At its annual developer conference, Microsoft usually doesn’t announce new hardware. But at Build 2022, the company set aside time to unveil Project Volterra, a PC Microsoft designed to help developers build native ARM apps that use AI-accelerated workloads.
While we don’t have all the details on Project Volterra yet, we do know that it will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset with a special neural processing unit, or NPU. Microsoft told TechCrunch that the component would deliver “best-in-class” AI computing capability and efficiency.
You don’t usually see a neural processor on PCs. They are much more common in phones where they help conserve battery power by taking on machine learning tasks from the CPU. But with chips like Apple’s M1 including built-in NPUs, they’re becoming more and more common, and it’s that future Microsoft wants to be prepared for when it comes.
“As we expect NPUs to be built into most, if not all, future computing devices, we’re going to make it easy for developers to take advantage of these new capabilities by building support for NPUs into the end-to-end Windows platform. .” said Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer.
With Volterra, Microsoft adds Windows support for NPUs. The company also said that development tools such as Visual Studio 2022 and Windows Terminal would soon run natively on ARM hardware. All of that suggests that more than ever, the company wants developers to program native ARM apps for Windows.
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