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What is the Snapdragon X Elite? Qualcomm’s M-series rivalling chip explained

Chipmaker Qualcomm has announced its latest efforts to conquer the Intel-dominated PC market with the new Snapdragon X Elite platform that could do for Arm-based Windows machines what the M-Series has done for Mac. Here’s everything you need to know.

As well as revealing the new flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform for 2024’s top Android smartphones, at the Snapdragon Summit Qualcomm has made perhaps its most impressive play for the PC market yet. Hopefully, it means Arm-based laptops are finally ready for prime time after years of underwhelming takes on popular models.

The 4nm platform promises powerful on-device AI experiences, top CPU performance, and a huge extension of battery life thanks to more efficient processors. It promises to be a huge upgrade on the 2021 Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, which sits in devices like the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s and the Qualcomm SQ3 platform within devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 variant.

What CPU and GPU does Snapdragon X Elite include?

Qualcomm is bundling the new Qualcomm Oryon CPU within the new X Elite platform. Without mentioning specific rival chips, the company says it’ll deliver 2x faster performance than Intel x86 based processors.

It has 12 high-performance cores that Qualcomm says will match the peak performance of rivals while only using a third of the power (68%). That should lead to some serious battery life gains. It’ll be backed by speedy (136GB/s) LPDDR5x memory.

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“Snapdragon X Elite represents a dramatic leap in innovation for computing as we deliver our new, custom Qualcomm Oryon CPU for super-charged performance that will delight consumers with incredible power efficiency and take their creativity and productivity to the next level,” said Kedar Kondap, SVP and GM of compute and gaming at Qualcomm.

In terms of graphics, there’s a Qualcomm Adreno GPU on board, which Qualcomm promises is up to 2x faster than rivals, while there’s also support for triple UHD monitors.

Snapdragon X Elite from Qualcomm

An AI powerhouse

Thus far, 2023 has undoubtedly been the year of AI and Qualcomm is rounding this off by revealing 2024 is going to be even bigger. The Snapdragon X Elite is “built for AI”, the company says.

The X Elite can run generative AI models at over 13 billion parameters right there on the device and promises 4.5x faster processing than competitors thanks to the built-in Qualcomm Hexagon NPU.

“Powerful on-device AI experiences will enable seamless multitasking and new intuitive user experiences, empowering consumers and businesses alike to create and accomplish more,” Kondap adds.

Better user experiences

Snapdragon X Elite will include the next-gen Wi-Fi 7 technology, as well as a 5G modem for better connectivity on the go. There’s support for “immersive lossless audio” on the chip itself. It’ll also benefit from a new technology called Snapdragon Seamless which will aim to better bridge the gap between Android phones and Windows PCs.

The new tech will enable file and screen sharing, quick audio switching between devices and loads more.

Snapdragon X Elite from Qualcomm

When will Snapdragon X Elite arrive within PCs?

There’s a little while to wait before you can snag a machine rocking a Snapdragon X Elite set-up. Qualcomm says machines from “leading OEMs” in a range of form factors are expected to drop by the middle of next year.

So, if you’re currently eyeing up a new PC, it might be an idea to hang fire and see what the X Elite platform is made of. Perhaps we’ll get a version of that long overdue Surface Pro 10 running the Arm-based processors? We can expect the likes of Lenovo and HP to be on board pretty quickly too.

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