Microsoft is preparing Volterra, a mini Windows PC under Arm

Microsoft is preparing Volterra, a mini Windows PC under Arm

During its Build conference, Microsoft unveiled a new development suite called Volterra to support the transition of its applications to the Arm architecture.

Microsoft’s Build is an event usually dedicated to developers and software, but this year the manufacturer unveiled a new mini PC this year. This Volterra project is original because the computer contains a Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm in a mini-box. The Arm architecture here is not really intended for the general public, but rather for developers in order to move from x86 applications to Arm.

New Hope?

This is not Microsoft’s first attempt in this area, as Surface Pro X has tried this exercise without much success. Few applications at the time ran natively under Arm, and emulation of x86 and x64 applications was not the smoothest.

Therefore, Microsoft intends to follow in the footsteps of Apple, which in less than two years has managed to almost completely transition all of its Intel processors to its new M1 with the success we know in terms of power consumption and performance. Microsoft’s strategy will be different, but the idea is not to abandon the classic architectures and the Windows / Intel, Windows / AMD relationship (anyway).

Several details have been given about this Volterra project, which is indeed the counterpart of the Mac mini M1 for Windows, with the exception of a few photos of the box and its connections. The Snapdragon was not officially launched, but we may think it will be an 8cx Gen 3 introduced in December 2021 by Qualcomm, which promises much better performance than previous generations.

A priori, however, it will be difficult to compete with the latest chips from Apple, AMD and Intel … The goal is by no means to deliver a powerful machine, but sufficient for developers to work efficiently, especially due to the presence of a NPU (Neural Processing Unit) chip reserved for AI , all directly on a PC equipped with Arm.

In any case, we hope that this project will allow Microsoft to accelerate the development of its applications within Arm, so that it is possible to offer portable PCs (and other mini PCs) to the general public up to performance and autonomy. The delay will be complicated to catch up, Apple has a good lead at the moment, all the more so if the M2 chips are announced soon, maybe as early as June 6 at WWDC.

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