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I further discuss the rise of ARM computing and how it applies to today's laptops

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Snow White, Oct 28, 2021.

  1. Snow White

    Snow White Veteran Member

    May 2, 2019
    New follower of Wicca
    Roughly around 2018-2019, I started seeing ARM Windows laptops enter the market for around $850+. The processor was the Qualcomm Snapdragon. They had all-day battery life. They also had 4G internet that was much like the 4G cell phone data in a smartphone, though the 4G internet service itself required additional money, usually. Of course, Wifi was also an option. When speaking of 4G and Wifi in this post, they are two different things. Wifi is connecting to your home internet, for example. 4G is an additional included cellular modem.

    These laptops could actually run x86 apps, but the performance took a massive hit. And they could only run 32-bit x86 apps.

    Still, these laptops were seen as 'okay' by some people, due to the massive battery life, and the GPU usually had good performance as it didn't become gimped whether running x86 or ARM programs. Some GPU driver problems aside, that is. But performance of the GPU still seemed to hold up.

    There are now budget versions of the Snapdragon Windows laptops. Most of them use a chip called the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, now, and include around 4GB RAM. The battery life of these is only about 8.5 hours, it still includes 4G modems, but performance is still reduced over the $850 laptops of 2019.

    There is one version that seems better, though. Walmart has a Snapdragon 850 version that they sell under the Gateway brand, at the same budget price. So you end up with a bit more performance, but not always as much as every $850 2019 laptop.

    These laptops often trade blows with the Pentium laptops by Intel, while running x86 code. If you ran ARM code though, they would be faster still.

    Prices on these laptops is around $300-$350.

    I'll make another comparison, though, with an x86 system. I currently own a machine with a chip similar to the Ryzen 3200U, and with 8GB RAM. The CPU performance of the Snapdragon 850 was similar to that of the Ryzen 3200U while running x86 code. Unfortunately, the GPU was less powerful, with the Snapdragon 850 GPU getting about 2000 points on Geekbench 5 Compute, while the Ryzen 3200U's Vega 3 GPU got 4500.

    I know I talked at length about how good the Snapdragon GPU was, and how CPU performance could be worse due to running x86, and that's true, but these tests just show that the Snapdragon's real competitor is the Pentium, in which case you'll usually see good results by comparison, and not comparing it to a more robust chip like the Ryzen 3200U, which is more comparable to an i3 with UHD 620 integrated GPU.

    Another interesting thing to note is that the Snapdragon 850 laptop has 8 CPU cores. The Ryzen 3200U just has 2, with a form of Hyper-threading. So it did take all 8 Snapdragon cores, to match/beat the Ryzen chip's two.

    Here are some definitions for the complex terms I used:

    CPU - The processor of a computer or PC device

    GPU - the chip that processes graphics. Basically the graphics chip or graphics card

    x86 - the most common model used in instructions for a processor to use. Most programs on the PC are considered x86

    ARM - a simpler instruction model becoming more popular, that has the benefit of allowing chips that are smaller and less power-hungry. ARM doesn't have the same backwards compatibility as x86. When an ARM processor like the Snapdragon actually does run x86, it does it at reduced performance due to having to internally interpret the x86 code as ARM code for it to be able to understand it. This is often a slow process, and barring future technological breakthroughs, an ARM processor can usually run the ARM code, which it is used to, twice as fast as x86 code. Assuming the ARM system even has the software to tell it how to interpret the x86 code to begin with - which these particular Windows laptops do.

    So I've been devoting a lot of my time, as well as some time away from RF, to programming, and programming in an ARM environment. I see ARM as kind of the future of computers, or a reality in which I favor, for various additional reasons, but I'm not going to act crazy and say that x86 systems don't have uses both now and in the future, too.
  2. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Abnormal before it was fashionable
    Premium Member

    Mar 25, 2010
    I know what an arm is (have 2 of my own),
    but I din't understand the rest.
    • Funny Funny x 1