservations about running a Microsoft OS aside, I'm excited to see how well Windows 10 will perform and what kind of crazy portable computers will come out of this. Maybe we'll finally get a proper full Windows tablet/convertible that ticks all the right boxes.

This could be the moment Intel starts to lose its stranglehold on the mainstream computing market. Combined with Qualcomm's performance in the server market[1], they should be shaking in their boots right now.

[1] https://rwmj.wordpress.com/2017/1...
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Lack of touch apps
By Square on 2017-12-05 20:42:13
I have a few windows 10 based tablets. The problem isn't battery life. It's that very few windows apps work well with touch. I have a 2-1 laptop that gets 10 hours of battery but I rarely use it in tablet mode as nothing I want to use on a windows machine works well with touch. Ether the icons in the app or too small or the app doesn't work the same way as it does with android. For example in chrome on android if you touch a bunch of links close together it zooms in to let you select what link. that function appears to be missing in the windows version of chrome

Edited 2017-12-05 20:43 UTC
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RE: This is awesome
By viton on 2017-12-05 20:52:20
> This could be the moment Intel starts to lose its stranglehold on the mainstream computing market.
Intel is losing the tech process race to Samsung and TSMC. Recent roadmap leak suggests they abandoned new 10nm parts and will try to sell yet another refresh of
14nm Skylake core.
It would be a perfect time to gain market for ARM, but the window of opportunity will close soon.

Edited 2017-12-05 20:54 UTC
Permalink - Score: 3
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Comment by smashIt
By smashIt on 2017-12-05 20:57:39
1996 called and wants its FX!32 back.
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Is it crippled?
By Alfman on 2017-12-05 21:19:57
Thom Holwerda,

> HP and Asus have announced the first Windows 10 PCs running on ARM - Snapdragon 835 - and they're boasting about instant-on, 22 hour battery life, and gigabit LTE. These machines run full Windows 10 - so not some crippled Windows RT nonsense - and support 32bit x86 applications. Microsoft hasn't unveiled a whole lot just yet about their x86-on-ARM emulation, but Ars did compile some information:


Given that it only runs 32bit code, it seems at least somewhat crippled for that reason. But Another thing that was crippled with WinRT was the UEFI bootloader, which microsoft's licensing terms explicitly prohibited manufacturers from allowing owners to install third party secure boot keys (ie for dual booting).

I've honestly been eagerly awaiting ARM PCs for a very long time, but my biggest fear was that they would arrive and be more restricted than the x86 PCs they'd be replacing. Does anyone know if microsoft is banning alternative operating systems on these new ARM PCs that are certified to run windows 10? If so, it'll be a tragedy for ARM desktop computing :(

ARM offers much needed competition, but if the ARM PCs that show up on the market end up robbing us of the choice of operating systems, then IMHO we'd be loosing just as much as we've gained.
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RE: Is it crippled?
By dionicio on 2017-12-05 22:15:00
Windows 10S, Alfman. This is about stronghold.

Hardware talks lots about stronghold, also. This is bridge tech. To carry market the other side of the pond. Don't think will see 64b version, ever.

Microsoft will build from here up. System DLLs already native, just as example.

On differing from past efforts, this one could actually deliver.
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RE: Is it crippled?
By viton on 2017-12-05 22:32:50
> Given that it only runs 32bit code, it seems at least somewhat crippled for that reason.
And "that reason" is a performance.

If so, it'll be a tragedy for ARM desktop computing :(
How so? These are laptops* and tablets*, not a desktop systems :)
If you want proper ARM desktop, you can grab one of ARM ATX boards (ok, there is only one board <$500) and build it yourself.

Too bad, business people from companies like Cavium, Qualcomm (or even ARM) who are trying to push ARM servers still don't realize the demand of ARM workstations, even after being pointed to this by numerous of high-profile folks including Linus.

At least in a year 2017 linaro started to think about this.
http://connect.linaro.org/resour...

That's a pity, because even low-power versions of 24 core Centriq or 28 core TX2 can humiliate most of Intel/AMD HEDT SKUs.

* There is no doubt these devices will be as restricted and locked as possible.

Edited 2017-12-05 22:39 UTC
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RE: Comment by smashIt
By bert64 on 2017-12-05 22:40:21
Indeed, it's basically a port of FX!32 to ARM, only without the performance...
ARM running native code is significantly slower than current model x86, under emulation they will be far behind. Alpha on the other hand was significantly faster than x86 in its heyday.
The extra overhead of the emulation won't help battery life either, and will increase memory usage. Again not problems Alpha systems really had to content with.

ARM laptops running Linux would do 99% of what x86 laptops running linux do while providing improved power efficiently, ARM laptops running windows will be significantly worse than x86 laptops.

People will buy ARM laptops on the promise of long battery life and compatibility with windows software, but will find the software runs slowly and the battery life tanks if you actually try to do anything... Word will spread, and ARM laptops will be seen as a shit product.

Edited 2017-12-05 22:43 UTC
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RE[2]: Comment by smashIt
By viton on 2017-12-05 23:03:24
> Indeed, it's basically a port of FX!32 to ARM, only without the performance
SD835 with x86 emulation is roughly equivalent of quad core Atom processor (Pentium N).

> ARM laptops running windows will be significantly worse than x86 laptops.
These laptops are not for heavy load. SD835 perf is good enough for typical use case.
I have a few ARM/Linux systems and these systems are 2-4 times slower than SD835. However they can handle most of my tasks.

Edited 2017-12-05 23:05 UTC
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RE[2]: Comment by smashIt
By areilly on 2017-12-05 23:15:35
It will be interesting to see. I've used two systems that were based on dynamic translation, a Fuji Transmeta-based laptop long, long ago and a Nexus 9 tablet more recently. Both had their advantages and disadvantages, but both worked well for what I wanted at the time. JIT compiler tech has had a _lot_ of work done on it since FX!32, not necessarily for x86 so much, but Dalvik in Android, and Javascript/WebAssembly in everyone's browser. The fact that this thing (unlike all of the others I mentioned) will be caching translations to disk/flash suggests that everything will be effectively "native" shortly after install. While ARMs don't (yet) clock at the same rate as the desktop x86 parts, they do get about as much done per clock. They'll be fairly competitive with similarly clocked laptop CPUs.
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