Qualcomm has announced a new subbrand of CPUs for its Snapdragon family of products, called Oryon. The new CPU will be released in 2023 and be available to manufacturers to use in devices such as Windows PCs, smartphones, and other applications. The company announced the new CPU at its Snapdragon Summit on Wednesday, but provided few details about what it entails.
The company has made Snapdragon-branded chips for Windows and Chrome OS computers for a few years now but has had slow traction getting them into many Windows devices. The few ultraportable computers that have used Qualcomm’s Arm chips have been niche, premium devices that appeal to a specific subset of PC buyers, but not the broader market.
As Axios notes, Oryon builds on technology from Qualcomm’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Nuvia, a company formed in 2019 by three chip specialists who previously worked on Apple’s A-series chips. Nuvia’s former CEO, Gerard Williams III, was the one to announce the new Oryon brand.
Both Qualcomm and Nuvia are currently being sued by Arm, who claims they’ve violated the terms of its licensing agreement. Arm says the license granted to Nuvia is not transferrable as part of the acquisition, and wants Qualcomm to destroy any work done using Nuvia’s license. Arm says it terminated Nuvia’s licenses in February 2022.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line has lagged behind Apple’s Arm-based M-series processors when it comes to raw performance, but hasn’t been the main reason that Windows on Arm devices haven’t taken off. Rather, the issues stem from Windows on Arm itself, which has trouble running apps built for traditional Windows PCs and doesn’t offer many apps optimized specifically for the platform. Microsoft’s recent Surface Pro 9 is available with a Qualcomm Arm processor, but as we saw in our review, it falls far behind the Intel-equipped version due to these app issues.
Qualcomm’s next generation of chips for Windows computers will likely have better performance than its current crop — in the brief press release touting the new brand, it claims to provide “a new level of performance.” But unless the platform matures more and gets wider support from the application ecosystem, it’s unlikely to move the needle much.
Update November 17th, 8:03AM ET: Added mention of Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia, and the ongoing litigation between Arm, Qualcomm, and Nuvia.