Home Health Windows on ARM, Qualcomm tries again with the 8CX Gen 3 chip

Windows on ARM, Qualcomm tries again with the 8CX Gen 3 chip

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Qualcomm unveiled the next generation of its Snapdragon 8cx laptop chips. It is the successor to the 8cx Gen 2 chip introduced last year, and is the first ARM architecture chip for Windows PCs made with a 5nm process, like the Apple M1.
Compared to the 2020 platform, the new component improves the performance of the CPU by 85% and that of the graphics sector by 60%.

According to Qualcomm, the 8cx Gen 3 offers a performance level per Watt that is 60% higher than the corresponding x86 (i.e. Intel) platform. The problem is that the company doesn’t exactly disclose which competitor chip it is referring to. Few details also on battery life, referred to as “multi-day”. A very generic definition that can mean three days or a day and a half.


More power for photos and games: the promises of the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip

One of the competitive advantages of the Qualcomm chip is compatibility with the company’s excellent integrated 5G modems. In final configurations, Windows PCs running the 8cx Gen 3 will also be able to implement X55, X62 or X65 modems. The final choice, as in the case of Android smartphones, is up to the manufacturer, who can choose the most suitable solution for the range and final price of the product.

Despite the technical improvements, the new Qualcomm chip does not seem to have the momentum necessary to break the deadlock in which the solutions for Windows PC on ARM find themselves.
The San Diego-based company had announced its first chips for the Microsoft operating system as early as 2018. The PCs of the manufacturers that had implemented them, however, had in no way convinced the users. The excellent battery life and mobile connectivity (LTE in that case) were offset by poor performance, particularly in the case of x86 applications emulated by the system.

Later versions of the chip have improved performance, but never really convincing manufacturers and partners, but especially developers. In fact, more than three years after Qualcomm’s first moves in the field of chips for Windows on ARM, native apps are still in short supply. Out of scale, in this sense, a comparison with Apple’s ARM M1 chip. Unveiled in December 2020, it immediately showed a drastic leap in performance over its Intel competition. The M1 Pro and M1 Max models introduced in October then allowed the Cupertino company, just 10 months after the launch of the first chip, to bring the most powerful MacBook Pro ever to the market.

Despite the presentation alongside the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 for Android smartphones (super chip that we will see on all the major flagships in 2022), the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 appears more like a forced and somewhat unconvinced evolutionary step, waiting for a completely new ARM platform which Qualcomm has announced the launch for 2023.
Little is known about the chip, except that the company’s expectations are extremely high. The development of the “next gen” platform is headed by the team acquired with the startup Nuvia, bought by Qualcomm at the beginning of 2021 for 1.4 billion dollars and founded in 2019 by three former engineers of Apple’s hardware team. What they did in Cupertino before starting their own business is no mystery: they were involved in the development of the A series chips, those of the iPhones and iPads from which the M chips of the new Macs derive.


Qualcomm and the notebook: today it is more like a smartphone than a computer

by Icilio Bellanima


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