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Microsoft’s Weapon to Defeat Apple Silicon: Copilot Plus PC

Morrissey TechnologyMicrosoft is now very confident that it will successfully make the transition to ARM chips and defeat the dominance of Apple Silicon. At the Surface and Windows AI event held in Redmond, United States — Microsoft’s headquarters. Their weapon to defeat Apple Silicon is called Copilot Plus PC, which from the name alone shows that artificial intelligence (AI) will be its main feature, including 40 AI models embedded in the operating system, as well as the Copilot AI assistant equipped with the GPT-4o model The latest from OpenAI.

Microsoft does not hesitate to directly compare the latest laptops in the Copilot Plus PC category with the MacBook Air with the M3 chip. Yusuf Mehdi, one of the Microsoft executives who presented at the event, claimed that the performance of this new laptop was 58% faster than the MacBook Air M3.

It’s just that he didn’t explain whether all Copilot Plus PCs have that kind of performance, or only laptops with the latest ARM chips from Qualcomm. However, what is clear is that they estimate that 50 million new Copilot Plus PC laptops will be sold during 2025.

Performance

Copilot Plus PC is predicted to be a system that is efficient in power usage, has fast performance, and is the basis for future AI-based laptops FOR4D.

“You’re going to see the fastest PC of all time. In fact, it will beat every device out there, including the MacBook Air with the M3 processor, by 50% in sustained performance,” said Mehdi.

You could say, since Apple released the M1 in 2020, Microsoft has fallen very far behind in terms of performance and battery efficiency for laptops. Plus, Microsoft’s attempts to move from x86 to ARM at that time were never successful.

For your information, the transition to ARM has been underway since 2012 when the Surface RT was released. Performance was poor, and almost no apps were compatible with the platform. Then in 2019 they released the Surface Pro X, which was slightly better due to improved software emulation. However, it still cannot compete with the M1 which was released a few months later.

“This is something we have never produced for two decades, we have never mastered a device that can produce maximum performance,” he explained.

Compatibility

High performance is of course useless if there is no application to support it. To overcome this, Microsoft has an emulator called Prism, which is claimed to be as efficient as Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation layer, and can emulate applications twice as fast as previous Windows on Arm devices FOR4D.

For your information, estart, translation, or whatever it is called, is a system created so that applications for x86 (or x64) can be operated on ARM-based platforms. The performance will certainly not be as high as applications that are created natively for ARM, but the performance difference is being tried to be as small as possible.

“We’re spending a lot of energy here. For applications that aren’t native, we can now take advantage of Prism’s capabilities and solve this with better energy and performance efficiency for the emulator,” said Windows and Surface chief Pavan Davuluri.

In fact, this emulator is just a bridge so that the transition from x86 to ARM can be smoother. If you look at the success of Apple Silicon, they were able to grow rapidly because they were able to encourage developers to immediately port their applications to ARM, so they could run natively and take advantage of all the capabilities of Apple Silicon.

This is what Microsoft needs to do if it wants Copilot Plus PC to be a success. Not just promising high performance and the like. Fortunately, there are many popular applications that support ARM natively, for example, Photoshop, Dropbox, Zoom, Spotify, Prime, and including Google which has brought Chrome to ARM. Browsers such as Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, Firefox, and of course Edge have now joined ARM.

Battery life

Microsoft has not forgotten battery life either. In their presentation, they compared the 2022 Surface Laptop 5 with the Surface Copilot Plus PC using scripts to simulate web browsing. The result?

The Surface Laptop 5 lasted eight hours and 38 minutes, and the Surface Copilot Plus PC lasted 16 hours and 56 minutes. For comparison, the MacBook Air 15 M3 “only” lasted 15 hours 25 minutes. In testing for video playback the Surface Copilot Plus PC lasted more than 20 hours, while the MacBook Air 15 M3 lasted 17 hours 45 minutes.

A.I

Copilot Plus PC is equipped with a neural processing unit (NPU) from Qualcomm FOR4D which produces 45 TOPS capability for processing AI tasks. Its task operations per watt are higher than the MacBook Air M3, and even the RTX 4060 GPU from Nvidia.

Then there are 40 small AI models embedded in the operating system, 10 of which run in the background and are claimed to provide new user experiences for consumers and application developers.

“This opens the door to new opportunities for AI experiences. NPUs provide magic in the form of the ability to perform high-performance tasks,” said Davuluri.

One of them is the Recall feature, which can be a kind of time machine on a PC. Users can “rewind” whatever appears on the PC, which can happen because the AI ​​model runs in the background and records everything the user does on the PC.

There is also Auto Super Resolution which automatically upscales the game to increase the frame rate and graphic resolution.

Of course, all of this is still just a claim from Microsoft. We have to wait until there is a device with this platform available on the market. Fortunately, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung have released Copilot Plus PC laptops that use Qualcomm processors.

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