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Chrome browser for Snapdragon PCs lands just in time

Chrome for Snapdragon artImage: IDG

Google has published a final, shipping version if its Chrome browser for Snapdragon PCs just a few short weeks before the launch of PCs using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite processor.

Chrome for Windows on Snapdragon should be available via Google, complementing the version for X86 PCs that has been on the market for years.

Qualcomm soft-launched the Snapdragon X Elite platform last fall in anticipation of PCs shipping with the Snapdragon X Elite processor in mid-2024. Some of the first devices expected include consumer versions of the Microsoft Surface Pro 10 and the Surface Laptop 6. Those devices, marketed as the Surface Pro 10 for Business and the Surface Laptop 6 for Business, were announced with Intel Core Ultra processors a short time ago. All told, nine PC vendors are expected to ship Snapdragon X Elite PCs.

Chrome’s commitment, though, is good news. Early iterations of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7- and 8-series chips were often accompanied by beta versions of Microsoft’s Edge and Mozilla’s Firefox browser, indicative of the lack of software support for the Arm architecture. Chrome, however, owns 51 percent of the U.S. market, with Edge tallying less than 8 percent, according to StatCounter.

Those earlier PCs sometimes featured un-optimized versions of apps that hadn’t been natively ported to the Arm architecture as the new Chrome browser has, leading to poor performance, comparatively, and bugs. PCWorld’s review of the Surface Pro 9 (5G), an Arm PC, felt that most of the core Windows apps had been ported to Arm. Other reviewers disagreed.

Qualcomm said that the new, optimized Chrome browser shows a “dramatic performance improvement” using the Speedometer 2.0 benchmark. In a video that accompanied Qualcomm’s statement, Qualcomm showed a laptop that scored 180 in Speedometer 2.0 using an unoptimized version of Chrome, and 437 with the optimized version — 143 percent more. Qualcomm said that it tested a Core Ultra 7 155H laptop and that it scored 391.

Qualcomm has often over-promised and underdelivered on previous versions of Snapdragon PCs. I continue to be cautiously optimistic that the Snapdragon X Elite can deliver.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

Recent stories by Mark Hachman:

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