Published in Graphics

Qualcomm's gaming gamble

by on26 March 2024

Arm laptops to run Windows games 

Qualcomm has told the gathered crowds at the 2024 Game Developers Conference (GDC) that Windows games are expected to be compatible with its forthcoming Arm laptops. If this holds true, x86 emulation and gaming could operate flawlessly on these machines without porting.

If this is the case, it means that someone has fixed Apple's problem with its Rosetta 2 translation layer. This layer facilitates the use of legacy x86 applications without a significant drop in performance. Apple's x86 emulation turned out to be a pain when it came to gaming performance. In fact, it turned out that Apple could not really do it effectively.

The Verge has disclosed that game developers will have a trio of methods to execute existing Windows games on Qualcomm's new Arm chip for Windows:

They can port their games to native ARM64 for optimal CPU performance and energy efficiency, as Qualcomm’s scheduler can adjust the CPU’s frequency accordingly.

Or they can use a hybrid “ARM64EC” application where Windows, its libraries, and Qualcomm’s drivers are native, but the remainder of the app is emulated, achieving "near-native" performance.

Alternatively, they can make minimal changes, and their games should still function — utilising x64 emulation.

Qualcomm backs its claim by noting that GPU-related performance issues often affect most Windows games and that GPU performance on a device is not hindered by emulation.

In support of this, Qualcomm has conducted tests on its Snapdragon X Elite laptops with various titles, such as Control, Baldur's Gate 3, and Redout II. Preliminary benchmark results indicate performance on par with the Radeon 780M when played on a Snapdragon X Elite laptop.

Qualcomm is poised to release its Snapdragon X Series devices later this year.


Last modified on 26 March 2024
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