MediaTek executives reiterated their plans to eventually enter the PC market with an Arm processor, challenging Qualcomm’s Snapdragon in the Windows on Arm market. Unfortunately, the details of its plans are still skimpy.
At an executive summit hosted by the company, MediaTek executives said that they see a $40 billion opportunity for the PC market, which the company will address with a version of its Kompanio mobile processor. MediaTek, which claims to be the fourth-largest fabless company in the world, also plans to build in 5G radios for connectivity, Bluetooth, WiFi, and display ICs for the notebook.
Corporate vice president Vince Hu said that MediaTek planned to move from the “low-power space to the high-power space,” taking some of the Arm technology it has applied to smartphone chips like its Dimensity processor line and applying it to PCs. He referred to a “recognition that we have to support higher-performance applications.”
“In CPU and GPU we are having to make some bigger investments as a foundational capability,” Hu added.
That seems to imply that MediaTek will design any improved CPUs and GPUs in house, rather than acquire or work with external third parties. That would be a different approach than Qualcomm, which has marketed several generations of Arm chips for laptops, but whose performance has struggled to keep up with X86 chips from AMD and Arm. Qualcomm acquired Nuvia as a source of Arm design talent to improve its capabilities, but is currently involved in a lawsuit with Arm, which has argued that Qualcomm’s existing licensing terms to do not include the Nuvia designs.
MediaTek’s plans to attack the PC market stem from its current position on Chromebooks — which, according to company executives, include a position as the top Arm chip supplier to that Chromebook market. MediaTek on Thursday launched the new Kompanio 520 and 528, entry-level chipsets for Chromebooks.
MediaTek’s attack on the PC will be led by Adam King, the vice president and general manager of client computing for MediaTek. King spent six years planning Intel’s client platforms, and four more as director of notebook product marketing overseeing the 4th-gen through 6th-gen mobile Core chips.
Unfortunately, King stayed mum as well. “We absolutely believe in the long term potential of Windows on ARM,” King said. “We think that the market will over the long term transition to ARM based processors. Because of the power and area efficiency that I described. It’s not inevitable — it requires lots of work and lots of barriers to be overcome. But the benefit is clearly there. I can say that we’re working on plans today. I just can’t share them with you yet.”
MediaTek executives first tipped their plans to enter the PC market last year, though without any details. The company had previously said that it would skip the Windows 10 generation of the PC market, describing it as a limited opportunity.