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Microsoft new Windows Dev Kit 2023 is a compact desktop computer designed as a platform for developers interested in creating programs that run natively on Windows computers with ARM-based processors. But the $600 minicomputer is also one of the most powerful Windows on ARM computers available today.
It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor and has 32GB of LPDDR4x memory and a 512GB SSD stuffed inside an 8″ x 6″ x 1.1″ body that weighs about 2.1 pounds.
Microsoft first revealed that it was working on the dev suite earlier this year, when it was known under the code name Project Volterra.
Now that the PC is ready for prime time, Microsoft is giving it an official (and descriptive, if somewhat boring) name. Full specifications have also been revealed, so we know the system has two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports, three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a mini DisplayPort, an Ethernet jack and support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. wireless connectivity.
The system has an sTPM module for security and a case that is made with 20% recycled ocean-bound plastic. It ships with Windows 11 Pro and, as the name suggests, is aimed at developers and includes support for features such as the Windows Subsystem for Linux, virtual machines and development tools including Visual Studio and VSCode.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor is said to offer 85% better performance than the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2, making it the most powerful ARM processor for Windows PCs to date (although it’s unclear how it stacks up against the latest ARM-based chips from Apple for Macs). and iPads, or whether this will ultimately be the chip that allows Windows on ARM laptops to feel competitive with computers with x86 chips when it comes to performance not just performance).
An update: Early reviews of the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 5G suggest that while the operating system and some Microsoft apps run smoothly on a tablet with a nearly identical processor, apps that haven’t been updated to run natively on ARM are still frustratingly sluggish. And this is why this Dev Kit exists – to give developers an affordable platform to test their programs on an ARM-based PC. Whether they will actually do so and port their software to ARM architecture remains to be seen.
The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 chip four ARM Cortex-X1 CPU cores, four Cortex-A78 CPU cores, Adreno graphics and a neural processing unit (NPU) that Qualcomm says delivers up to 29 TOPs of AI performance.
According to Microsoft, that NPU is an important feature. One independent software vendor said that after moving their AI models to run on the NPU, they saw those models run 80-90 times faster than they would on the CPU, and 20 times faster than they would on the GPU, leaving the CPU cores. free for other tasks.
Only a few devices with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor have been announced so far, including the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s, which sells for $1,000 and up, and the ARM-powered version of the Microsoft Surface Pro 9, which sells for $1,300 and up (and who). actually uses a Microsoft SQ3 processor here based on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3).
In other words, the Windows Dev Kit 2023 is not only one of the most powerful Windows on ARM PCs to date, but it’s also one of the more affordable options for people interested in trying out a high-performance, Windows-compatible ARM processor . I suspect it’s only a matter of time before someone tries to see if this thing can run Linux natively after all.
Microsoft says the Windows Dev Kit 2023 is available from the Microsoft Store in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US.
via Windows Experience Blog