Three years ago, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon 8cx processor for laptops running Windows on ARM. After that, the progress in this field was not impressive. There are a few versions of Snapdragon 8cx over the years, including the Microsoft S1, SQ2, and Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2. Those were just a tweaked chip with slightly higher clock speeds.
Now Qualcomm has unveiled new desktop processors, Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3. The new chips were introduced at the annual Snapdragon Technology Summit.
Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3
The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is the new flagship chip will deliver up to 85% faster performance in CPU cores and up to 60% in GPU performance when compared to Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2. It is also the first processor for devices with Windows on ARM built using a 5nm process technology.
The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 includes four Cortex-X1 based Kryo cores and four Cortex-A78 based cores. Unlike smartphone chips, it doesn't use the latest Cortex-X2 cores due to the slowness of the PC market. The fact is that OEMs start working with chips long before their official announcement. In some cases, companies receive engineering samples 18 months before a new item is released to the market. The Cortex-X2 cores has become available only in May 2021, which was too late.
The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 AI performance is 29 TOPS, three times better than its predecessor.
However, the new chip does not have a built-in 5G modem, which may be due to an attempt to reduce the cost of laptops. Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 can be paired with Snapdragon X62 (up to 4.4 Gbps), Snapdragon X55 (up to 7.5 Gbps) and Snapdragon X65 (up to 10 Gbps) modems.
Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3
As with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 is completely redesigned from its predecessor. Qualcomm says the the new chip can be compared to the Intel Pentium, while the previous Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 unit is more like an Intel Celeron.
There is not as much information to learn about the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 chip. It is known to be manufactured in a 6nm process and will offer 60% faster processor cores and 70% faster GPU performance than the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 unit.
The key improvements include four Kryo cores based on Cortex-A78 and four cores based on Cortex-A55. The performance in AI operations was 6.5 TOPS, which is quite good for affordable notebooks.
Competing with Apple
Earlier this year, Qualcomm acquired Nuvia, whose technology will help the company compete with Apple's Silicon processors. The new technologies will be included in chips in 2023, which means that the announcement of chips that can compete with Apple M1 can be expected at the end of 2022 at the Snapdragon Technology Summit.
The first Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 devices will go on sale in the first half of 2022.
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