Microsoft may have an ARM-powered Surface Pro this year

Back in the early days of Surface, Microsoft used a mix of Intel and ARM-based chips on its new hardware range, before phasing out the latter and using the former pretty much exclusively. But according to a report in Petri, the company is planning on mixing up its chips with this year’s devices. 

The ARM chip is planned for the Surface Pro line, and it would sell alongside an Intel version. The device, codenamed Excalibur, features the 8cx SoC, which Microsoft has apparently been working on with Qualcomm. It’s said to be an entry-level model, rivalling the Core i5 version. Elsewhere, Microsoft is said to be testing AMD Picasso chips in the next generation of Surface Laptops, too. 

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Beyond a refresh of the innards, not much is expected to change in the Surface family design wise this generation – unless Project Centaurus gets its skates on. Designs will be pretty much indistinguishable, barring the introduction of USB-C instead of the Surface Connect port. 

So why is Microsoft trying so hard to explore options that don’t involve Intel? While it’s true that the two companies have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship over the years, sources have told Petri that the two are now on “shaky ground”. There’s no elaboration there, but Windows Central speculates that it’s “likely related to Intel’s recent chip shortage and lack of innovation in chip design.”

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Of course all of these products are just prototypes for now, and it’s possible that Microsoft will revert to the tried and trusted Intel-only approach. We’ll find out when the company decides to have another Surface hardware event – and that’ll probably be in October.

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