A few years back, no one would have thought about running full x86 level Windows on an ARM processor. Two years ago, Qualcomm and Microsoft unveiled that the new Qualcomm processors (Snapdragon 845) can run Windows 10, and then we saw the onset of always-connected laptops with a fanless design and impeccable battery life. Today Qualcomm announced the third generation of processors for Windows laptop at their summit in Hawaii. These new processors are called 7c, 8c, and 8cx. Qualcomm announced these processors along with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 that will power flagship Android devices next year.
According to Windows Central, the only problem with these ARM-powered devices are their prices. The performance isn’t that great compared to similarly priced Intel devices (or other x86 chips for that matter). To fill the gap in the market segment that requires always connected fanless laptops with extended battery, Qualcomm has released the new 7c and 8c chips.
The entry-level 7c chip is an Octa-core processor based on Qualcomm’s Kyro 468 CPU. It should fare well with Intel’s U or Y processors. Qualcomm claims that the chip is a “20 percent boost in system performance and up to twice the battery life” compared to the previous chips. It is also using Adreno 618 GPU for the added graphical bonus. Lastly, it comes with Qualcomm’s proprietary X15 LTE modem for connectivity. We may see this processor many cheap notebooks powered by the Qualcomm 7c chip in Q3 of 2020.
The mid-range 8c chip is targeted for the mainstream Windows machines. It is built on the 8cx (flagship) platform, which means it will have all the bells and whistles that one expects. The chip is fabricated on the 7nm node, and Qualcomm claims that it will be around 30% faster than last year’s 850 chip. It ships with a more powerful modem called X24 LTE with multi-gigabit connectivity. Moreover, the AI engine is more powerful, too, with six TOPS (Trillion operations per second) to aid AI and machine learning on your Windows machine.
Both these chips will help in keeping the prices of the laptops powered by the ARM processors in check. Since these processors will go directly against Intel’s Project Athena, the competition will drive the prices further down.