The transition to chips ARM on Windows it’s been agonizingly slow, but Microsoft is trying to put some better tools in the hands of developers to help things along. Just announced at Build 2022, Project Volterra is a new device that shows the possibilities of ARM chips in Windows.
To be clear, this is not a consumer PC. Project Volterra is a development kit designed to “harness the power of the Snapdragon compute platform”, supporting the wide range of scenarios that developers can explore.
Microsoft says it will share more details at a later date, but Project Volterra allows developers to take advantage of the powerful embedded Neural Processing Unit (NPU) on ARM chips to build apps that run local AI-accelerated workloads.
More importantly, Microsoft expects Volterra Windows developers to build, test, and debug native ARM apps alongside all of your favorite productivity tools, including Visual Studio, Windows Terminal, WSL, VSCode, Microsoft Office, and Teams. This should help resolve the application compatibility and emulation issues that have held back ARM-based Windows PCs compared to M1-powered Macs.
Along with Project Volterra, Microsoft is also announcing a comprehensive end-to-end ARM-native toolchain for ARM-native applications. This includes popular apps used by developers. Examples include the full Visual Studio 2022 and VSCode apps, Visual C++, Modern .Net 6 and Java, Classic.NET Framework, Windows Terminal, and ESDL and WSA for running Linux and Android apps. Many of these tools are coming in the coming weeks, and Microsoft says it’s working hard to help many open source projects natively target ARM, including Python, node, git, LLVM, and more.
“We want you to build cloud-native AI applications. With native Arm64 Visual Studio, .NET support, and Project Volterra later this year, we’re releasing new tools to help you take the first step on this journey,” said Panos Panay, Product Manager for Windows and Devices. “You can get started today by building on our cloud and taking advantage of our tools and services. And it is only the beginning of what will be possible. We can’t wait to see what you build.”
Project Volterra would be just the latest step for Microsoft to support developers who want to build native ARM apps for Windows and harness the power of Snapdragon compute PCs. Last year, they announced the Snapdragon Developer Kit, an affordable development kit that lowers the cost of buying hardware to code ARM applications for Windows.