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MediaTek could supply Arm chips for Microsoft Copilot+ laptops starting next year

Rumor mill: Microsoft recently unveiled a new generation of AI-centric Windows laptops dubbed Copilot, and Qualcomm is the only company that currently makes the Arm-based processors for these devices. However, that could change soon, with a new entrant expected to join the scene in the near future.

According to sources quoted by Reuters, Qualcomm’s arch rival in the smartphone space, MediaTek, is developing an Arm-based laptop processor for Copilot+ PCs. The report does not reveal any technical details about the new chip, but claims that it might debut late next year after Qualcomm’s exclusive deal with Microsoft expires. Neither Microsoft nor MediaTek has commented on the report as yet.

A report from last year claimed that MediaTek was collaborating with Nvidia to develop Arm chips for Windows PCs. However, Reuters claims that the rumored new chip is not part of any collaborative effort, but a completely separate project. It’s not immediately clear if the supposed collaboration between the two chip majors is still active or if the Taiwanese chipmaker has ditched the project to concentrate on its own efforts instead.

The news about MediaTek’s rumored new PC chip is in line with Microsoft’s recent focus on Arm devices to better compete with MacBooks powered by Apple’s M-series chips. Based on Arm designs, the M-series processors typically outperform comparable x86-64 CPUs from Intel and AMD in various real-world applications, making it somewhat difficult for Microsoft to compete against Apple in the high-end segment, especially for creative workloads.

Microsoft showcased a slew of laptops powered by the Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus processors at its Surface event last month. Major PC vendors, including Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, Samsung, and Lenovo, announced their first batch of Copilot+ laptops at the event, with the promise of more to come in the near future. Microsoft itself also announced two Copilot+ devices of its own – the new Surface Laptop and the Surface Pro – with prices starting at $999.99.

Microsoft’s Copilot+ standard requires laptops to include a built-in NPU powerful enough to process 40+ trillion operations per second (TOPS). The Snapdragon X processors powering the new devices feature an integrated Hexagon NPU, which Qualcomm claims can generate up to 45 TOPS for AI workloads. This performance makes devices equipped with the new chips powerful enough to meet the Copilot+ standard.

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