Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 launched: First 5 nm Windows PC SoC with four Cortex-X1 cores at 3 GHz, 6 nm Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 announced too
For all the purported benefits offered by the Always On Always Connected (ACPC), or Windows-on-ARM (WoA), things didn't really take off on expected lines. The number of WoA laptops were few and far between — in fact, we could gather benchmark data for only two devices based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 in the whole of 2021.
While there are several factors responsible for this including the slow pace of Windows-on-ARM development, things weren't too great on the SoC side either. Now with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, Qualcomm hopes to turn things for the better.
Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3: 5 nm for Windows PCs
With the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, PCs are all set to get their first taste of the 5 nm architecture albeit on ARM. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is about 85% faster in CPU and 60% faster in GPU performance. The exact comparative parameters were not disclosed during the presentation, however.
The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is also slated to offer 29+ TOPS of AI performance. Once again, the comparisons aren't really obvious, but we can hazard a guess that this could be with respect to the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2.
Platform features: Four Cortex-X1 Prime cores and Snapdragon X65 5G
Unlike the Snapdragon 855 in smartphones, last year's Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 for PCs did not feature the Prime Core. It instead offered four Kryo 495 Cortex-A76 Gold cores at 3.15 GHz and four Kryo 495 Cortex-A55 Silver cores at 1.8 GHz.
This time, however, we are getting to know that the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 will offer four Cortex-X1 Prime cores clocked at 2.995 GHz and four Cortex-A78 cores at 2.4 GHz under load.
We noticed the same in our short hands-on with a pre-sample Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3-powered laptop running Windows 11 on ARM. The chip seems to be able to clock down to up to 0.72 GHz in idle.
The GPU side of the equation is still a bit of a mystery for now. Qualcomm isn't using any numerical nomenclature on the Adreno GPU, but the tall performance claims lead us to believe there could be substantial developments under the hood quite distinct from the previous generation.
The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 can be configured with up to a 10 Gbps Snapdragon X65 5G modem. OEMs can also choose to implement a Snapdragon X55 5G modem with speeds up to 7.5 Gbps or a Snapdragon X62 5G modem with speeds up to 4.4 Gbps.
The 8cx Gen 3 SoC also uses the FastConnect 6900 2x2 Wi-Fi system with support for Wi-Fi 6E up to 3.6 Gbps. Also on the anvil is an improved Spectra ISP that now supports Auto Focus, Auto White Balance, and Auto Exposure and up to 24 MP resolution along with Qualcomm's AI-accelerated AV suite.
All Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3-powered ACPCs will offer a multi-layered security infrastructure that includes a Qualcomm SPU-based Pluton TPM, Secured-core, and more.
Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 is launching as well
Apart from the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, Qualcomm is also launching the 6 nm Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3. The 7c+ Gen 3 essentially seems to be a refreshed 8cx Gen 2, which is probably why Qualcomm wasn't particularly showing any comparative numbers. It offers four Cortex-A73 cores at 2.4 GHz along with four Cortex-A55 cores at ~1.5 GHz.
Both the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 will be available in the laptops coming in H1 2022.