Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite Challenges Apple and Intel in ARM’s Race for Windows Laptops

by Adeel Younas
Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite

Recently, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon X Elite platform. This platform is poised to drive a new wave of Windows laptops, with a planned release in mid-2024. This unveiling represents a significant achievement for Qualcomm. They are competing directly with industry giants such as Apple and Intel.

Key Specifications of Snapdragon X Elite Platform

Component Specification
CPU Qualcomm Oryon, 64-bit architecture, 12 cores
up to 3.8 GHz, single and dual-core boost up to 4.3 GHz
GPU Qualcomm Adreno, up to 4.6 TFLOPs, supports DX12
NPU Qualcomm Hexagon, 45 TOPs
Memory (RAM) LPDDR5x, 8533 MT/s transfer rate, up to 64GB
Storage SD v3.0, NVME over PCIe Gen 4, UFS 4.0
Process 4nm
Display Qualcomm Adreno DPU, up to UHD 120Hz with HDR10
Connectivity Snapdragon X65 5G Modem, up to 10 Gbps,
Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth LE 5.4
More Features AV1 encoding, decoding for 4K HDR video,
lossless sound with Snapdragon Sound Tech Suite,
on-device generative AI at 30 tokens per second,
“enterprise grade” security

Impressive Performance Metrics

The Snapdragon X Elite features the Oryon CPU, equipped with 12 cores and impressive clock speeds. It is capable of outperforming both Apple’s M2 Max and Intel’s Core i9-13980HX processors in single-threaded scores.

According to Qualcomm, it can achieve similar peak performance while consuming significantly less power, reducing power consumption by 30% compared to Apple and 70% compared to Intel.

Outstanding Graphics and Memory Capabilities

The Qualcomm Adreno GPU, integrated into the platform, delivers outstanding performance with up to 4.6 TFLOPs. It outperforms the graphics capabilities of both Intel Iris Xe and AMD’s Ryzen 9 7940HS, all while maintaining significantly lower power consumption.

Snapdragon X Elite GPU

Additionally, the Snapdragon X Elite supports memory (RAM) up to 64GB, providing ample resources for multitasking and demanding applications.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite platform supports 5G connectivity, along with the latest Wi-Fi standards, including Wi-Fi 7. While it doesn’t support Thunderbolt, it offers multiple USB ports, enabling seamless connectivity for various peripherals.

Advancements in AI and Sensing Hubs

The inclusion of Qualcomm’s Hexagon NPU, with a processing capability of up to 45 TOPs, signifies a new era in localized AI processing. The platform’s Sensing Hub likely designed for human presence detection, enhancing security and power efficiency in laptops.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite NPU

While the specifications and claims are impressive, the real-world performance of the Snapdragon X Elite remains to be seen. It’s essential to conduct thorough benchmarks to validate Qualcomm’s assertions.

Snapdragon X Elite Release Date

Qualcomm anticipates that laptops powered by the Snapdragon X Elite platform will be available to consumers from mid-2024. This timeline aligns with previous releases, and we can expect various PC vendors to embrace this platform in different form factors.

My Opinion

In my view, the Snapdragon X segment of the livestream has concluded, and here are some noteworthy observations:

  1. They employed a mix of Linux and Windows for tests.
  2. Geekbench as exclusive CPU test utilized.
  3. 3DMark Wildlife Extreme was the sole GPU test employed.
  4. Real-world workloads were absent, mainly due to the WoA emulation layer.
  5. Surprisingly, there was no gameplay demonstration.
  6. They made no mention of compatibility with dedicated GPUs (dGPUs).
  7. The presentation featured Intel’s ‘most popular’ chips rather than the flagship chips for each TDP (1370p (14c)>1360p (12c) and 13900H>13800H).
  8. No pricing details.
  9. The transistor count not provided.
  10. There was no information about design wins or actual products; only three partnerships were mentioned.
  11. They showcased only 17 native non-Microsoft Arm apps, which included 6 video/music streaming apps, 3 messengers, and 8 photo editing apps.
  12. There was a bit of inconsistency between M2 for multi-threaded and M2 Max for single-threaded performance.
  13. The AI slide lacked specific details or disclaimers, offering only a vague reference to ‘PC laptop competition.’

While the technical achievements appear competitive, particularly against last-gen competitors, I remain skeptical about various aspects. Without information about the transistor count, we can’t estimate how much OEMs will invest.

The Broader Perspective

It’s worth noting that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite is not an isolated development. The company has announced that the Elite series is just one of many versions they plan to release over the coming years, targeting different PC categories and price points.

Although there are no recent breakthroughs in translating x86 apps to ARM64, the impressive performance of the Snapdragon X Elite might make up for the lack of optimization in legacy x86 apps.

Source: Snapdragon

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