Microsoft might distance itself from Intel with this year's Surface lineup

Intel has been the provider of chips for every successful Surface PC that has ever existed. The only Surface PCs that used anything else were the Surface RT and Surface 2, which used ARM chipsets made by Nvidia.

But Intel's hold on Surface might be changing, as Microsoft might be looking to diversify. On it's own, this is nothing new. The company has publicly said that it's considered an ARM-based Surface Pro, and Brad Sams' noted in his book Beneath a Surface that there's an AMD Ryzen-powered Surface Laptop on the way.

In a report on Petri today, Sams also confirmed that the ARM-based Surface Pro will use a custom chip that's codenamed Excalibur. According to the report, Microsoft worked closely with Qualcomm on it so it would work well with Windows 10.

While the report states that it's a custom chipset, it actually sounds a lot like the Snapdragon 8cx. The 8cx is custom-designed for Windows 10, designed to have performance on par with an Intel Core i5. The Snapdragon 8cx would also fit the timeframe, as it's slated to arrive later on this year.

While we were expecting a redesign of the Surface Pro this year, that's apparently not happening until next year. According to Sams, the only change we'll see in the Surface Pro 7, codenamed Carmel, is the addition of a USB Type-C port. But you'll still be able to pick one up with an Intel processor if you want. Perhaps, the Excalibur variant will be the one that supports 4G LTE, or even 5G, as that would be included in the chipset.

At Computex this year, Lenovo announced Project Limitless, a 5G PC using a Snapdragon 8cx 5G that's coming next year. What's interesting though is that my contacts at Qualcomm have told me that Limitless actually won't be the first 5G Windows 10 PC with an 8cx; there will be one later on this year. If that 5G PC was a Surface device, then it would make a lot of sense as to why the Lenovo one got announced first, as Microsoft likes to keep a lid on these types of things.

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