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Microsoft planning improved Surface RT with Qualcomm processor

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Microsoft Surface RT hero (1024px)
Microsoft Surface RT hero (1024px)

Microsoft is planning to refresh its Surface RT with a Qualcomm processor. Existing Surface RT devices use Nvidia's Tegra 3 chipset, but Bloomberg reports that a refreshed version will ship using Qualcomm processors, while Nvidia continues to be a supplier for "some versions." The switch to Qualcomm, which appears to be for unannounced Surface RT devices, will likely come into effect later this year.

The first Surface with LTE support?

Sources familiar with Microsoft's Surface plans have revealed to The Verge that the company is testing Windows RT 8.1 Surface devices with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor. The chip includes integrated LTE connectivity, allowing Microsoft to potentially ship its first Surface device with mobile broadband. Microsoft's ecosystem and planning chief, Mike Angiulo, hinted at this possibility while defending the Windows RT operating system earlier this year. "And on the ARM side, there is a propensity for a much higher percentage of PCs that are going to ship with mobile broadband [3G / 4G]," said Angiulo at the time.

Microsoft has been clearing its existing stock of Surface RT devices recently. At a TechEd conference earlier this month attendees could purchase a 64GB Surface RT with a Touch Cover for just $99.99. The software maker has also started selling its tablet to schools for $199, providing they purchase the device before September. The timing and Qualcomm testing would suggest that Microsoft is planning its refresh Surface RT hardware for around the time that Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 is finalized and ready to ship on devices this fall.