Key Points

  • Snapdragon X Unveiled: Qualcomm's annual event promises insights into the Snapdragon X, a next-gen Arm processor for PCs set to launch in 2024.
  • Nuvia Acquisition: Snapdragon X is the outcome of Qualcomm's strategic acquisition of Nuvia in 2021, a move that brought in key Apple chipmaking talent.
  • Oryon Architecture: The Snapdragon X introduces the Oryon CPU architecture, Qualcomm's first fully custom Arm design since the original Kryo cores in 2015.
  • Performance Boost: The custom design aims to bridge the performance gap, offering enhanced speed and efficiency for Arm-powered Windows PCs.
  • Software Challenges: Despite advancements, the shift to Arm chips in PCs faces hurdles with software compatibility, similar to the early challenges faced by Apple Silicon.

Qualcomm, a major player in the semiconductor industry, is gearing up to reveal its next-generation Arm processor for PCs, and it's generating quite a buzz. This article delves into Qualcomm's ambitious project, codenamed "Snapdragon X," and explores how it could revolutionize Arm-powered Windows PCs, akin to what Apple's Silicon chips did for Macs a few years ago.

The Annual Snapdragon Summit

The annual "Snapdragon Summit" is just around the corner, and Qualcomm is expected to shed more light on the Snapdragon X, slated for a 2024 release. While Qualcomm has been producing chips for PCs for years, the performance of these chips has never quite matched up to the likes of Intel's Core or AMD's Ryzen CPUs, particularly for mainstream laptops.

What makes Snapdragon X different is its origins. These chips are the first fruits of Qualcomm's acquisition of Nuvia in 2021. Nuvia, founded and staffed by key personnel from Apple's chipmaking team, was responsible for the disruptive Apple M1 chip. This acquisition has raised eyebrows and sparked curiosity about the potential synergy between Qualcomm and Nuvia's talent.

The Game-Changer

The game-changer in Snapdragon X is the CPU architecture known as "Oryon." This marks Qualcomm's first fully custom Arm CPU design since the original Kryo cores dating back to 2015. Unlike the tweaked versions of off-the-shelf Arm Cortex processors used in subsequent Kryo designs, Oryon's custom design retains the Arm instruction set but offers significant performance improvements for everyday tasks while maintaining exceptional power efficiency and battery life.

However, it's not all smooth sailing. The shift to Arm-based chips in PCs is still grappling with software compatibility issues. Many Windows apps and drivers designed for x86 PCs don't work on the Arm-based software. While native Arm versions are available for some apps, they often default to downloading and installing x86 versions. The transition to Arm chips in PCs hasn't been as seamless as the Apple Silicon shift for Macs. Apple had already phased out older driver types and 32-bit app support before making the switch.

Legal matters have also surrounded Qualcomm's venture into this new territory. The company faced a lawsuit from Apple over the acquisition of Nuvia, accusing Qualcomm of poaching Apple employees. While the suit was dropped earlier this year, Arm, the company, has filed its own lawsuit against Qualcomm regarding the Nuvia acquisition. Arm alleges that Nuvia violated its licensing agreements when it was purchased by Qualcomm, and it calls for the discontinuation of all chips developed under those terms.

As Qualcomm readies itself for the Snapdragon Summit, the tech world eagerly anticipates the details surrounding Snapdragon X. Will it live up to the hype and bring about a new era for Arm-powered Windows PCs? The tech industry is poised for exciting times ahead



About QUALCOMM INC


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  • QUALCOMM Incorporated engages in the development and commercialization of foundational technologies for the wireless industry worldwide. The company operates through three segments: Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT); Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL); and Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives (QSI). The QCT segment develops and supplies integrated cir...
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