Arm says it wants all Snapdragon X Elite laptops destroyed

Written on 06/12/2024

The Battle Royal Legall Issue Between Arm and Qualcomm Just Got Started.


  • Arm is trying to eliminate Qualcomm from Windows market, so it can introduce its own Cortex design.
  •  Rumors suggest that Nvidia, MediaTek, and AMD may enter the Windows ecosystem soon with Arm chips.
  •  Arm claims Qualcomm doesn't have a license for custom Arm chips, creating a legal battle between the two companies.

What does Arm want?

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X series laptops are launching in a week, which is a pretty big deal. There's been a big bang since Apple started using Arm chips in its Macs, but this is seen as a product launch that puts Windows on par with the Mac.

But there's another buck, at least depending on your perspective: Arm Holdings and Qualcomm have been locked in a legal battle for some time now, over these very chips.

"Arm's lawsuit against Qualcomm and Nubia seeks to protect the Arm ecosystem and partners that rely on our intellectual property and innovative designs, thereby enforcing Qualcomm's contractual obligations to protect Nubia's designs, which are based on Arm technology and are not being used for longer," an Arm spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.

And there you have it. Arm wants to disrupt everything with its Snapdragon X-series chips. Or maybe not?

First, let's be clear about what the company is after here. Qualcomm laid the foundation for Windows on Arm, a platform that was announced at the end of 2016 and has since expanded its ecosystem. Chrome, Slack, and many other native apps would not exist without Snapdragon PCs. Arm is demanding that Qualcomm be taken out of the market so that they can go to market with their own Cortex designs.

And from rumors and what I've heard from my own sources, it looks like more Arm vendors are entering the Windows ecosystem. Rumor has it that Nvidia, MediaTek, and AMD are taking notice, and competitors could enter the market as early as CES 2025.

Perhaps a company like MediaTek will use Arm's own Cortex cores. Of course, it makes more money for Arm. It's also a way for the company to stay competitive in a world where both Apple and Qualcomm are moving away from Cortex designs because Arm didn't deliver what they needed.

t Comes Down To Licensing & If Qualcomm Have The Rights to Mnufacture it's own ARM Chips.

Essentially, Arm is saying that Qualcomm doesn't have a license to manufacture custom Arm chips, and Qualcomm is saying that it does. There are two types of ARM licenses. One is for using Cortex cores, which Arm develops as essentially off-the-shelf parts. The other type of license lets you build anything you want as long as it complies with the Arm instruction set.

Apple and Qualcomm have adopted the latter.

Arm has always been open about its preference for companies that use Cortex cores. Custom chips mean that companies like Qualcomm can make better Arm chips than Arm can, and the old Apple excuse that it was always important to optimize the entire stack from hardware to software no longer applies.

Qualcomm acquired a company called Nuvia for this purpose, and initially used Nuvia's architecture license. Arm argues that Nuvia's license ended when it was acquired by Qualcomm. If this holds up in court, it would have to negotiate a new agreement.

And that's it. Arm is asking Qualcomm to stop shipping the disputed products, but to be honest, these things don't usually end that way. There's no way the products will be delayed from hitting stores. Lawsuits like this usually end with one company giving the other a lot of money and the other company walking away.

Snapdragon Acer also plans to release a product in mid-July.