On Tuesday, at its annual Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii, Qualcomm announced a major addition to its line of mobile chips with the Snapdragon X Elite, which the company is calling its most powerful processor to date.
The Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite is the successor to last year’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 line of laptop chips, which recently got a name change to reflect the huge leap in performance for this upcoming generation. Powered by 12 Oryon cores, Qualcomm claims the X Elite provides up to two times faster CPU performance compared to Intel’s 13th-gen Core i7-1360P and i7-1355U processors while also drawing up to 68 percent less power.
The chip is based on a 4nm design fabricated by TSMC with standard clock speeds of 3.8GHz with a dual-core boost of up to 4.3GHz. Qualcomm also includes 42MB of total cache with an LPDDR5x memory bandwidth of 136 GB/s. When compared to Apple’s M2 chip, Qualcomm says the X Elite boasts 50 percent faster peak multithreaded performance. And thanks to its integrated GPU, the X Elite is said to offer twice the graphics performance as the i7-13800H at ISO power.
Qualcomm’s new AI Engine should also provide a significant boost to machine learning-based tasks. Between its Oryon CPU, Adreno GPU and Hexagon NPU, the X Elite looks to deliver up to 75 TOPs, which Qualcomm claims is 4.5 times more than its competitors. The chip was also designed to run large language models with up to 13 billion parameters locally with Qualcomm saying the chip offers the fastest Stable Diffusion performance of any laptop chip on the market. Other features include support for AV1 4K HDR video encoding/decoding, 5G connectivity (with downloads of up to 10 Gbps), Wi-Fi 7 and the company’s built-in Sensing Hub.
The arrival of the Snapdragon X Elite is poised to be a major breakthrough for Qualcomm as it attempts to better compete against rivals like Intel and more specifically Apple, following the latter’s transition away from x86-based chips to its custom-designed M-series silicon. The development of the chip’s Oryon cores has been a multiyear process following Qualcomm’s acquisition of Nuvia back in 2021.
That said, while the X Elite boasts some impressive specs and power numbers, the major challenge for Qualcomm is translating all that oomph into actual performance. That’s because unlike Apple, Qualcomm doesn’t have the luxury of being able to design both its chips and the software/OS its processors are running. And as we’ve seen in the past on devices like the Surface Pro 9, systems running Windows on Arm still don’t feel as fast or responsive when compared to their more traditional x86-based counterparts.
Thankfully, with retail PCs powered by the Snapdragon X Elite expected to arrive sometime in mid-2024, it won’t be too long until we can see how Qualcomm’s latest laptop chip performs in the real world.