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Chrome for Windows gains native support for Arm chips

by Janes

Google has announced that Chrome now has a version optimized for Windows computers and Arm chips. According to the company, the new version represents a drastic leap in performance compared to previous ones, which needed emulation to work on chips with this architecture.

Arm compatibility in Windows is important news because Qualcomm is about to launch its new line of processors with the Arm architecture, called Snapdragon X Elite, which promises superior performance to Apple’s own chips and should be present in the new generation of Microsoft Surface devices.

Not by chance, Qualcomm itself participated in the development and announcement of the launch of the new version of Google’s browser, even though it also runs on Arm chips from other manufacturers.

“The new version of Google Chrome will help cement the Snapdragon X Elite’s role as the leading platform for Windows PCs starting in mid-2024,” says Cristiano Amon, president and CEO of Qualcomm, in the statement published by the company.

Support for the Arm architecture itself isn’t new to Chrome. It has native compatibility with this type of chip on macOS. Apple’s self-inflicted computers (M1, M2, M3, and their variations) are Arm-based. ChromeOS itself, a system derived from the browser, also supports this type of processor, present in some Chromebook models.

Windows on Arm hasn’t caught on yet
Qualcomm has been trying for almost a decade to increase its share of the Windows computer market, but a major obstacle lies precisely in compatibility with software made for the x64 architecture, used in Intel and AMD processors.

In practice, a lot of things run as emulation, which compromises performance. Microsoft — also interested in Arm — has been trying to create tools to overcome this challenge, such as Arm64EC, which allows developers to port software piecemeal from x64 to Arm.

With it, it is possible to pass the main part of a code to Arm, while keeping other parts in x64, which continue to run with emulation. That way, you don’t have to go through the trouble of migrating everything at once to the new architecture, and the natively compatible part can already guarantee an improvement in performance.

Microsoft is likely to launch its new line of laptops in May at an event ahead of the developer-oriented Build conference. The Surface Laptop 6 and Surface Pro 10 are expected to come equipped with the new Snapdragon X Elite.

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