The CPU market has been seeing somewhat of a revolution as of late, courtesy of AMD and their new Zen based Ryzen processors. Now, it seems Qualcomm will be joining the two rivals in the consumer CPU market with a new chip of their own, the Snapdragon 8cx.
The Snapdragon 8cx is a 7nm based processor that continues Qualcomm’s Always Connected PC (ACPC) lineup. As per the company, the 8cx won’t be replacing the already existing S835 and s850, but will sit on top of the latter as the new ACPC flagship.
Till now Qualcomm’s chips that ran Windows leveraged a combination of patches from Microsoft and Qualcomm’s partners along with an emulation interface (multiple emulation software running in parallel). As such, for the most part applications are dependent on translation of the code at the machine level. And the easiest way to boost that is by throwing in a more beefy processor into the device powering it. That is precisely what the Snapdragon 8cx is about.
Under the hood, the 8cx packs the company’s Kryo 495 cores with variable frequencies and TDPs. The Kryo 495 are most likely based on ARM’s A76 architecture with some modifications for better scalability and the SoC as a whole includes 10MB of cache.
Qualcomm is pairing the Kryo cores with a new GPU, the Adreno 680. There are no solid metrics available at present, but as per Qualcomm, the Adreno 680 is going to be twice as powerful as the SD 850 and 3.5x faster than the SD 835. The 680 includes support for Vulkan 1.1 and Microsoft’s DirectX 12 APIs, full VP9 and H.265 decode, a ‘high efficiency’ video encoder, as well as dual 4K HDR external display compatibility.
Qualcomm is calling the Adreno 680 the fastest GPU and the Kryo 495 cores the most powerful Kryo cores the company has ever made.
The Snapdragon 8cx will include support for both UFS 3.0 and NVMe-based SSDs, and OEMs will also have the option to add custom drives using a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot. One of the biggest issues with Qualcomm’s past ACPCs was the limited bandwidth. The company has addressed that in a rather brute-force fashion by doubling it. However, unlike conventional chips, the 8cx will have four 16-bit channels to result in a 128 bit wide bus. The SoC will support upto 16 GB of LPDDR4 RAM.
The new chip also has an integrated modem in the form of the Snapdragon X24 LTE. It supports download speeds of up to 2 Gbps using LTE connectivity. Peak upload speed is pegged at 316 Mbps and it will also support 5G when the X50 modem is paired with it.
Power consumption was a major highlight of Qualcomm’s event, and a TDP of 7W indeed sounds impressive. Comparatively most ultrabooks sport 15W processors. The company announced complete support for Windows 10 Enterprise edition which is no surprise given that Qualcomm is targeting that very market with the ACPC based PCs.
Qualcomm had a sample PC running the Snapdragon 8cx, although there’s no word on the vendor. The company seems to be working on multiple fronts to develop natively run apps for the chip. Qualcomm invited Microsoft and Symantec to the keynote to highlight this and further pointed out that it is working extensively with Firefox for a tailor-made experience.
Right now, it is too early to say anything for certain about the Snapdragon 8cx. Qualcomm was very specific with the information and metric it shared regarding the chip’s architecture and performance. That means this is still a prototype and it’ll probably take a while before we see large-spread adoption by popular OEMs.
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