At its annual Tech Summit, where you can now watch a replay of the Day 1 conference and where Day 2 is being live-streamed as I type, Qualcomm expanded the portfolio of solutions for “Always On, Always Connected PCs” with the introduction of its Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 compute platform, which the company says is “designed to deliver the performance and exceptional experiences users deserve in premium ultra-slim and fanless laptops.”
In addition to the flagship 8cx Gen 3, Qualcomm also says it is strengthening “the entry-tier Windows PC and Chromebook ecosystems with robust 5G connectivity and advanced AI experiences” by unveiling the “Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 Compute Platform,” with both platforms said to “utilise smart, connected technology to modernise PC experiences and redefine mobile computing for end users.”
Qualcomm says its Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 Compute Platform is its m”ost powerful and efficient connected platform designed for use in premium, truly mobile PCs”, promising “lightning-fast 5G connectivity, enhanced camera and audio capabilities, chip to cloud security solutions, AI-accelerated experiences, and multi-day battery life.”
Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 “offers unprecedented 5G-connectivity and AI capabilities, advancing affordable, entry-tier Windows PCs and Chromebooks,” with the company stating its continued platform leadership enables “the innovative designs and experiences that users deserve.”
The first versions of Qualcomm’s Arm-based platforms for PCs were lacking in power, but obviously, as time goes by and technology improves, Qualcomm has been able to make great strides in performance, and so it will definitely be fascinating to see 8cx Gen 3 computers in action, and to see what the universe of actual buyers and the world of tech journalism thinks once these devices are in people’s hands, but Qualcomm is clearly confident its devices have the oomph and power required to keep modern users happy.
Here’s Qualcomm’s official video, “Introducing the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 Compute Platform”, after which there is plenty more info to read up on.
Miguel Nunes, the VP of Product Management at Qualcomm said: “Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 builds on the technology that has transformed the PC industry, delivering premium experiences with breakthrough performance per watt, immersive camera and audio with enhanced AI-acceleration, lightning-fast 5G connectivity, and chip-to-cloud security in thin, fanless systems.
“With Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3, we are raising the bar in the entry-tier by extending 5G mobile computing across ecosystems. Whether for consumers, business, or education, Snapdragon compute platforms deliver the capabilities and experiences that our ecosystem customers and end users need.”
So, what makes the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 special?
Qualcomm explains it “marks the World’s First 5nm Windows PC platform, delivering best-in-class performance and efficiency.”
The company says its “advanced 5nm process node, combined with other optimisations,” allows it to “dramatically improve the performance of the Qualcomm Kryo CPU, while maintaining similar power consumption to our previous generation, resulting in new levels of efficiency.
“With the integration of new prime cores, Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 delivers an up to 85% generational performance uplift and up to 60% greater performance per watt over the competitive x86 platform.
“This means users will experience premium computing power to work faster in productivity applications with support for up to multiple days of battery life. During GPU-intensive activities, like web-browsing, video and photo editing, and video conferencing, users will benefit from the graphics and software experiences of the Qualcomm Adreno GPU at a staggering performance improvement of up to 60% versus our previous generation.
“This premium platform also supports gaming at full HD (up to 120 FPS) and is optimized to allow users to game up to 50% longer than certain competing platforms.”
So, what about “Immersive videoconferencing and streaming, with crystal-clear audio and leading camera capabilities?”
Here, Qualcomm notes “video conferencing has become more prevalent, and 8cx Gen 3 continues the innovation of video and audio capabilities, delivering crisp visuals and clear audio that enable incredible experiences available in a laptop.
“Utilising the Qualcomm Spectra ISP with improved camera start-up time, users can begin video conferences up to 15% faster than with our previous generation. 8cx Gen 3 delivers the latest generation 3A – Auto focus, Auto White Balance, and Auto Exposure – so Microsoft Teams or Zoom calls adapt to the user’s movement and lighting changes with high quality video.
“Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 enables crystal clear audio in almost any environment, with Qualcomm Noise and Echo Cancellation technology – part of the Qualcomm Voice Suite. This feature is enhanced through AI acceleration to improve the clarity and quality of users’ audio. That means that user’s laptop can remove unwanted background sounds such as barking dogs or a neighbour moving their lawn. Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 also supports up to 4K HDR camera quality, and up to 4 cameras for new use cases.”
Of course, Mac users on macOS Monterey 12, along with iPhone and iPad users on iOS 15, already enjoy such capabilities, with Apple’s WWDC showing off someone speaking indoors with a very loud leaf blower right behind them, and in “voice isolation” mode, the background noise was completely eliminated, so it is beyond great to see these capabilities natively now part of the Qualcomm platform for 8cx Gen 3 devices running Teams or Zoom, with these platforms such an important part of modern day work and life.
In addition to “enabling the everyday features users rely on, such as face detection or background blur and audio noise suppression,” Qualcomm says its “built-in AI capabilities of Snapdragon compute platforms at every tier support key power optimization for AI workloads.
“8cx Gen 3 delivers an incredible 29+ TOPS of AI acceleration, almost 3X the leading competitive platform, helping users experience more performant AI experiences. With rapid adoption of AI capabilities to accelerate application experiences, users will experience even more advanced security, modern new use cases, and enriching experiences.”
Naturally, Qualcomm notes “users deserve peace of mind around the security of their data, especially as our digital lifestyles put laptops at the centre of working, learning, and connecting.”
The company states “8cx Gen 3 is architected to deliver security from chip to cloud, introducing a new standard for protecting users’ device and data from malicious activity. In addition to a layered chipset-level Secure Boot processes and the security of cellular connectivity, 8cx Gen 3 continues to enable Microsoft Secured-core PCs for high-level protection out of the box.
“For managed systems in the Enterprise or Education segments, the Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit (SPU) implements Microsoft Pluton Security Solution for Windows 11 and can help to securely store sensitive data such as credentials, personal data, and encryption keys directly on the SoC.
“8cx Gen 3 also introduces a camera security framework supporting Windows Hello login and a dedicated Computer Vision processor for continuous authentication that helps ensure the user’s device automatically locks when they leave their machine. 8cx Gen 3 also introduces runtime memory encryption, while Zero Trust frameworks can use more sensors and connection health monitoring to enable real-time authentication of access to corporate resources.”
Next up comes connectivity, where Qualcomm promises “the world’s most comprehensive connectivity in a PC platform.”
Here, Qualcomm states “8cx Gen 3 offers the most robust connectivity for always connected laptops. Support for Snapdragon X55, X62, or X65 5G Modem-RF systems allow devices powered by 8cx Gen 3 to reach lightning-fast speeds of up to 10 Gbps.
“8cx Gen 3 also features Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 to enable the fastest Wi-Fi 6/6E speeds available – with Wi-Fi Dual Station, developed in collaboration with Microsoft for Windows 11, utilising Qualcomm 4-stream Dual Band Simultaneous technology.
“Devices powered by 8cx Gen 3 also seamlessly switch between trusted Wi-Fi 6/6E and 5G or 4G LTE networks for lightning-fast, highly-secure, on-the-go connectivity – perfect for being productive or enjoying entertainment from anywhere. Combined with the leading efficiency of Snapdragon compute, these Always Connected capabilities also enable the users’ device to remain Always On. This means their device can remain up to date and be instant-on, available at the touch of a button, with virtually no wakeup time.”
Yuanqing Yang, chairman and chief executive officer, Lenovo said: “I’m excited to see the launch of the Snapdragon compute platforms and can’t wait to see them running in Lenovo and Motorola devices. I share Cristiano’s vision of everyone and everything being connected, and Snapdragon platforms play a critical role in that connectivity. Lenovo and Qualcomm are shaping and driving global digitalisation and intelligent transformation for consumers and the commercial businesses.”
“We are building our technology capabilities around ‘client-edge-cloud-network-intelligence’ with ongoing collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies. Together, let’s build a smarter future for all.”
Panos Panay, executive vice president, chief product officer, Microsoft said: “Microsoft and Qualcomm Technologies have delivered on innovative computing experiences to empower customers in our collaboration over the years, from our recently announced Windows 11 to the new Surface Pro X.”
“As we look forward, we will continue to see the PC play a central role in people’s lives. Together, we have a shared vision of redefining computing to deliver a more mobile, connected experience combining the best features of the smartphone with the power and performance people expect in a Windows PC.”
So, what about gaming?
Qualcomm has published a blog post, with video, titled: “5 questions answered about the all-new Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform “, while Qualcomm has also released a new developer kit and hardware gaming platform in conjunction with Razer that you can read about in detail in Qualcomm’s media release titled: “Qualcomm Introduces Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform to Power a New Generation of Dedicated Gaming Devices.”
And what about the entry-tier level of computing the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 compute platform delivers?
Here, Qualcomm states it 7c+ Gen 3 Compute Platform “will enable a new class of entry-tier devices with exceptional levels of performance and advanced capabilities. Purpose-built for users across our Windows PC and Chromebook ecosystem, the 6nm 7c+ Gen 3 delivers an up to 60% faster CPU performance and up to 70% faster GPU performance uplift.
“The Qualcomm AI Engine enables AI-accelerated experiences through 6.5 TOPS of performance, which is unprecedented in the entry tier. The 7c+ Gen 3 also introduces 5G connectivity for the first time in an entry-level platform, raising the bar of accessible connectivity for affordable device users. The integrated Snapdragon X53 5G Modem-RF system supports 5G sub-6 and mmWave– enabling download speeds of up to 3.7 Gbps.
“The addition of FastConnect 6700 brings multi-gigabit Wi-Fi 6 and 6E with speeds up to 2.9 Gbps. We remain committed to making connectivity more accessible, and the improved connectivity technology in Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 will enable fast, advanced, efficient always-connected laptops for a new level of entry-tier Windows PCs and Chromebooks.
“Devices powered by Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 are expected to launch in 1H22.”