Monday, September 26

Microsoft’s idea to launch Windows 11 ARM goes beyond emulation: this is Arm64EC


One of the main drawbacks of Windows 11 ARM-compatible computers, such as the Microsoft Surface Pro X, is the limited amount of software available. Most programs are designed to work with the x64 architecture that we find in computers with Intel or AMD processors, but not in those with ARM processors.

One of the possible solutions to this scenario, if we don’t want to force developers to recompile all their software at once, is to use emulators that allow x64 programs to run on ARM. Windows 11 has supported this type of emulation since last year, but the operating system now is taking another interesting step with Arm64EC.

Arm64EC, good news for Windows 11 ARM?

Although the use of emulators or dynamic translators can be a good option, let us remember the case of Apple’s Rosetta 2 in its migration from Intel to Apple Silicon, they are also considered a temporary solution since, in general, do not allow programs to run natively and, consequently, obtain the same performance as on the platform for which they were created.

Now, from a developer’s perspective, migrating your software to another platform can be a complicated process, demanding time and resources from your team. What Microsoft is proposing with Arm64EC is the concrete possibility of doing the migration work little by little thanks to the interoperability of code for x64 and for ARM.

This means that an application can have a part built for ARMwhich will benefit from native performance, and another part for x64, which will work thanks to the Windows 11 emulator. This possibility is also very interesting for apps that have third-party dependencies or add-ons that are not ARM compatible.

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For now, developers can already work with ARM64EC to adapt their applications to ARM (or part of them) with Windows Insider SDK and Visual Studio Preview. Users, for our part, could see the arrival of more native applications for Windows 11 ARM, a promising platform, but when it comes to working or playing, it presents problems due to its limited software offer.

Now, despite Microsoft’s efforts, in the minds of developers there are also many other variables that must be considered before migrating their applications, such as the possibility of commercially exploiting their work, something that is related to market share and future projection of the platform.

Everyone wants their own ARM chip: Google, Apple, Huawei and Samsung already manufacture their SoCs, but there are many more in the pipeline

Currently, the PC market is dominated by x86/x64 architectures with processors from Intel and AMD. In the ARM sphere, Apple has 9% of the market with its M1, M2 processors and variants, according to TechRadar. Qualcomm, with its Snapdragon, owns 3% of the world market, but this is divided into products with ChromeOS and Windows. As we can see, ARM on Windows still needs to take off.

Pictures | microsoft

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