ARM begins its assault on the PC market with the new Cortex-A78C, its first CPU focused on high-end laptops

ARM CPUs are found in all kinds of devices thanks to their agreement with other manufacturers, from cars to mobiles. But there is a sector where they still do not have a prominent presence, that of high-end laptops and computers . Now, a week after Apple launches its first laptops with ARM chipsets , the company introduces the new Cortex-A78C. Its focused high-end CPU design for Windows laptops.

The new Cortex-A78C are based on the Cortex A78 cores presented in May of this year and focused on the mobile market. Its first high-performance CPU is focused on ‘Always-On’ laptops, referring to those laptops with a high level of autonomy and ultra-thin design.

It’s no match for Intel or AMD, but it’s a first step

It’s still too early for Nvidia’s hand to step in, but it is a representation of how ARM wants to translate its success with mobile processors into the notebook arena, dominated primarily by Intel and AMD.

Coupled with an 8MB L3 cache , the CPU is designed to handle high-load processes, significantly above what most powerful smartphones offer. At the GPU level, the Cortex-A78C are compatible with the Mali-G78 GPU .

The Cortex-A78C do not rely on the big.LITTLE configuration used in the mobile versions. Instead they incorporate versions of eight or six main cores to offer a good experience in what they call ” digital immersion “, in reference to technologies such as virtual or augmented reality.

ARM insists that these new Cortex-A78C CPUs are prepared to offer good performance in notebooks, but the competition takes much more to do . This is the case with Intel or AMD, but even Qualcomm with its Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 offers great results. We will have to wait until next week to find out what Apple offers, but taking into account the results of its A14 chip, it is very likely that the performance of these Cortex-A78Cs will fall short in comparison.

Although, it is not the hardware that presents the most problems with these ARM chipsets, but the software . Well, the x64 application emulation is not fully operational yet.

ARM’s hopes to try to gain a foothold in the laptop market go through Cortex-X1 , the future CPU that will arrive in early 2021 and debuts a new architecture. To date, ARM has always focused on the efficiency of its cores. With the new Cortex-A78C the message has already changed. A start that perhaps falls short, but anticipates ARM’s firm intention to bet on the computer segment . We will see if manufacturers such as MediaTek, Huawei or Samsung, who work with ARM on smartphones, also decide to accompany ARM in this transition.

John Hartshorne
Senior IT engineer by the UPM of training and technical editor by profession, I have been writing in print and online media since the late 90s.
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