During the Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018 in Hawaii, the smartphone chipmaker unveiled a new silicon with the name Snapdragon 8cx. This time, Qualcomm made it clear that this new chip is built specifically from the ground up for PCs, unlike the previous generation streamlined mobile computing chips like the Snapdragon 850. The announcement of the Snapdragon 8cx could probably pose a threat to Intel who has been struggling in recent years.
Let’s get all the specs of the chip out here. On paper, the Snapdragon 8cx boasts a 7nm architecture process for this chip, beating Intel at its own game as the company has seen challenges in transitioning from 14nm to 10nm. As a result, its Kyro 495 CPU should see some significant performance upgrade like better multitasking since the processor can cram more transistors which translates to better performance. In fact, Qualcomm claims it has larger memory cache than previous generations, a total of 10MB cache. In comparison to Intel chips, the Snapdragon 8cx is said to have similar performance to a 15-watt Intel U-series processor, but drawing less power with only 7 watts. It also supports up to 16GB LPDDR4x RAM, NVMe SSDs, Gen 2 USB-C 3.1 and Quick Charge 4+.
Not to mention the Adreno 680 Extreme GPU is 60% more power efficient than the Snapdragon 850, and when coupled with the efficiency of the octa-core CPU, the battery life is expected to be longer as well. In fact, Qualcomm only mentioned that the chip can achieve ‘multi-day battery life’ as this mainly depends on the device itself. The Adreno 680 can also support 2 4K HDR external monitors, the latest H.265 video codec and 2nd-generation HDR support for real-time color correction. Not only that, using its entirely new X24 LTE modem, it can enable download speeds of up to 2Gbps and generally better cellular connectivity for the ‘Always-Connected’ platform.
If you are wondering why Qualcomm made a chip for PCs, it’s because they are well on track to making ‘Always-Connected’ computers a viable option for consumers. Qualcomm has been making efforts in pushing streamlined versions of their mobile computing chips to PCs but the Snapdragon 835 and 850 had proven to be futile attempts as the chips were meant for mobile applications. Intel clearly had the win as the ARM-based architecture cannot compete with Intel which is primarily built for the native x86 Windows operating system.
That said, the Snapdragon 8cx is a completely rebuilt chip for PCs which claims it can handle real-world multitasking and productivity tasks. As much as it seems like a huge rival to Intel chips, the caveat here is that Windows applications need to be recompiled into 64-bit ARM versions for the right compatibility. Performance-wise, we will have to wait at least until early 2019 before any PC manufacturers start using this chip in their devices. As far as we can estimate, CES 2019 could probably feature several laptops with this new processor.