Qualcomm revealed today at IFA 2020 its new Snapdragon 8cX Gen 2 5G compute platform, which is the successor to its first SoC designed for the ground up for ARM-based Always Connected PCs. According to the chip maker, the new SoC delivers multi-day battery life and "over 50% greater system-wide performance and battery life versus competing solutions,” and the first commercial devices using this new chip are expected to ship in late 2020.
On the connectivity front, Qualcomm says that the built-in 5G modem will deliver multi-gigabit speeds on 5G networks without sacrificing battery life. The new chip will also support dual 4K displays through a single Type C cable to a dock, and Qualcomm also highlighted how its AI engine can improve the video conferencing experience, as we’ve already seen with the Eye Contact technology that recently became available on the Qualcomm-powered Surface Pro X from Microsoft.
As you may know, Microsoft was one of the first companies to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx SoC in its Surface Pro X last year, though the tablet used a customized version of this chip rebranded as the Microsoft SQ1 processor. We don’t know yet if Microsoft will release a Surface Pro X successor with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G SoC, but the chip maker announced a new partnership with Acer today which will use this new chip for its first-ever Windows on Snapdragon PC.
“We are excited to expand our customer reach with Acer, to continue bringing the best of the Smartphone to the PC. Together, we will deliver cutting-edge devices and experiences to consumers and businesses, enabling them to connect, create and collaborate anytime from virtually anywhere,” said Miguel Nunes, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
It's good to see that Qualcomm is continuing to invest in Always Connected PCs, even though Windows 10 on ARM devices remain pretty niche. Compatibility issues are still preventing the platform from reaching a bigger audience, especially with the lack of support of x64 legacy apps. Additionally, most developers have yet to recompile their apps for the ARM64 architecture, including Microsoft which is still working on an ARM64 version of Microsoft Teams.
It could be years before ARM-based Always Connected PCs become popular, but there's definitely a demand for mobile PCs with multi-day battery life and built-in cellular connectivity. Apple is currently on a similar path with its first ARM-based MacBook expected for later this year, and the company said it June that it expected to transition its whole Mac line to Apple Silicon over the next two years.