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Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx: the real rival to Intel for the PC

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx: the real rival to Intel for the PC

Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8cx is a very, very big deal... as it will face Intel for the hot seat in the Windows market.

@anthony256
Published Thu, Dec 20 2018 10:00 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Jun 16 2020 4:31 PM CDT

Introduction

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Qualcomm hosted over 300 press and analysts in Maui, Hawaii last week for the annual Snapdragon Summit, an event where all things Snapdragon are discussed and new chips, products, and partnerships are unveiled.

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The company unveiled its new Snapdragon 855 processor at the event, with 5G technology infused but also unveiled something surprising: the new Snapdragon 8cx.

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By its name alone it might not sound like much, but Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8cx is a step in the right direction for a much bigger fight than people can see right now: domination against Intel in the laptop market. Qualcomm has been pushing its Always On, Always Connected PCs that will mark one of the largest shifts in the laptop market, ever.

You might not believe that statement, but just on battery life alone we're being promised in excess of 20 hours of battery life, which is something no Intel-powered laptop is capable of.

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The new Snapdragon 8cx is made up of a bunch of smaller parts that make up the craziest SoC ever announced. We have the new Adreno 680 GPU which is better than ever, the Kryo 495 CPU, and Hexagon 690 DSP. Qualcomm has included the Snapdragon X24 modem which is capable of delivering up to 2Gbps over LTE (yes, 2Gbps!) while we have the Spectra 390 ISP, the usual high-end Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and Qualcomm's own Processor Security.

All-in-all, the Snapdragon 8cx is an amazing mix of technologies and power, ready to rock the worlds of the laptop and Windows 10 tablet markets.

Snapdragon 8cx: CPU & GPU

CPU

Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8cx SoC is the first 7nm processor to be released for laptops and Windows tablets, with it packing an 8-core Kryo 495. Intel is still stuck on 14nm and has all but abandoned its 10nm process, while AMD will hit the market with a 7nm processor in 2019.

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The new Kyro 495 makes the Snapdragon 8cx the "fastest Snapdragon ever" according to Qualcomm, thanks to the 7nm node and the constant improvements the San Diego-based chip giant continues to make to Snapdragon. There's more system cache and L3 cache than previous-gen Snapdragon processors, with 10MB of cache on the Snapdragon 8cx.

GPU

Qualcomm wasn't as open with the CPU as it was with the GPU for the new Snapdragon 8cx, so the details on the Adreno 680 are much better. We know that the new Snapdragon 8cx and its Adreno 680 GPU provides a huge 2x improvement over the previous Always On, Always Connected laptops from Qualcomm that are using the Snapdragon 850, and ad huge 3.5x jump over the Snapdragon 835.

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Qualcomm has bragging rights when it comes to battery life, with an impressive 60% more power efficient Adreno 680 GPU over the Snapdragon 850 and its Adreno 630 graphics. There are twice as many transistors and twice as much memory bandwidth in the Adreno 680, support for DirectX 12, a high efficiency video decoder as well as VP9 and H.265 decoder.

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The new Snapdragon 8cx powered laptops and tablets will usher in something not previously done before on an SoC: dual 4K HDR external monitor support. So you won't just be rocking a new laptop that has insane battery life, but you can use it as a workstation with dual 4K HDR-capable monitors plugged into it. Impressive stuff, to say the least.

Snapdragon 8cx: Connectivity & Battery Life

Battery Life

This is where Qualcomm is the undeniable leader: an area where Intel can't touch them in the forseeable future, without some time travel or magic involved. Qualcomm will see over 20 hours of battery life with Snapdragon 8cx-powered laptops running Windows 10... not Android.

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The new Snapdragon 8cx offers up multi-day battery life, with Qualcomm promising an insane 25+ hours of "premium computing". Even if you run out of charge or get below 50% the new Snapdragon 8cx has Quick Charge 4+ technology.

Connectivity

This is one area where Qualcomm continues to kill it, and the new Snapdragon 8cx is no exception. The company is using its impressive Snapdragon X24 LTE modem which ushers in up to 2Gbps connectivity, something the competition can't come close to. Upload speeds are equally as impressive, with up to 316Mbps on offer with the Snapdragon X24 modem.

Qualcomm also promises improved speeds in poor network conditions, with up to 70% better speeds. It's not just breakneck speeds that is on offer here, but we have huge amounts of cellular connection protocols as well in GSM, CDMA, EV-DO and both LTE FDD and LTE TDD, and more.

Always On, Always Connected Is The Future Of Computing

You know what? The thing that excites me the most about the Always On, Always Connected PC push by Qualcomm? Because it'll be the largest change to the PC industry in forever. We've had constant updates and technological changes to notebooks, but we've never seen a drastic increase in battery life. This is mostly because of Intel, and AMD doesn't have the best offerings in the notebook world right now, leaving Qualcomm to come in and shake things around a little. And by a little, I mean a lot.

Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8cx on the other hand will take the Always On, Always Connected PC movement to the next level. Not only do we have kick ass performance per watt, but we have amazing 5G connectivity, and out-of-this-world battery life. Snapdragon 8cx offers something that literally no one else on the market can offer, even Chipzilla is standing by and while Intel has 5G, it's not here right now with it offering 20-25 hours of battery life in a notebook.

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2019 will be the year of dominance from Qualcomm, where it will offer multi-day laptops for businesses and enterprise, as well as users who don't need Core i7/i9 performance but want great CPU performance with amazing battery life. For someone like me, my 24-hour journey to the US every month or so would be much better with an ACPC with a Snapdragon 8cx inside.

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The fact that we'll have insane speeds from 5G inside of a new Snapdragon 8cx laptop in 2019 is amazing, as there won't be any competition for a little while at least. Qualcomm, a predominantly mobile company, coming into the PC industry and knocking over established giants in one fell swoop. Color me excited.

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Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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