The transition to ARM chips on Windows has been agonizingly slow, but Microsoft is attempting 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 off the possibilities of ARM chips on Windows.
To be clear — this isn’t a consumer PC. Project Volterra is a developer kit designed to “leverage the power of the Snapdragon Compute Platform,” supporting the wide range of scenarios developers can explore.
Microsoft says it will share more details at a later date, but Project Volterra enables developers to take advantage of the powerful integrated neural processing unit (NPU) in ARM chips to build apps that execute local A.I.-accelerated workloads.
More importantly, Microsoft hopes that Volterra Windows developers will build, test, and debug ARM-native apps alongside all their favorite productivity tools, including Visual Studio, Windows Terminal, WSL, VSCode, Microsoft Office, and Teams. This should help solve the app compatibility problem and emulation issues that have held back ARM-based Windows PCs when compared to M1-powered Macs.
Along with Project Volterra, Microsoft is also announcing a comprehensive end-to-end ARM-native toolchain for ARM native apps. This includes popular apps used by developers. Examples include the Full Visual Studio 2022 & 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 next few weeks, and Microsoft says it is hard at work helping many open-source projects natively target ARM, including Python, node, git, LLVM, and more.
“We want you to build cloud-native A.I. applications. With native Arm64 Visual Studio, .NET support, and Project Volterra coming later this year, we are releasing new tools to help you take the first step on this journey,” said Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer of Windows and Devices. “You can get started today by building on our cloud and taking advantage of our tooling and services. And it’s just the beginning of what will be possible. We can’t wait to see what you build.”
Project Volterra would be just the latest step by Microsoft to support developers who want to build native ARM apps for Windows and tap into the power of the Snapdragon Compute PCs. Last year, they announced the Snapdragon Developer Kit, an affordable developer kit that reduces the cost of buying hardware to code ARM apps for Windows.