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Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2: Qualcomm’s second attempt at outmuscling Intel on PCs

Qualcomm is doubling down on its investment with Microsoft’s Windows platform. With the company’s Snapdragon silicon found on a broad array of Android smartphones and tablet, Qualcomm is now launching its second generation of premium always-connected PC processors at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G compute platform will be Qualcomm’s second system-on-a-chip architecture for Windows 10 devices that supports 5G mobile broadband connectivity.

“Working remotely is the new reality, and more businesses are looking to quickly and securely connect their employee base, accelerating the need for always on, always connected PCs that are thin, light and truly mobile, equipped with blazing fast 5G cellular and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity,” Qualcomm’s senior director of product management Miguel Nunes said in a statement.

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In essence, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 platform makes many of the same promises as the first generation Snapdragon 8cx, but it adds generational improvements to power efficiency and performance.

For users accustomed to working with multi-display setups, the architectural upgrade also brings support for dual 4K displays at 60Hz, making the platform more competitive against traditional laptops running on Intel’s and AMD’s x86 architecture. Qualcomm’s existing chipsets could be found on devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro X, which uses a custom ARM processor co-engineered with Microsoft.

According to Qualcomm, the new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G delivers 50% greater system-wide performance and battery life than competing solutions. Qualcomm’s own metrics showed that its new platform boasts 18% better total system performance and 39% better productivity performance per watt, against Intel’s 10th-generation 15-watt Core i5 processor.

The company, however, did not provide data on the specific improvements the second-gen platform delivers over the original 8cx nor was comparison data available for Intel’s 11th-gen processors.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Qualcomm’s ARM processors also come with artificial intelligence support. A.I. can be leveraged to always show eye contact being maintained during video conference calls and enhanced cybersecurity with faster threat detection, Qualcomm stated in a press presentation. The chipset supports cameras up to 32 megapixels, HDR video capture and playback up to 4K resolution, virtual surround sound audio with noise suppression technology for clearer calls, and support for dual 4K external monitors.

“With Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G, users will not have to sacrifice performance or longevity for connectivity or security,” the company stated in a press release, promising multi-day battery life. Essentially, the 8cx platform is designed to take on Intel’s Project Athena Ultrabooks.

And when paired with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G modem, it can add integrated mobile broadband support. Wi-Fi 6 support is also present with these chips.

Qualcomm stated that new commercial devices with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G platform will be available later this year. At launch, Qualcomm’s platform will compete against Intel’s new 11th-generation mobile processors. The biggest complaint with the original 8cx is sluggish app performance. Hopefully, Qualcomm and Microsoft addressed slow performance when traditional Windows programs need to be emulated this go around to better compete against the upcoming generation of Mac computers running custom Apple silicon.

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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