Snapdragon chips can be found not only in expensive flagship smartphones. There is a whole portfolio of processors designed for phones in various price ranges. Performance and features vary somewhat between these models, so let’s figure out how to compare the company’s latest SoCs and what capabilities to expect.
Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3; First 5nm Chip for Windows-Based Arm Laptops
Qualcomm and Microsoft made several unsuccessful attempts to integrate ARM processors in Windows laptops, but the concept never developed until Apple was fed up with Intel’s incompetence and developed M1 ARM-based silicon for its laptops. However, Qualcomm is not over yet. The mobile chip maker has just announced the latest Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 computing platform. It is the first ARM-based chipset for Windows laptops to be manufactured using 5nm lithography.
The original Snapdragon 8cx and the subsequent Gen 2 variant were 7nm parts, making the latest Gen 3 update theoretically more energy efficient than its predecessors. This is an important distinction in the class of devices for which it is intended – Always On, Always Connected Computers. These devices combine the power and functionality of full-fledged laptops with the portability, connectivity, energy efficiency and battery life of smartphones.
Node Shrink Promises Vastly Improved Performance
Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is a premium product in Qualcomm’s repertoire, designed for always active, always connected devices. The new SoC is advertised as delivering a whopping 85 percent increase in multi-core performance over its Gen 2 predecessor, which is not surprising given the energy efficiency gains associated with such a reduction in the production node. It is also advertised that the GPU provides a 60 percent improvement.
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Higher energy efficiency after node reduction can be used to extend battery life and simplify cooling or increase efficiency to achieve the same thermal and power constraints as before. Qualcomm has clearly chosen the latter given the huge (alleged) increase in performance. Not surprisingly, the increased performance margins per watt now allow the chip to target 120fps gameplay in Full HD resolution. These performance predictions are to be achieved on the same fanless PC configurations.
no laptop manufacturer announced specific devices at the launch of the 8cx Gen 3, but Acer, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft appeared at launch to pinpoint products on the way, and Samsung and Asus logos appeared on the Qualcomm partnership celebration slide.
What you need to know
- Qualcomm expects the next-gen ARM processor to rival Apple’s M-series, ready in 2022 and shipped in 2023.
- Qualcomm bought Nuvia, whose members lead Apple’s chip development, in January 2021.
- The message comes from the Qualcomm Investor’s Day event.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm cut $ 400.4 billion to purchase Nuvia, which designed ARM-based mobile processors. What made the acquisition so significant is the fact that the founders of Nuvia are the same people who led the development of Apple’s famous A processors leading to the mighty M1 for laptops.
Now Qualcomm is starting to sag a bit at an investor event where the company advertised that it was well on its way to releasing its “next-gen shoulder-compatible processor designed by the Nuvia team,” according to PCMag.
The newly designed chips are expected to hit hardware customers (i.e. PC OEMs) in 2022 (nine months to be precise) to prepare them for commercial launch in 2023 on new Windows computers. Qualcomm notes that these chips are “designed to set the benchmark in performance for Windows PCs” and will be “a competitive M Series solution for PCs.”
This is not the first time Qualcomm has touted Nuvia’s talent. The company boasted in July that it could beat the M1 chip from Apple.
The Nuvia-designed Qualcomm chip will depart from the Arm-licensed architectures currently used in the Snapdragon series. However, Qualcomm also has the best of both worlds. As noted in Reuters, if Arm Ltd designs an even better chip, Qualcomm can still license it (as it has in the past) and go this route as well.
While the current Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 is a decent offering for the Windows world, it pales in comparison to Apple’s M1 in terms of power and performance. Qualcomm, however, seems ready to take it to the next level with real devices in the hands of consumers by 2023, assuming there will be no delays.
Qualcomm is expected to have newer processors arriving on Windows PCs in 2022, meanwhile the company is gearing up for the annual December Snapdragon Summer event. However, it is not clear whether these will be minor refreshes or a transition to the more powerful Cortex-A78c.
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The Adreno GPU has also been overhauled, achieving 60% better performance than last year. With support for 120Hz displays, it can even run games at up to 120fps, and Qualcomm says it can hit those frames per second as long as you stick to Full HD – though it’s unclear in which games managed to achieve this.