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Qualcomm announces Snapdragon X Plus chip to power laptops

Qualcomm recently announced the upcoming release of its Snapdragon X Plus laptop processor, along with additional details about its previously introduced Snapdragon X Elite chips. Although Qualcomm processors have been used in laptops before, this marks the first instance where the company might have a chip that can match the speed of those from Apple, Intel, and AMD.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Plus is their basic laptop chip, boasting 10 cores, 42MB of cache, and a maximum multithreaded frequency of 3.4GHz. It also features an NPU capable of handling 45 tera operations per second (TOPS) to support advanced generative AI applications. However, it’s important to note that TOPS is a somewhat arbitrary metric, as it doesn’t always reflect the complexity or significance of the calculations being performed.

Additionally, the Snapdragon X Plus supports LPDDR5x memory with a maximum transfer rate of 8448 MT/s and comes equipped with a 3.8 teraflop (TFLOP) integrated Adreno GPU.

The chipmaker is rolling out three twelve-core Snapdragon X Elite processors, boasting a maximum multithreaded frequency of up to 3.8GHz and an integrated GPU (iGPU) offering up to 4.6 TFLOP. All three versions come with the same NPU and support memory at the same speed as the Snapdragon X Plus.

The top two SKUs feature what Qualcomm dubs Dual-Core Boost, reaching speeds of up to 4.2GHz, which is reminiscent of Intel’s Turbo Boost or AMD’s Turbo Core. These functionalities adjust the processor frequency on the fly, providing extra power to the processor only when necessary.

What’s notable about these Arm processors is their lack of a hybrid architecture like Apple Silicon and Intel’s chips. Unlike those chips, which split their cores into performance and efficiency categories, these processors don’t follow that model. Apple and Intel have praised this design for its ability to lower power usage and extend battery life, which it certainly does.

However according to Qualcomm, all of its Snapdragon cores are considered “performance cores,” and they argue that they outperform Apple, Intel, and AMD in terms of performance, power efficiency, and battery life. They also claim that PC games should run smoothly with Windows on Arm, even when using emulation.

Apple has shown that using an Arm-based SoC in a laptop can significantly boost battery life, reduce power usage, and keep things cooler compared to Intel and AMD’s x86 processors. However, Windows laptops come in all sorts of unique shapes and sizes that would really benefit from a chip that can rival Apple Silicon in terms of power, performance, and temperature management.

Their real promise lies in nurturing the budding ideas of dual-screen and foldable laptops, helping them flourish into a thriving ecosystem. Microsoft has faced challenges in creating Windows Arm laptops that truly captivate consumers.