Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 SoC Will Run Next Gen Windows On Arm Laptops

In short: Qualcomm is offering two new chipsets for Windows laptops that are faster than their predecessors and combine 5G and Wi-Fi 6E support. The real star of the show was supposed to be a Nuvia-designed chipset that will compete with Apple’s M-series chipsets, but won’t make it into a real product until 2023.

The latest Qualcomm SoC for Windows laptops is now officialand it is called the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 computing platform. The name certainly sounds promising, but the company promises that this new chip will provide “extreme mobile computing that will provide more than just a laptop.”

The defining feature of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is connectivity, with Qualcomm offering OEMs the choice between Snapdragon X55, X62 or X65 5G modems, as well as Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E support. The company claims that the new chipset delivers 80 percent faster CPU performance and up to 60 percent faster GPU performance than its predecessor, which should allow for faster interactions when running both native and emulated applications.

Qualcomm’s senior director of product management, Miguel Nunez, explained that the 8cx is built on a 5nm process. The CPU is based on four 3GHz Arm Cortex-X1 “Prime” cores and four 2.4GHz Cortex-A78 “Efficiency” cores with a total cache of 14MB. Nunes claims this allows for 40 percent more single-threaded workloads and 85 percent more multi-threaded workloads over the 8cx Gen 2 SoC.

These improvements are accompanied by a more powerful Spectra ISP, which Qualcomm says will deliver better autofocus performance, auto white balance, auto exposure, and up to 4K HDR video capture. Along with suppressing audio noise and echo, this should improve the video conferencing experience on laptops equipped with the new chipset, provided that manufacturers do not reduce the cost of the webcam they integrate into their designs.

It’s worth noting that 8cx Gen 3 is just a temporary fix until Qualcomm can release its Nuvia-designed laptop chip, which is said to offer comparable value to Apple’s M-series chipsets. However, it will support Microsoft’s Pluton security chip, which will provide TPM functionality and make 8cx Gen 3 based laptops more attractive to government and educational customers.

In addition to the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, Qualcomm also unveiled the Snapdragon 7c + Gen 3 computing platform, which is built on a 6nm process. Compared to its predecessor, it will provide 60% faster CPU performance and up to 70% faster GPU performance, as well as 5G and Wi-Fi 6E connectivity. The company says we can expect to see the first laptops on the new chipsets sometime in the first half of 2022.

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