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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx for PCs aims to overcome the performance gap

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Qualcomm’s efforts to put its Snapdragon chips into PCs have historically run into one major obstacle: The performance simply isn’t competitive with that of chips from Intel and AMD. Now Qualcomm is trying again, with what it’s calling an “extreme” version of the Snapdragon: the Snapdragon 8cx. 

Qualcomm’s promising that the 8cx will offer the equivalent performance of the competition’s 15-watt processor offerings—though it’s not saying which one. (Intel’s U-series Core chips consume 15 watts.) At the same time, Qualcomm is promising more of its traditional strength: an incredible 25 hours of battery life, plus support for niceties like LPDDR4X memory, NVMe SSDs, USB 3.1, and four PCI Express lanes. There’s Qualcomm QuickCharge, too.

Executives said that the company has already designed the Snapdragon 835 and 845 for PCs and isn’t abandoning the old design. The 8cx has been on the roadmap for some time, however, and is a separate effort, designed from the ground up for PCs. 

Like the Snapdragon 855, the 8cx is built on a 7nm process. That’s certainly an advantage AMD and Intel can’t offer.

Qualcomm Snpdragon 8cx Mark Hachman / IDG

Snapdragons, fast and furious

Qualcomm executives freely admit that they’ve had to build an ecosystem from essentially nothing, fixing things and educating consumers on what an Always Connected PC means. After shipping the Snapdragon 835 into PCs like the Asus NovaGo in April 2018, Qualcomm followed up with the Snapdragon 850 in the Galaxy Book 2 in October. Major carriers like Verizon are now selling the Galaxy Book 2 in their stores, and another Snapdragon 850 PC, the Yoga C630, is selling in Best Buy.

Now it’s December, and there’s another Snapdragon for PCs, the 8cx. While the 8cx is many months away—expected to ship in devices during the third quarter of 2019—Qualcomm is essentially releasing three separate Snapdragon chips for PCs in about a year’s time. The 8cx will coexist alongside the Snapdragon 850 as a new, premium tier, senior director of products management Miguel Nunes said Thursday.

Apparently, the chips will just keep coming. “These super Snapdragons are going to keep rolling out stronger and stronger—relentlessly,” Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Technologies, said.

snapdragon 8cx block diagram Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx consists of three major cores: the Kryo CPU, the Adreno GPU, and the Hexagon DSP.

Ready to take on Intel’s Core, yet again

The meat of the new Snapdragon 8cx is in the CPU and the GPU—the Kryo 495 and the Adreno 680, respectively.

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