Qualcomm announces compatibility of the majority of Windows games with its new Arm-based laptop chipset.

Qualcomm aims to reassure game developers that their titles will generally run smoothly on the Snapdragon X Elite systems with few complications.

Qualcomm is reportedly advancing its Arm-based laptop technology with new models in development, alongside anticipated consumer releases of the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6, powered by the Snapdragon X Elite chipset. Historically, this would have required developers to adapt their x86 and x64 Windows software, but Qualcomm is offering assurances that games will operate effectively on these upcoming Snapdragon X Elite devices without modifications.

During the Game Developers Conference, Qualcomm’s Issam Khalil highlighted that the new computers will employ emulation to facilitate the running of many x86 and x64 games at close to full speed, negating the need for code adjustments or asset alterations. The Verge reports that Khalil noted the typical GPU bottleneck in games, and how emulation is not expected to affect GPU performance significantly. Despite some CPU overhead during initial emulation, Qualcomm anticipates satisfactory game performance.

However, there are exceptions. Games that utilize kernel-level anti-cheat technology may not be compatible with emulation. Nonetheless, Qualcomm’s testing with top Steam games suggests that the majority should run without issues.

Khalil also presented developers with two additional options for Snapdragon-based Windows platforms: a complete port to native ARM64 for enhanced CPU efficiency or the use of hybrid ARM64EC apps. The latter involves running Windows libraries and Qualcomm drivers natively, while emulating other software components, aiming to achieve near-native performance levels.

If Qualcomm’s emulation capabilities live up to expectations, it could mark a significant advancement for Arm-based Windows laptops, potentially offering superior performance and energy efficiency compared to traditional x86 Intel-based systems. However, Qualcomm’s track record with x86/x64 emulation has been less than stellar, as evidenced by criticism of the Arm-based Surface Pro 9’s Windows emulation performance by senior editor Devindra Hardawar.

Apple has set a high bar for x86 software emulation on Arm-based chips with its M-series processors and Rosetta 2 translation layer. A notable advantage for Apple is its comprehensive control over its ecosystem, including both hardware and software, which may allow for more effective optimization of the emulation process compared to other companies like Qualcomm, which only provides certain components such as GPUs and CPUs.

Source: The Verge  & Engadget


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