It’s been a long time coming, but Microsoft has finally delivered on its promise of a complete set of developer tools for Windows on Arm, from hardware to software, with support for Arm-specific platform features. It’s just in time, too, as the latest generation of Surface devices puts Microsoft’s Qualcomm-based SQ3 processor in the same hardware as Intel’s i7.
What’s perhaps most interesting about Microsoft’s Arm focus is its link to building machine learning–driven applications into Windows. The Surface launch showcased using the SQ3’s neural processing unit (NPU) to deliver real-time audio and visual processing, using pretrained models to handle background blurring and remove distracting noises. Microsoft states that the SQ3 NPU can deliver 15 trillion operations a second, so there’s plenty of scope for using it in your own code. That translates to being 80 to 90 times faster than running the model on a CPU and 20 times faster than on a GPU.
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