Qualcomm Expands Snapdragon X Family With New Entry-Level Snapdragon X Plus Chip

Qualcomm, mobile chipmaker doubled down on its processor roadmap with another new product announcement. Enter the Snapdragon X Plus, fresh budget-focused addition to the company’s growing family of Arm-based silicon aimed at taking on Apple’s M-series chips and traditional x86 CPUs from Intel and AMD.

Okay, let’s start by breaking down what exactly this mysterious “X Plus” chip brings to the table. From the high-level specs Qualcomm has shared so far, it looks to be a slightly pared-down version of the previously revealed X Elite flagship. The Snapdragon X Plus rocks a 10-core CPU setup with clock speeds up to 3.4GHz – a step below the 12-core, up to 4.2GHz boost performance promised by the top-tier X Elite variants.

Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon X Plus

Where the X Plus seems to diverge more is on the graphics front. Its GPU tops out at 3.8 TFLOPs of compute power, a modest 20% reduction compared to the range-topping X Elite configuration. But in one key area, Qualcomm is keeping the X Plus on equal footing: it’ll feature the same 45 TOPS AI engine as the Elite models to enable advanced machine learning acceleration.

So from Qualcomm’s early performance claims and benchmark leaks, the X Plus looks like it should still handily outmuscle Apple’s M3 chip in multi-threaded tasks while trading blows on graphics prowess. Not too shabby for what will presumably be a more affordable, entry-level offering. Of course, we’ll have to wait for third-party tests on shipping systems before passing final judgement.
That’s not the only news on Qualcomm’s PC processor front though. The company has also finally pulled back the curtain on its full SKU lineup for the premium X Elite tier.

Snapdragon X Elite: Qualcomm’s Bold Bet to Beat Apple’s M3

There will be not one, not two, but three distinct versions of the flagship X Elite chip. And wouldn’t you know it, Qualcomm decided to make things as confusing as possible by assigning them almost identical model numbers differentiated only by the last few digits:

  • Snapdragon X1E-84-100 (the range-topper)
  • Snapdragon X1E-82-200
  • Snapdragon X1E-80-300

I’ll give you a moment to commit those to memory. Maybe make some flashcards while you’re at it.
Thankfully, the on-paper differences are relatively straightforward once you parse through the nonsense naming. All three Elite models feature the same 12 CPU cores and 45 TOPS NPU for AI acceleration. They also share the same memory interface (LPDDR5X at up to 8488 MT/s) and whopping 42MB of cache.

The chip-to-chip variances lie in their CPU and GPU clock speeds, as well as Qualcomm’s fancy new “DuoBoost” technology that allows two of the 12 cores to ramp up even higher for lightly threaded tasks. The X1E-84-100 comes out as the top dog with CPU frequencies up to 3.8GHz (4.2GHz with DuoBoost enabled) and a muscular 4.6 TFLOPs GPU.

Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon X Plus

So why the gratuitous numbering system? Well, Qualcomm says it’s a necessary evil to cater to the OEM ecosystem which allegedly “demands” this kind of overkill model identification across product tiers. Sure, it results in a convoluted mess that makes Apple’s straightforward M3 Pro/Max/Ultra branding look downright elegant by comparison. But the chip makers gotta keep its laptop vendor partners happy, I suppose.

From my vantage point, this increasingly fragmented Snapdragon lineup feels like Qualcomm scrambling to keep up with the blistering performance improvements Apple is cramming into each new M-series revision. Don’t get me wrong, the projected multi-threaded muscle of these X chips could absolutely give the M3 and x86 competition a run for their money. That NPU advantage for AI workloads is particularly tantalizing.

But Apple’s vertical integration with its hardware and software remains the biggest hurdle for Qualcomm to clear. The Mac-maker’s near-monopoly on optimizing every nook and cranny of its Apple Silicon platform is a huge advantage – one that Qualcomm will struggle to match while relying on third-party OEMs to fine-tune for its designs.

Of course, Arm-based Windows PCs are still very much a developing product category. We’ll likely see all sorts of unique chip configs and odd product segmentation as players like Qualcomm and MediaTek jostle for market positioning. This overly complex new X lineup is just an early taste of what could be many more head-scratching moves to come.

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