Qualcomm Officially Unveils Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 for PCs

Posted on September 3, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 32 Comments

It was leaked last month by Samsung, but Qualcomm has made the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G Compute Platform official, claiming a 50 percent performance boost over last year’s lackluster original version.

“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, and coupled with multi-day battery-life to boost productivity,” Qualcomm senior director Miguel Nunes said in a prepared statement.

To say that the Snapdragon-powered Windows 10 on ARM platform has been a disappointment so far is the understatement of the decade, and one naturally wonders when Microsoft and Qualcomm will simply throw in the towel. But hope springs eternal. And maybe this terribly-named chipset, combined with some future x64 app compatibility, will make a difference.

Aside from the 50 percent performance improvement—a low bar—the 8cx Gen 2 uses the Qualcomm Aqstic echo cancellation and noise suppression (ECNS) technologies to provide “quality audio and camera experiences,” Qualcomm says. There’s also a Qualcomm Spectra ISP that enables internal cameras to support up to 4K HDR and 32 MPs of resolution. That’s about it for the new stuff: The 8cx Gen 2 is the second compute platform from Qualcomm to offer 5G connectivity using both Sub-6 GHz and 5G mmWave technologies.

The first (and probably only) PCs powered by this chipset will ship this holiday season.

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Comments (40)

40 responses to “Qualcomm Officially Unveils Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 for PCs”

  1. remc86007

    I'm ready for a Pro-X formfactor, fanless device with 3GHz quad-core x86 equivalent performance which can run full 64bit apps. Whoever delivers that first be it Intel, AMD or Qualcomm, gets my money.

  2. jhambi

    I would buy an ultra thin Chromebook with one of these. Not sure why the focus is on Windows.

  3. proftheory

    Stop trying to make a RISC chip an x86 (CISC) and port Windows to RISC/ARM. It has already been done for Linux (Android).

    • wright_is

      In reply to proftheory:

      The problem is the software, not the OS itself... A lot of it is legacy and not maintained, so no chance of getting it running on ARM and until ARM makes up a significant amount of hardware, nobody is going to convert their software to run on ARM and nobody will buy ARM until the software is there.

      Open source is easier, because you have the source, so you can modify it and recompile it for ARM yourself.

    • datameister

      In reply to proftheory:

      It has already been done for Windows too. But they want that x86 emulator in there so people can keep running the current base of Windows software. Otherwise what is the point of Windows if only a few of the thirty apps I want to use will work.

  4. jimchamplin

    More thoughts about Windows on ARM...

    WOA also needs variety in hardware. If one were to make an investment into the platform, they'd probably want to know that they can expand beyond weak thermally-constrained portables.

    Where are the ARM-based desktops with high TDPs that equate to high performance? Oh... nowhere to be seen. ARM CPUs are capable of so much more than damn Qualcomm will let them be. ARM could have pushed Intel out some years ago if one uninspired company didn't have a de facto monopoly on ARM chipsets. The truth is that Qualcomm is terrible for the ecosystem and Microsoft needs badly to open WOA officially to other chipset manufacturers.

    Choosing Qualcomm is like saying "We're fine with putting a 70HP four-banger in a half-ton pickup truck." Qualcomm has consistently demonstrated that if there's a market they're not interested in - and they're only interested in flagship Android phones - then they'll just recycle silicon year over year exactly as they did to Android wearables but charge premium prices for it. They can deliver a quality CPU, but they often choose not to because lol cheap. They want to sell 5G modems. That's all. If they can sell a 5G modem with a six-year-old core for brand-new prices, they will.

    Additionally, there needs to be official support for SBCs. You better believe I'd buy a Windows 10 license to run on an ODROID or Raspberry Pi 4 with 8+ GB of RAM.

    • wright_is

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      I agree, but it isn't as simple as that. The ARM instruction set is the same, but how the actual chip is implemented is different for each manufacturer. That is part of the reasons why Android is such a mess.

      There are plenty of mobile (smartphone and tablet) SoCs and there are high-end server SoCs (the fastest supercomputer at the moment is ARM based), but there is hardly anything in the laptop and desktop market.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I suspect the industry is waiting to see if WOA even survives. But the issues it has now---performance, compatibility---also preclude putting it on desktops for now.

    This is good news where Qualcomm needs to match Apple's Bionic ARM performance moving forward.

    With 50% performance increase now, native x86 can be left behind. Win64 compatibility is coming, too.

    Looking forward to the SPX2 with SQ1 Gen 2.

  6. glenn8878

    They'll be at Gen 5 or 6 by the time Windows is fully compatible with ARM.

    Or just get Windows applications ported to ARM. I know that's a hard sell. Chicken or Egg.

  7. pixymisa

    Not even 50% faster than the previous generation, 50% faster than undefined "competing solutions": "Performance and power tests were conducted by Qualcomm Technologies on Qualcomm Technologies reference platforms and commercial competitive devices."

    As far as I can tell this is literally the same chip as last year, just with a new modem.

  8. jimchamplin

    How about a version without the overpriced 5G crap so that they can deliver a machine that might have a hope of being competitively priced? ?

  9. winbookxl2

    I am excited for this jump and switch. I been using the Lenovo Yoga C630 WOS as my computer to attend school remotely and as my main Zoom & Teams device as it has 4GLTE backhaul. So far it had been working quite well. It's not the fastest comparted to my i7 PC Desktop and i7 MacBook Pro but after a year of software upgrades and newer programs being developed for the ARM64 platform its starting to age better than expected.

    I have high hopes for the 8cx Gen 2 as it may be able to replace many of the slower Chromebooks in the edu. field. Since developing and supporting these Windows on ARM machines will be much easier.

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