Qualcomm Says Windows Games Will Just Work on Snapdragon X Elite

Snapdragon Dev Kit with snapdragon x elite
In Short
  • At the GDC 2024, a Qualcomm engineer presented a session showcasing how PC games would work on Snapdragon X Elite seamlessly.
  • Games that are not ported to ARM64 will run using the x64 emulation. The hybrid ARM64EC approach would deliver near-native performance.
  • Qualcomm has prepared Adreno GPU drivers for DirectX 11, 12, Vulkan, and OpenCL.

As we inch closer to the release of ARM-based Snapdragon X Elite laptops, new details are emerging around the chipset’s performance, benchmark, and x86-x64 compatibility. At the Game Developers Conference 2024 (GDC), Qualcomm’s engineer revealed many interesting details about gaming compatibility on the upcoming Snapdragon X Elite chipset for PCs. According to a report by The Verge, Qualcomm is confident that PC games would run on Snapdragon X Elite effortlessly.

There are three ways x86-x64 games would run on Snapdragon X Elite. First, developers can port the game to the native ARM64 architecture for the best performance and efficiency. Next, developers can create an emulation-compatible app, called ARM64EC, where Windows libraries and Qualcomm drivers run natively, but the rest of the app is emulated. Here, games would deliver near-native performance.

Image Courtesy: Sean Hollister / The Verge

Third, and the most important one, if the developer doesn’t make any changes, the x86-x64 app should work just like that by using Windows x64 emulation. Here, all of the x86 binaries are translated to ARM64 which impacts the CPU performance (and battery life), however, this happens only the first time the code is translated. After that, the emulation layer uses the ARM64 cache directly.

Apart from that, to maintain gaming compatibility on Snapdragon X Elite, Qualcomm has prepared Adreno GPU drivers for Microsoft’s graphics API, DirectX. It has already developed GPU drivers for DirectX 11, 12, Vulkan, and OpenCL. It also supports older DirectX 9 API and OpenGL 4.6 through DX9on12 and GLon12 layers respectively.

Qualcomm says x64 emulation is improved significantly on Windows on ARM (WoA) and it offers good performance even when passed through the emulation layer. The company further says that it’s testing top Steam games on Snapdragon X Elite and feels assured that gaming titles would work seamlessly on the WoA platform. That said, Qualcomm says that if the game comes with an anti-cheat system (that uses a kernel driver), the x64 emulation won’t work.

So far, we have only seen Apple pull this miracle with the Rosetta 2 translation layer when it transitioned from Intel processors to its in-house M-series Apple Silicon. Now, how much better the x64 emulation is something only time will tell. Microsoft is expected to release the Surface Laptop 6 and Surface Pro 10 for consumers with the Snapdragon X Elite chipset. The company has already announced an in-person event scheduled for May in Seattle.

We reported earlier that Samsung is also planning to release the Galaxy Book4 “Edge” with the Snapdragon X Elite chipset. There are other OEMs too including Lenovo, HP, Acer, Asus, etc. who are planning to release laptops with the Qualcomm chipset by June of this year. With the report of improved compatibility for gaming, are you excited about ARM-powered Windows laptops? Let us know in the comments.

VIA The Verge
Comments 3
  • Xiao says:

    Sounds exciting! Can’t wait to see these in the wild.

  • Maya Bag says:

    I would love to see both laptops and desktops are working on arm architecture.it will definitely save the environment from carcon emission as it uses 1/8th of the power of x64 processors for same task

  • zep says:

    We’ll do the talking when it runs AAA games from 2024

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