Surface Pro 9 | Hands-on Review from its Lead Engineer

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This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.

Find out about the all-new Surface Pro 9 on the 10th anniversary of the Surface Pro line. A secured-core PC, we’ll look at the silicon choices from the 12th Gen Intel® processors built on the Intel® Evo™ platform for work-station class power, to the ARM-based Microsoft SQ® 3 powered by Qualcomm® SnapDragon® with 5G, for superior mobility and performance on the go. 

 

Main Screen Shot 2022-10-12 at 12.08.11 PM.png

Dave Mitchell, who leads the team that engineers Surface Pro, gives a hands-on review with all the details on performance, hardware options, new capabilities brought to life by the NPU in Surface Pro 9 with 5G, and the new Firmware Attack Surface Reduction (FASR) implementation to meet Secured-core PC standards. We’ll showcase the engineering journey of the Surface Pro line and how it’s influenced the rest of the Surface line along with updates for enterprise device admins, including new, more granular firmware controls from Intune. 

 

Stick around till the end to see the new Surface Laptop 5, also a Secured-core PC with 12th Gen Intel® processors built on the Intel® Evo™ platform, and the new Surface Studio 2+ with its updated internals, including Intel® Core™ i7 processor and Thunderbolt™ 4 ports.

 

Take the Surface Pro 9 engineering deep dive.

1- Surface Pro 9 Screen Shot 2022-10-12 at 12.18.38 PM.png

For work-station class power: 12th Gen Intel® processors with Intel EVO.
For superior mobility: ARM-based Microsoft SQ® 3 powered by Qualcomm® SnapDragon® with 5G. See your options here.

 

Free your CPU.

2- Free your CPU Screen Shot 2022-10-12 at 12.13.23 PM.png

Offload Audio/Video processing to the NPU using Surface Pro 9 with 5G. DSLR like background blur, automatic framing, eye contact, and voice focus — No CPU tax. See it here.

 

Secured-core PCs using FASR (Firmware Attack Surface Reduction).

3- FASR Screen Shot 2022-10-12 at 12.15.33 PM.png

So how does this compare to D-RTM? Find this out along with getting info on the other technical updates.

 

Watch our video here.


QUICK LINKS: 

00:00 — Surface Pro 9 overview and what’s coming up 

00:51 — Surface Pro line’s 10-year anniversary 

02:46 — Details of both Surface Pro 9 chipset options 

04:10 — Surface Pro 9 with Intel specifics 

05:30 — Surface Pro 9 with 5G (ARM) specifics 

06:59 — NPU for Background Blur, Automatic Framing, Eye Contact & Voice Focus 

09:30 — Security updates with FASR (Intel), D-RTM and Microsoft Pluton (ARM) 

10:21 — Device management updates with Intune 

10:55 — Hardware serviceability and repair options 

11:25 — Surface Studio 2+ updates 

11:52 — Surface Laptop 5 built on the Intel Evo platform 

12:39 — Find out more about Microsoft Surface for Business

 

Link References: 

More Surface updates at https://www.surface.com/business

 

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Video Transcript:

Jeremy Chapman:
Up next, we take an engineering deep dive and tour of the all new Surface Pro nine on the 10th anniversary of Microsoft’s category defining two in one surface Pro line that combines tablet portability and laptop performance. A secured core PC will look at the Silicon choices from the 12th gen Intel processors with Intel Evo for workstation class power to the arm based Microsoft SQL three, powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon with 5G for superior mobility and performance on the go. And to take us through our engineering deep dive, we’re joined once again by Dave Mitchell who leads the Surface Pro Engineering team. Welcome back to Mechanics.

 

Dave Mitchell:
Thanks Jeremy. I’m really excited to be back and representing the team. This is a milestone year for us in Surface

 

Jeremy Chapman:
And this is actually the 10th anniversary of what’s become the iconic Surface Proline, which really was the start of Microsoft’s entry into the PC marketplace.

 

Dave Mitchell:
You know, it’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since we introduced our first surface, the original tune in one.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
And as someone’s been on the team for a good part of that journey, you know, as a first of its kind, how would you rate the influence then Surface Pro has had on the rest of the surface line?

 

Dave Mitchell:
Well, from its inception we focus on delivering premium iconic devices and experiences while innovating on form factors. The craftsmanship that went into the original Surface Pro is evident across our broad portfolio today from the fit and finish to the sophisticated hinges in every one of our devices to the three, two aspect ratio of our pixel sense displays that are touch pen and ink enabled. And as a first party PC manufacturer, we’ve also helped drive a number of enhancements across the company to deliver the best Microsoft 365 experiences on surface devices. And of course, if we can provide a tested foundation to the rest of the Windows ecosystem to innovate further, that’s our way of paying things forward.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
I notice you brought a lot of nostalgia with you on the desk in front of you today.

 

Dave Mitchell:
I have given it’s our 10 year anniversary, I thought we would reminisce a bit. I have in front of me a Surface Pro three a Surface Pro X and a Surface Pro nine with 5g. We’ve definitely come a long way since it all started with the very first Surface two in one prototype that was built using poly jetts and duct tape that gave birth to our iconic two in one design, which launched a new category 10 years ago with original Surface Pro. Next is the Surface Pro three, which is when we first introduced our signature three two screen aspect ratio, which maximizes screen real estate for productivity surface. Pro X was our next major update to the iconic design and centered around our custom arm silicon. In partnership with Qualcomm, we made the bezels thinner and introduced our current modern design with the new 13 inch pixel sense display along with the best in class gigabit LTE connectivity. Surface Pro Eight picked up the design last year matching the new fluid UI design of Windows 11.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
So the Surface Pro Eight then set the path really for the latest Surface Pro. In fact, I happen to have the Intel model in front of me right here and it’s also the start of a material shift to aluminum with the Proline.

 

Dave Mitchell:
Yes, and the shift has allowed us to introduce a couple of new colors in addition to platinum and graphite. We now have Sapphire and forest available for our wifi models and to match our new device colors. We have two new Surface Pro signature keyboard colors as well.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
You know, and of course one of the key reasons that you see this commitment to consistency of design is to retain the compatibility with accessories, including the pen, the surface dock, and much more.

 

Dave Mitchell:
Maintaining consistency of design and compatibility with accessories is an important factor for sure. The design shift, which started with the Pro Eight, really set the foundation for the current Pro nine and what this means for Surface Pro nine specifically is that we have been able to build a common architecture of the device for two very different processor platforms, both sharing the same core design and components. One with the latest Intel 12th gen core I five and I seven processors, which brings powerful desktop like performance and another for our Microsoft SQ three powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon in optimized for mobility and battery life. Both platforms use the same 47.7 WA hour battery delivering up to 15.5 hours of battery life on Intel and up to 19 hours of battery life on Arm, the most yet in a Surface Pro.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
Okay, so why don’t we dig into the specifics of the flavors of each

 

Dave Mitchell:
Device. Sounds good. Starting with the Surface Pro Nine with Intel Evo that you have in front of you Jeremy, you have that your choice of Intel’s 12th gen core I five or I seven U series processors both have 10 asymmetric cores, two high performance and AI efficiency cores with the option of up to 32 gigs of memory and one terabyte of storage. It supports wifi 60 and Bluetooth 5.1. Moving to the outside of the device, you’ll notice that there are two USBC Thunderbolt four ports that support up to 40 gigabits for second data transfer. Then they can drive two 4K displays at 60 hertz and the builtin 13 inch pixel sense display is beautiful with its wide color gamut, HDR support and Doby vision. It has twenty eight eighty by 1920 resolution and supports up to 120 Hertz dynamic refresh rate. The touch and natural inking experience using the Surface LI Pen two with tactile signals is best in class. It is by far the most powerful surface pro to date with great performance. Whether you’re running heavier workloads like a design application or lighter ones like Microsoft 365 apps, the core I five model is 60% faster and the core I seven model 50% faster than previous generation Surface Pro.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
So you get all the performance then with the latest 12th gen intel core processors, great ports and connectivity and also faster wireless connection speeds.

 

Dave Mitchell:
Exactly. And for today’s ultra mobile demands of the hybrid and mobile workforce, fast connectivity is a core theme for Surface Pro. Nine 10 years ago we introduced our first Surface two and one PC. On this anniversary we’re introducing our first Surface two in one PC with 5g. The basis for the Surface Pro nine with 5G is the Intel based version discussed earlier, but powered by Microsoft S Q three arm processor developed in partnership with Qualcomm. The 5G version has added nano molded antenna slots along the perimeter and on the right side for one of its millimeter wave modules. The rest of the exterior profile and geometry looks identical at casual glance, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that unlike the Intel model, Surface Pro nine with 5G doesn’t have any perimeter venting. As with the surface prox, we use passive cooling on the ARM device, which delivers great performance at lower thermals and runs whisper quiet.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
And it supports the gamut of mobile working scenarios.

 

Dave Mitchell:
It does in Surface Pro Nine with 5G lights up so many mobile use cases, it can be configured with up to 16 gigabytes RAM and up to 512 gigabytes of storage in addition to 5g. It also supports wifi 60 and Bluetooth 5.1 surface Pro oh nine with Microsoft SQ three powered by Qualcomm. Snapdragon is also our most powerful surface pro with arm to date, it is up to 80% faster CPU and up to 70% faster GPU than the previous generation. In addition to the improved CPU and gpu, Microsoft S Q three also has the most powerful npu built for Windows to date. It is capable of up to 15 trillion operations per second.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
And this all works with the capabilities in Windows Studio effects and Windows 11, which are designed to take advantage of the npu on that device. So how does this translate then to the experience in Surface Pro nine?

 

Dave Mitchell:
Surface Pro nine with 5g combined with the latest Windows 11 20 22 update has a number of new NPU offloaded algorithms within the new Windows Studio effects pack. Let me walk you through just a few of my personal favorites. As we spend time on video calls, we of course want to look and sound our best and while applications today can add background blur, they can consume precious CPU cycles to render the effect using Surface Pro Nine. With 5g you can take advantage of the new portrait blur effect like you’re seeing here with Sheila from our Surface team. This becomes a Windows system wide global offload to the NPU for any application using a video feed. Notice how clean the background segmentation and Boca effects are almost as if captured from a DSLR camera.

 

Jeremy Chapman:
And by offloading all these processes, then on the npu, the CPU and GPU then are not being taxed and can handle other system and application tasks

 

Dave Mitchell:
Exactly to achieve this level of effect quality. Using just the CPU alone, it would consume a hundred percent of the best processor in market today. Another effect that NPU enables is automatic framing. Like Sheila here I like to get up and walk around during video calls. As you can see here with automatic framing, the face detection, panning and cropping algorithms work effortlessly to keep Sheila perfectly in frame and beyond looking great. The npu with Windows Studio effects also ensures that you not your environment are picked up by the studio mics and shared with meaning participants when you come off mute. Thanks to Voice Focus, let’s watch as Sheila demonstrates voice focus in action.

 

Speaker 3:
Notice as I’m talking that the sound around me is picking up, there’s a fan running, there’s people chatting, there’s someone on a conference call with one click of our voice focus feature. All of that sound disappears and all you can hear is the sound of my voice.

 

Dave Mitchell:
What’s truly great here is that you can run all of the Windows Studio effects concurrently on the new Surface Pro nine with 5g. For me, this has become my favorite Surface Pro to date and is currently my daily driver

 

Jeremy Chapman:
And those updates from the NPO are gonna be great additions for teams calls and hybrid work. You know, it’s something else that’s always top of mind is security and data protection. So can we go a bit deeper into the security updates for Surface Pro

 

Dave Mitchell:
Nine? I’d love to. Security is such an important topic. All models of Surface Pro Nine are secured core PCs with the highest level of data protection from the silicon to the firmware. The Intel models use a new certified approach called firmware attack surface reduction or phaser. This is similar to Dynamic Root of Trust for measurement or Dr. Rtm, which is used for s Q three devices. This measures processes and hardware components during boot to protect the initial phases of the boot process. And these work together with Secure Boot and Trusted Boot so that the entire boot process is protected. Additionally, the ARM models also use a new Microsoft Pluton processor to provide enhanced protection for credentials, encryption, keys and personal data. These protection measures work even if an attacker has physical access to the device. And

 

Jeremy Chapman:
These are gonna stop some of the more sophisticated attack techniques like speculative execution side channel attacks. And I know a lot of device admins are watching this. So just to highlight a couple more things here, like the rest of the Surface family, you can manage your surface pronoun devices right from the Surface Management portal and in tune where you also have built in controls for managing 5G configurations with the SQ models. And you can centrally manage device firmware controls to enable or disable hardware components. So with this generation of devices, by the way, there’s a lot more granularity of control. Now, Dave, beyond the manageability, you know, serviceability of hardware is also a core theme for Surface. So what’s new there?

 

Dave Mitchell:
Serviceability is definitely an important element of the design process in surface with Surface Pro nine. We’ve made it the most serviceable yet authorized service technicians can now easily remove or replace internal batteries, the motherboard and thermal modules in addition to the display ssd, kickstand, and a number of other field repair units. This

 

Jeremy Chapman:
Is gonna be really welcome news I think for a lot of people watching. But why don’t we briefly switch gears though because you know beyond the updates to the Surface Pro line, we also announced a few more surface device updates. We

 

Dave Mitchell:
Sure did. We’ve also updated the popular Surface Studio and Surface Laptop First. The Surface Studio Two Plus with its amazing 28 inch three two pixel sense display and iconic zero gravity hinges has been updated to an Intel 11th gen core I seven HG processor, along with a discreet Invidia GE Force RTX 30 60 gpu. There are now three USBC Thunderbolt four ports and a pair of U S B A 10 gigabit ports. And for those of you who who are looking forward to an updated surface laptop, the all new Surface Laptop five is also powered by Intel 12th Gen Core I five and I seven processors with a SBC Thunderbolt four port and a S B A 10 gigabit port along with the new sage color as with Surface Pro nine models, all Surface Studio Two Plus and Surface Laptop five models are Windows 11 secured Cord PCs making the entire new lineup perfect for

 

Jeremy Chapman:
Work. And these are great updates to the Surface Pro lineup. So thanks so much, Dave for joining us today and really sharing your journey on the 10th anniversary of Surface Pro and also showcasing the updates to Surface Pro nine.

 

Dave Mitchell:
My pleasure. Thanks for having me again, Jeremy. These past 10 years have been an incredible journey for Surface and our customers. We’re looking forward to introducing new products and innovation for the next 10 years to come

 

Jeremy Chapman:
And there are even more updates that we didn’t have time to cover today. So to get all the news and learn more checkout surface.com/business. And don’t forget to subscribe to Microsoft Mechanics for all latest updates. And as always, thanks so much for watching.

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