Qualcomm has had more experience than Apple when it comes to ARM-based notebook chip launches, but we can all agree that the M1 silicon caught everyone off-guard, especially the San Diego firm. The best that Qualcomm has produced thus far is the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2, but it is hardly a notable upgrade over the first-generation Snapdragon 8cx.
Qualcomm might have realized by now the threat Apple poses, which is why it is reportedly developing an M1 competitor that we will eventually find in future notebook computers. All we have to say that Qualcomm’s engineering team better put some extra development hours on this unnamed Snapdragon silicon because the M1 is not the only danger looming out there from Apple.
Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Apple M1 competitor from Qualcomm.
Apple M1 Competitor From Qualcomm – Going Over the ‘Surface’ Details First
The upcoming Apple M1 competitor will continue being a member of the Snapdragon family, with a previous report stating that it is internally called SC8280. This suggests that Qualcomm may not call it the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 since it appears that the chip might be in a whole new league. To be honest, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 represents Qualcomm’s extreme lack of effort in the Windows 10 for ARM space.
We say this because a previous benchmark revealed that the updated Surface Pro X’s SQ2 chip based on the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 performs identically to the SQ1, the silicon found in the first-generation Surface Pro X. Perhaps with the M1 running in the latest Macs, Qualcomm and its talented team will pull up their pants and resume development and research work with a bit more diligence.
The Specification Details
Though the Apple M1 competitor is currently in its testing phases, Qualcomm appears to be making some progress. The Snapdragon chipset was apparently running in two 14-inch notebook variants. One sports 8GB of LPDDR5, while the other touts 32GB of LPDDR4X memory. This does not mean that consumer machines will be limited to the aforementioned RAM counts and standards, as manufacturers will dictate the specifications themselves. This revelation can simply show if the chipset is not showing any performance differences while running a machine with varying memory standards.
We do, however, believe that the RAM will be soldered on these future notebooks, so plan ahead before purchasing. The Apple M1 competitor in development reportedly features a die size measuring 20 x 17 millimeters, while the Snapdragon 8cx measures 20 x 15 millimeters. A larger die size means Qualcomm will have ample room to incorporate more performance cores, an addition that might give it a fighting chance against the M1. Then again, Qualcomm might have different plans, according to the latest report.
Apparently, the chipset manufacturer is thinking of abandoning power efficiency cores, focusing on performance ones only. In a previous report, it is stated that these performance cores will be categorized under ‘Gold+’ and ‘Gold’, where Gold+ are expected to be ultra-high-performance cores running at much faster clock speeds. One reason why Qualcomm could ditch power efficiency cores is because the new chipset is said to use an integrated NPU.
Using machine learning, the Snapdragon silicon’s performance cores could clock down when the Windows 10 notebook is not running a taxing application, saving battery life as a result, and vice versa. Currently, the maximum clock speeds tested on the Gold+ cores is 3.00GHz, while the regular Gold cores are operating at 2.43GHz. Qualcomm is also testing out some Gold+ samples at 2.70GHz instead of 3.00GHz, likely to monitor stability and temperatures.
In the end, we feel that the chipmaker might give flexibility to notebook manufacturing partners on clock speed tweaking based on the thermal solution used. A beefier cooler will allow a notebook to gain more performance, but it might become heavier than competing machines.
However, we believe that Qualcomm’s partners might not get overzealous with the cooling because they want to market their next-generation products as being lighter than the M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro while delivering better battery life. It is only a question of finding the right balance, and we will see Qualcomm’s progress in the coming months.
Will the Apple M1 Competitor Be Declared ‘Dead on Arrival’ Because of the M1X?
It is a question a lot of you might be pondering, and yes, we are discussing the arrival of the M1X here. Simply stated, we do not believe that Apple M1 competitor will be any match for the upcoming M1X that is expected to be found in the 14.1-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. According to an estimated performance chart, the M1X makes 10-core desktop processors a joke, so it is obvious that the upcoming Snapdragon chipset will not even pose a challenge.
Then again, this Snapdragon part is for a completely different class of notebooks, while the M1X will be dedicated to more thicker, heavier MacBook Pro models. However, it will be interesting to see what sort of decisions processor manufacturers take after the arrival of the M1X. Will Qualcomm start development of an even more powerful ARM-based SoC for bulkier machines? We think Qualcomm might already be planning ahead because the firm is expected to develop its own ARM cores rather than license existing ones.
With this step, the chipset maker will follow in the same footsteps as Apple, but it is a long and hard road ahead, especially when the California-based giant is ahead of the pack and with the M1X launch, it plans on maintaining that lead. While this is all the information we have for you, we will continue to update this section as soon as we hear more about the Apple M1 competitor from Qualcomm, so stay tuned.