Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chips to power Windows 8 laptops

Chip maker looks to take the fight to Intel Ivy Bridge.

Qualcomm is set to power Windows 8 laptops with its S4 Snapdragon quad-core chip, as it looks expand its portfolio beyond smartphones and tablets.

Rob Chandhok, senior vice president at Qualcomm, claimed that the S4 Snapdragon quad-core chip will allow manufacturers to make laptops that are "much lighter" than Intel-based Ultrabooks.

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"The S4 chips will enable smaller laptops with high-resolution screens, longer battery life and always-on connectivity," Chandhok told PC World in an interview.

Any entrant to one of Intel's core markets will be perceived as a threat, let alone one as large as Qualcomm.

The Snapdragon processors were expected to feature in Windows 8 tablets, but their emergence in laptops is likely to intensify competition in an already converging market.

Qualcomm is hoping its system-on-a-chip architecture will help differentiate its devices. S4 chips will have an integrated modem, so users are expected to be provided with 4G connectivity. This could attract business users who consume increasing amounts of content on the move.

S4 powered laptops are also likely to bring a significant increase in battery life, something that has generally been the Achilles heel of X-86-based Intel devices.

Qualcomm was contacted for more information regarding form factors, pricing and release dates, but the firm has yet to respond.

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Scott Bicheno, senior analyst , wireless smartphone at Strategy Analytics told IT Pro that competition in the mobile devices market is set to increase.

"Any entrant to one of Intel's core markets will be perceived internally as a threat, let alone one as large as Qualcomm," he said.

"WoA (Windows on ARM) promises enhancements such as longer battery life and always on' connectivity. However, Intel will feel in a strong position as the dominant incumbent with an established OEM ecosystem and full support for legacy Windows apps."

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