Qualcomm makes 5nm ARM chipsets for Windows laptops

Qualcomm is expanding its range of ARM-based chips for Windows and Chromebook with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and 7c + Gen 3 platforms. In addition, the company aims to power handheld gaming devices with Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 chipsets.

Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, which builds on last year’s Gen 2, is the first 5 nm PC platform designed for ultra-slim and fanless laptops, according to Qualcomm. It is said that the move to a 5nm process node and other tweaks allowed for improved cryo-CPU performance while maintaining power consumption similar to Gen 2 chipsets. The company claims the chipsets will provide up to 85 percent better performance and up to 60 percent better performance per watt than x86 chips compared to the previous generation.

Together with 5G and WiFi 6 / 6E connectivity, the platform should offer several days of battery life, improved camera and audio functions, and chip-to-cloud security. Systems with 8cx Gen 3 chipsets will be able to take advantage of “29+ TOPS of AI acceleration,” which Qualcomm says is three times the performance of the “leading competitive platform”. AI acceleration could speed up tasks like face recognition and background blurring on calls. In addition, Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 supports up to 4K HDR camera quality and up to four cameras.

Qualcomm also says that 8cx Gen 3 will deliver up to 60 percent better performance over previous generation chips for GPU-intensive tasks thanks to the Adreno GPU. You can play games in Full HD at up to 120 frames per second, and Qualcomm claims the platform is optimized so that people can play up to 50 percent longer “than certain competing platforms”.


Snapdragon 7c + Gen 3 was designed for entry-level PCs and Chromebooks, and hit the market just six months after the previous generation. It also supports 5G, both Sub-6 and mmWave, thanks to the Snapdragon X53 5G modem RF system. You can also expect Wi-Fi 6 and 6E support. Qualcomm says the 6nm 7c Gen 3 platform will offer up to 40 percent better CPU performance and up to 35 percent better graphics performance over previous generation chipsets.

ARM-based Windows machines haven’t exactly set the world on fire, and it remains to be seen whether Qualcomm can help turn the corner on the Windows-on-Snapdragon platform with its latest, more powerful options. Devices with the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and 7c + Gen 3 chipsets are expected to hit the market in the first half of 2022.

Qualcomm Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 chipset on a handheld gaming device.


Elsewhere, Qualcomm is taking steps in a new chipset category: gaming handhelds. The Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 Gaming Platform is said to support game streaming from consoles and PCs, cloud gaming services, and Android games and apps. The Adreno GPU can run games at 144 fps and 10-bit HDR, according to the company, while the FastConnect 6900 system offers 5G mm wave and sub-6 and WiFi 6/6E connectivity.

To showcase the platform, Razer worked with Qualcomm on a handheld gaming development kit, available to developers starting today on the Razer website. The device has a 120 Hz, 6.65-inch OLED display with 10-bit HDR support, four-way speakers and an integrated controller. The device can even be used for live streams that contain audio and video feeds from players as it has a 1080p 60 fps camera and two microphones.

Should Snapdragon-powered handhelds hit the market, they’ll compete against Nintendo Switch, Steam Deck, smartphones and tablets. It’s a competitive sector, but it’s growing rapidly, so devices with Qualcomm chipsets can potentially find a niche.

A person sits on rocks at the beach and plays a game on a Razer handheld gaming device.


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