Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 7c and Snapdragon 8c, and Snapdragon 8cx for enterprise are built to power a range of Always On, Always Connected ARM PCs
Qualcomm is introducing a couple of new SoCs in its Snapdragon Compute Platform lineup to power Always On, Always Connected PCs aka Windows on ARM. The Snapdragon 8cx was announced last year and benchmarked during Computex 2019 on a Lenovo Project Limitless laptop. Today, we get to see the Snapdragon 7c and the Snapdragon 8c completing the portfolio alongside an enterprise version of the Snapdragon 8cx.
According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 7c lowers the entry point for ARM laptops and offers up to "25% boost in system performance and twice the battery life vs. competing platforms". It remains to be seen which competing platforms that Qualcomm is exactly alluding to here, but it is not hard to guess that the Snapdragon 7c is being pitted against low-end 15W Intel U-series offerings. The Snapdragon 7c features an octa-core Kryo 468 CPU and the Adreno 618 GPU along with the Snapdragon X15 LTE modem (no 5G support here). Overall, the Snapdragon 7c can offer up to 5 TOPS of AI performance to cater to the AI functionality built into Windows 10 and essentially looks to be a Snapdragon 730 variant designed for PCs.
The 7nm Snapdragon 8c stacks between the Snapdragon 850 and the Snapdragon 8cx. The Snapdragon 8c is touted to offer up to 30% better performance than the Snapdragon 850 along with 6 TOPS of AI performance. The Snapdragon 8c features a Kryo 490 CPU, an Adreno 675 GPU, and integrates the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem for multi-Gigabit connectivity on the go. OEMs have a choice of pairing the Snapdragon 8c SoC with a Snapdragon X55 5G modem as well.
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Snapdragon 8cx Enterprise Compute Platform
Qualcomm is now offering the Snapdragon 8cx for enterprises with the promise of optimized performance and enhanced security features. It remains to be seen how many OEMs will lap-up these ARM processors and the kind of performance we can expect compared to their 15W ULV Intel counterparts.
Qualcomm is still betting on ARM-powered PCs despite them not gaining the expected traction over the years. The Snapdragon 8cx, for example, was seen in the Microsoft Surface Pro X as a custom Microsoft SQ1 processor. The Samsung Galaxy Book S is the only other Snapdragon 8cx device in the market. However, we do expect quite a few OEMs (an ARM-powered Surface Go, perhaps?) to feature the Snapdragon 7c and 8c, and possibly even the 8cx in their laptop designs next year. The only limiting factors for wide adoption of these devices would be pricing and how Microsoft addresses app compatibility issues in Windows 10 on ARM or Windows 10X.
The competition is not taking it lightly, though. Intel has been focused on creating thin and light laptops with all-day battery life via Project Athena, and it is possible that such designs will make it to the lower rung of the segment as well. Recently, Intel revealed the Tremont architecture that will integrate with Lakefield CPUs and will be seen in upcoming devices such as the Microsoft Surface Neo. All this makes for an exciting 2020 and we cannot wait to take these devices for a spin.
Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit
Qualcomm Press Release