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Qualcomm takes on Intel with fastest graphics processor, Snapdragon 8cx chips

Qualcomm debuted its next-generation system on chip (SoC) called the Snapdragon 8cx. It has a new, more powerful CPU core alongside its fastest graphics processor ever. Designed with PCs in mind, the new chip is built on a 7nm process, much like AMD’s expected Zen 2 CPUs and Navi GPUs, which are also expected to release in 2019.

“With performance and battery life as our design tenets, we’re bringing 7nm innovations to the PC space, allowing for smartphone-like capabilities to transform the computing experience,” Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mobile for Qualcomm Technologies Alex Katouzian said during Qualcomm’s annual technology summit. The 8cx is the fastest Snapdragon design ever created, he stated, suggesting that it would deliver PC-grade performance while offering portable devices “multi-day battery life,” in thin, fanless designs.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx combines a new octa-core Kryo 495 CPU with an Adreno 680 GPU on the same die. They offer better multi-tasking performance, as well as greater graphics memory bandwidth. Qualcomm says it’s Adreno 680 graphics are twice as powerful as its previous generation and 60 percent more efficient than the GPU in the Snapdragon 850. The design has also been certified for Windows 10 Enterprise — a first for a Snapdragon SoC.

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Alongside additional performance, Qualcomm’s 8cx introduces Quick Charge 4+, offering faster charging capabilities than ever before. It also has baked-in support for advanced LTE data connectivity up to 2 Gbps download and 316Mbps upload, and supports new wireless standards like 802.11ac and 802.11ad — although they have more simplified names these days — and Bluetooth 5.

These chips are shipping out to device manufacturers now and we can expect laptops and tablets utilizing the new Snapdragon 8cx to arrive in the third quarter of 2019. When they do, they could come sporting Windows Home, Pro, or Enterprise, have up to 16GB of LPDDR4X memory, have NVMe SSD storage, support monitors with HDR capabilities and up to 4K resolution, and run games with the DirectX 12 API.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx will likely find its way into similar devices as the Snapdragon 835 and 845 did like the Always-Connected Windows platforms, which eschew strong wireless connectivity and long battery life. But with a push with the Snapdragon 850 to go beyond those more typical devices, Qualcomm may be looking to power a new generation of 2019 laptops that are a little outside its usual wheelhouse.

Updated December 12, 2018: Corrected performance improvement numbers of Adreno 680.

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