Something to look forward to: Microsoft's Surface line owes a big part of its success to Intel's CPUs, but the company has been playing with competing silicon in its labs, possibly paving the way for an AMD-powered Surface laptop. The Redmond giant's longstanding relationship with Intel is said to be less than rosy due to the Skylake blunder and is looking to diversify the chips it'll use in upcoming devices.
Microsoft is expected to unveil new Surface devices later this year and into the next, and while many enthusiasts are looking forward to see the mysterious dual-screen Surface that’s been passed around internally, the most interesting development might come in the form of an AMD-powered Surface laptop, with similar looks to the previous generation design and a USB-C port instead of the proprietary Surface Connect.
In a new report on Petri, long-time Microsoft watcher Brad Sams noted that a 12nm AMD Picasso SoC is one of the options explored by the company to reduce its reliance on Intel chips.
AMD’s APUs already power Xbox, so a closer partnership that extends to laptops is something enthusiasts have been dreaming about for years – a Zen+ CPU core coupled with a Vega GPU at the heart of the upcoming Surface laptop.
Sams says the Redmond giant is also cooking up custom ARM-based silicon with Qualcomm for its upcoming Surface Pro code-named Excalibur, possibly a derivative of the powerful Snapdragon 8cx we’ve seen in extensive benchmarks against Intel’s i5 8250u. Judging by the official info on the 8cx Compute Platform, this could be a boon for enterprises looking for 5G, full hypervisor support, and a host of security features.
This doesn't mean Microsoft is giving up on Intel for larger members of the Surface family, but seeing as the company is looking at both Qualcomm and AMD, the tech giant will have to work hard to keep up in the consumer market, and a recent internal memo proves it’s starting to take AMD’s recent innovations more seriously.