According to Reuters, Nvidia’s supremacy in the artificial intelligence computing chip market is now extending into the area of personal computers, which has traditionally been dominated by Intel. Nvidia has begun development of central processing units (CPUs) capable of running Microsoft’s Windows operating system, including Arm technology, in a relatively quiet step. This strategic shift is consistent with Microsoft’s attempt to allow chip manufacturers to produce Arm-based processors for Windows PCs, essentially challenging Apple, which has greatly expanded its market share with in-house Arm-based chips for Mac computers over the last three years.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is also planning to manufacture PC processors based on Arm technology. According to sources, Nvidia and AMD could release these PC chips as early as 2025, joining Qualcomm, which has been developing Arm-based chips for laptops since 2016. Qualcomm wants to share further details about a flagship processor developed by a team of ex-Apple engineers at a forthcoming presentation attended by Microsoft officials.
Following the Reuters article on Nvidia’s intentions, Nvidia’s stock jumped 3.84%, while Intel’s stock fell 3.06% and Arm’s stock rose 4.89%. These efforts by Nvidia, AMD, and Qualcomm have the potential to shake up the PC business, which Intel has long dominated but is now seeing increasing competition from Apple. Apple’s proprietary CPUs have given Mac laptops enhanced battery life and performance that rivals more energy-intensive alternatives. Microsoft has seen Apple’s efficiency with Arm-based CPUs, notably in AI processing, and hopes to match it.
Microsoft enlisted Qualcomm in 2016 to spearhead the work to migrate the Windows operating system to the underlying Arm processor architecture, which has typically been utilized in devices with smaller batteries. According to sources close to Microsoft, Qualcomm has been granted exclusive rights to build Windows-compatible chips until 2024. According to people acquainted with the subject, once this exclusivity agreement ends, Microsoft has pushed other competitors to enter the market.
Recognizing the future relevance of AI, Microsoft has asked chipmakers to embed advanced AI features into the CPUs they are developing. AI-enhanced software, such as Copilot, is envisioned by Microsoft as being an inherent part of the Windows experience. To realize this ambition, Nvidia, AMD, and other companies’ upcoming CPUs will need to allocate on-chip resources for AI processing.
However, if Microsoft and these chip manufacturers proceed with their plans, there is no assurance of success. Software developers have spent decades and significant money building code for Windows that is compatible with Intel and AMD’s x86 computer architecture. Code built for x86 CPUs will not execute automatically on Arm-based designs, and the switch may be difficult.
Intel, too, has been incorporating AI elements into its CPUs, even displaying a laptop with ChatGPT capabilities operating right on the device. SemiAccurate, a chip-focused website, earlier reported AMD’s entry into the Arm-based PC market.