Qualcomm has taken the wraps off its new “Snapdragon X” series of PC processors, representing a major shift in strategy for the company. Built using customized Oryon CPU cores designed in-house, these new chips aim to compete head-on with Apple’s M-series Silicon by leveraging Qualcomm’s architectural license for customization latitude.
The Snapdragon X family will slot in above Qualcomm’s existing Snapdragon compute chips, serving as a premium tier meant to rival Intel Core i9 and Apple M2 Pro. This suggests a sizable performance leap over Qualcomm’s previous Arm-based Windows PC offerings.
By acquiring Nuvia in 2021, Qualcomm gained expertise in designing high-performance Arm-based cores. Rather than relying on off-the-shelf Cortex cores from Arm, Qualcomm can now build processors from scratch while still adhering to the same instruction set architecture for compatibility.
According to Alex Katouzian, SVP of Qualcomm, this vertical integration results in better optimization throughout the entire system-on-chip. Qualcomm also claims the shift to Oryon will bring about a “significant leap in performance and efficiency.”
Early benchmark leaks of the first Oryon CPU, code-named Hamoa, show it easily surpassing Apple’s M2 chip in single-threaded workloads based on Geekbench results. Multi-threaded scores remain lower, but rapid iteration is expected to close the gap over generations.
In addition to the Oryon CPUs, Qualcomm Snapdragon X chips will feature integrated GPUs and the Qualcomm AI Engine for accelerating workloads like generative AI. This focus on AI hints at how pivotal Qualcomm views the technology for future PCs.
By finally leveraging its privilege to deeply customize Arm-based cores, Qualcomm can take direct aim at Apple Silicon on its home turf. With control over the CPU, GPU, AI hardware, and other components, Snapdragon X has vast optimization potential.
Of course, software compatibility and support remain vital for Qualcomm to make inroads against the Apple-Intel stronghold in laptops. But with Windows-on-Snapdragon now mature and Microsoft collaborating closely with Qualcomm, the software side looks less concerning than in past attempts.
If upcoming Snapdragon X devices live up to the promise shown in early testing, Qualcomm could firmly establish itself as the third major player in PC processors alongside Intel and Apple. For consumers, this renewed competition stands to accelerate innovation and choice in laptop hardware.
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