IF YOU HAVE a Windows laptop right now, the chances are that you have either Intel or AMD to thank for its processing power. Now Qualcomm - makers of the vast majority of Android smartphone processors - are coming after the Windows laptop market with the Snapdragon 8cx. And we think the ‘x' stands for ‘extreme' in a toe-curlingly bad piece of branding.
To be clear, Qualcomm has made chips for laptops before, but they've tended to be a little off the pace. Laptops powered by the Snapdragon 835 appeared sluggish compared to their Intel counterparts, and the 850 doesn't look that much more promising from benchmark tests.
The 8cx could be a different beast altogether though. For starters, Qualcomm has gone and beaten Intel to releasing a 7nm chip, which is quite a coup. For seconds, it's Qualcomm's biggest chip yet (which makes sense, given it's designed to go in a laptop rather than a phone), and the company says it's the biggest performance leap a Snapdragon has ever had. In a world of diminishing returns, that's quite a claim.
What does that mean in practice? Well, it has "double" the GPU performance of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850, and around 3.5x that of the 835. Perhaps most promisingly of all, as The Verge notes it, Qualcomm is promising the performance of an Intel U-series processor with less than half the power draw: just seven watts. Combine that with the fact that the Snapdragon 8cx should play nice with up to 16GB RAM and you've got something that could really be a game changer in the always-on laptop space.
Or of course, it might not. We'll just have to see when the first laptops powered by the chip emerge in Q3 2019. The promise is there, mind, and that's probably enough to give some Intel executives a fair few sleepless nights throughout Q1 and Q2. µ
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