Microsoft's next HoloLens will be an Always Connected PC powered by a Snapdragon 850

There's been no shortage of leaks, rumors, and outright announcements from Microsoft about the company's next iteration of HoloLens, its standalone holographic PC. One particular rumor came over the summer, claiming that the next-generation device will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR1 chipset.

As it turns out, this wasn't completely accurate, but the headset will indeed use an SoC from Qualcomm. Instead of the XR1 though, several sources have confirmed that it will use a Snapdragon 850 Mobile Compute Platform. That's the same chipset that's already found in the Lenovo Yoga C630 and Samsung Galaxy Book2.

Qualcomm just announced its next-generation PC chipset last week, the Snapdragon 8cx. You might be wondering why Microsoft isn't going with that instead, but remember, HoloLens relies heavily on its Holographic Processing Unit (HPU); the last generation actually used an Intel Atom for the CPU. When I reached out to Microsoft for comment on this story, I was directed to its announcement from July 2017 on its new HPU, saying that it will include an AI coprocessor.

What this means though, is that the next HoloLens will be an Always Connected PC. Not only will it benefit from ARM's 'instant on' functionality, but the Snapdragon 850 has a Snapdragon X20 4G LTE modem built into it, which is capable of download speeds of 1.2Gbps. Unfortunately, we can't confirm that the device will actually support these speeds, as Microsoft is already throttling the Snapdragon X16 in the Surface Pro and Surface Go to 450Mbps (I've been told that it's an issue with the antennas).

HoloLens has a major enterprise focus, and 4G LTE is a major use case for businesses. It's more secure than public Wi-Fi, and it allows users to be always connected to the internet, so they can work more easily in the field.

At Build this year, Microsoft announced Project Kinect for Azure, saying that the sensor is what will be used in the next HoloLens. With that, a Snapdragon 850, and an HPU with an AI coprocessor, it's starting to be clearer what the next-generation holographic PC will look like.

And then there's the software, which is Windows Core OS, or WCOS. WCOS removes a lot of the legacy parts of Windows 10, so you should actually get better performance out of the Snapdragon 850 on HoloLens than you will on a PC like the Yoga C630 or Galaxy Book2.

According to the most recent rumors, Microsoft will be releasing its next HoloLens in the second quarter of 2019, although the Snapdragon 850 chipset will likely be confirmed by the company in February. Hopefully, it will show off its next standalone holographic PC then.

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