Beware of Intel and AMD. Snapdragon 8cx has just laid the Core i5 chip on the blades

One of the leading manufacturers of ARM processors is also one of the most interesting exhibitors at Computex 2019. He presented the world's first 5G ready laptop, as well as a processor that lagged behind the Core i5 competition.

ARM architecture has long monopolized the market for processors designed for ultra-mobile devices, such as a phone or tablet. Still, the PC market is an exotic curiosity, despite the efforts of Qualcomm and Microsoft. This is where the x86 architecture dominates, partly due to the fault of Windows developers.

It was not until very recently that Microsoft began to seriously rebuild Windows for ARM layouts. The company managed to largely solve the problem of incompatibility of applications written on x86 with processors with the aforementioned competitive architecture. The 32-bit ones work without any problems with relatively low performance losses, although 64-bit ones still need to be natively compiled on ARM.

Why should ARM chips appear on laptops in general?

In addition to the obvious desire to become independent from Intel, ARM systems are characterized by exceptionally good efficiency, and therefore high efficiency with low energy consumption and thermal emission. In addition, they are often part of the SoC, which also has a very fast and sleep-capable modem.

So why is ARM still exotic? Because the excellent energy parameters in the final balance and so lost with the raw performance of Intel and AMD chips. The ARM processors were simply too slow, and the additional loss of performance in x86 applications certainly did not help.

Is it too slow for sure? Qualcomm shows benchmarks. The Intel Core i5 gets tugged.

Qualcomm has partnered with UL (formerly Futuremark) to transfer the renowned benchmark PCMark10 application to ARM architecture. Thanks to this for the first time it is possible to actually compare the performance of computers with x86 systems with those with ARM architecture. And the results are surprising.

snapdragon 8cx core i5

The Snapdragon 8cx system not only defeats the Intel chip when working with the Edge browser, which was compiled natively for the ARM architecture. On the above slide you can also see the Microsoft Office icons. More specifically, it is a version downloaded from the Microsoft Store, and thus a 32-bit edition for the x86 architecture. Despite this, and again, the Qualcomm's integrated chip wins everywhere - except Excel.

snapdragon 8cx core i5

The above results of the graphic test, which are not so exciting anymore. They are not associated with any real application using 3D graphics, although it is worth noting that such an application written natively for ARM architecture can perform better than on the Intel GPU.

And what about energy efficiency? Here you can see what all the fuss is about.

Someone might have noticed that the differences in favor of ARM systems are not so large as to explain the potential change. Let's pay attention to energy efficiency, according to the same benchmark:

snapdragon 8cx core i5

The results are unfortunately a bit cheated, just as in the case of a graphical test. Snapdragon 8cx works on rendering graphics in Full HD, while the Intel chip renders it in 2K. Differences, however, go far beyond those that can be explained by different resolutions. Seven hours of difference to the Qualcomm system is something that almost every portable computer user will appreciate.

Qualcomm also showed the world's first 5G laptop. This is Lenovo with the Snapdragon 8cx chip.

Both companies claim that it will be thanks to this computer and the like that completely new work scenarios will be possible, taking into account fast data exchange, streaming video in 4K resolution and even 8K, as well as network work in virtual reality. That I will not mention more mundane matters, such as faster downloads of files from the cloud or lower delays in games.

Unfortunately, we do not know when this computer will appear on sale. We do not even know its trade name - both companies call it temporary Project Limitless. Unofficially, it is said that in stores we will find it only next year.

Qualcomm also has the support of further partners. Unity and the creators of Electron join Microsoft.

Applications written for the Electron platform include Slack, Microsoft Teams and Spotify. From June this year, these electron programs will be able to be compiled automatically and natively on the ARM architecture and (optionally) placed in the Microsoft Store. This is probably the result of Microsoft's efforts, which took care of the Chromium under ARM, and therefore the foundation of the Chrome browser, as well as the Electron platform.

The same is true for the Unity gaming engine. His test version for PC ARM and Windows systems is now ready, and the demos presented at the Qualcomm stand were at 50 fps.

This is very exciting news. In the topic of CPUs for the PC, nothing really interesting has happened for years, and for decades, Intel's monopoly (with the AMD add-on) has not been broken in this market. We are already a few steps away from quite efficient portable PCs, cooled passively and operating for several hours without a charger. And then Intel and AMD can be in huge trouble.

Beware of Intel and AMD. Snapdragon 8cx has just laid the Core i5 chip on the blades


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