What just happened? Arm-based Windows laptops still aren't seen as a viable alternative to x86 machines in most people's eyes, but Qualcomm says its next SoC, the Snapdragon X, will mark an "inflection point for the PC industry." With claimed massive improvements in performance and efficiency, the Snapdragon X is being positioned as the PC's version of Apple's M-series chips.
Snapdragon X traces its roots back to Qualcomm's 2021 acquisition of chip startup Nuvia for $1.4 billion. The company was founded by former Apple engineers who had worked on Cupertino's A-series SoCs used in its iPhones and iPads.
Apple sued Nuvia co-founder and CEO Gerard Williams III in 2019 for poaching Apple employees. Last year, both Nuvia and Qualcomm were sued by Arm, which claimed a breach of license agreements and trademark infringement following the latter's acquisition of Nuvia.
The Snapdragon X branding will replace the Snapdragon 8cx series, a family whose flagship, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, was released back in 2021.
Qualcomm revealed virtually nothing about the Snapdragon X series beyond a teaser image with a tagline about the chips' arrival being "soon." However, it did confirm that the platform is based on the Oryon CPU technology from the Nuvia acquisition.
The Verge reports that the Snapdragon X chips will come with a neural processing unit made for on-device AI processing in small form factor devices. The feature is another hint that with these chips, Qualcomm is aiming squarely at Apple's M-series, which has its own version called a Neural Engine. The Snapdragon X series will also continue to feature 5G connectivity, something you won't find on M-series devices beyond the iPad.
Notebookcheck writes that earlier rumors indicate Qualcomm will initially release three Snapdragon X series processors to start with, codenamed SC8350, SC8370, and SC8380. They're thought to feature eight, ten, and twelve CPU cores, respectively, with the SC8380 expected to combine eight performance and four efficiency cores, much like the Apple M2 Max.
Expect to learn more at Snapdragon Summit, which takes place later this month.