New Microsoft device navigates via FCC, likely new ‘Surface Pro 9’ on ARM with 5G

  • A New Microsoft FCC Filing Has Just Been Approved
  • Reports relate to 4G LTE, 5G and Bluetooth radiation tests in a “wearable computing device”
  • Previous reports from Windows Central suggest it’s the new “Surface Pro 9 5G” based on an ARM processor

Historically, Microsoft has held Surface launch events between September and November, which is likely no different this year. On the Windows Core Podcasteditor Zac Bowden hears of a refresh for the Surface Laptop 5, the new Surface Studio 3 and the Surface Pro 9.

It is this last device that interests us today.

There are 21 filings for a new Microsoft device under the FCC C3K1997 listing spotted by a Twitter user @Lilputingnews. While much of the exciting information is confidential for 180 days, there is some evidence in the hundreds of pages of reports that suggest this is a new Surface Pro 5G.

The most significant clues are the numerous references to the device tested in “tablet mode” and a note stating: “This device contains the following capabilities: 850/1900 GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 850/1900 WCDMA/HSPA, Multi- LTE band, 5G NR multiband, WLAN 802.11b/g/n/ax, 802.11a/n/ac/ax UNII (5 GHz), Bluetooth (1x, EDR, LE).

None of the tests are for radiation near the head or using the device as a phone, as all are strictly data streams only.

The most curious tidbit refers to Qualcomm’s Smart Transmit algorithm, which performs “temporal averaging…in real time to control and manage transmit power and ensure time-averaged RF exposure is compliant. FCC requirements at all times”. This feature is used for 4G LTE and 5G when transmitting simultaneously.

Most (if not all) Intel-based laptops with 5G capabilities use Intel-based (or Fibocom) 5G modems like the Intel 5G Solution 5000 due to competitive pricing and better interfunctionality (as well as disdain from Intel to rely on Qualcomm for PC modems).

A 5G radio based on Qualcomm is very telling.

“Surface Pro 9” 5G would be based on ARM

Surface Pro 8 Profile

(Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Recent reports from Zac Bowden claim that Microsoft will indeed merge Surface Pro X into the “Surface Pro 9” this fall.

While most new Surface Pros will be based on 12th Gen Intel Core processors (possibly the P-series), at least the 5G model will be based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, likely with performance upgrades and labeled as Microsoft’s new SQ3 processor. .

While it’s tempting to rely on these new FCC filings as proof of a new Surface Duo 3, none of the tests involve cell phone calls and, more importantly, our source says a new Surface Duo won’t. won’t be available until at least fall 2023.

Microsoft has pushed Windows on ARM a lot this year. The company is set to release its first Windows desktop PC on ARM in the form of a development kit dubbed “Project Volterra”. According to Zac Bowden, this PC is powered by the Snapdragon 8cx Gen3 SoC and includes the same neural processing unit (NPU) AI features and power as planned for the Surface Pro 9 with ARM.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoC (Image credit: Qualcomm)

Expectations for the Surface Pro 9 chassis include additional edge rounding, a thinner profile, and possibly moving the Type-C ports to the left, with Surface Connect remaining on the right. This layout mirrors the Surface Pro X, except that even the ARM-based Surface Pro 9 should have ventilation near the top like the Intel-based systems (but probably no fan).

A 5G-enabled Surface Pro 9 will be Microsoft’s first 5G non-phone device. The company has been more conservative than other OEMs when it comes to providing high-speed cellular access for Windows PCs, many of which started rolling out nearly two years ago.

While offering two chips in one device might seem unusual, Microsoft has been offering buyers an option for AMD and Intel processors in the Surface Laptop series for the past few years. The merging of an ARM-based chip into the premium non-X Surface Pro line is an important step in standardizing Windows on ARM as a legitimate alternative to x86 processors.

Microsoft is expected to unveil the Surface Pro 9 alongside a new Surface Studio and Surface Laptop in the coming weeks. Of course, these plans could change between now and the announcement of these devices.

Thanks, @spaceOranger, for the tip!


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