Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus may be the laptop chip of Intel and Apple’s nightmares

Qualcomm isn’t wasting any time filling out its ultra-portable PC chip roster, adding a new Snapdragon X Plus range to slide in behind its still-fresh and high-end Snapdragon X Elite.

If this mobile PC SoC approach sounds similar, that’s because Qualcomm is taking almost the same approach as Apple with its ARM-based silicon, but in reverse. Where Apple chose to start with its most basic silicon: M1, M2, M3, and then add cores to build out – for instance, the M1 Pro (8 cores), M1 Max (10 cores), and M1 Ultra (20 Cores) – Qualcomm launched what might be its most powerful Snapdragon X chip, the X Elite, in October and is now following with the X Plus, a still-premium chip that strips out a few features in the name of affordability and power efficiency.

Instead of the 12 cores found in the Elite, the 4-nanometer process Snapdragon X Plus features 10 cores. The Dual-core boost found on the Elite is almost missing. Finally, GPU performance is dialed back a bit from the Elite’s 4.6 teraflops to 3.8 teraflops.

Even so, according to Qualcomm’s benchmarks the chip, which runs at 3.4Ghz with 42MB of total cache, performs well enough to match the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, Intel’s best mobile CPU, while still outperforming it on power efficiency by a claimed 54%. Qualcomm also claims a 10% performance margin over Apple’s newest silicon, the M3 chip. Qualcomm told me that they’ve found the X Elite significantly outperforms the top-tier Intel Core Ultra 7 155H in a direct performance and efficiency comparison.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus

(Image credit: Future)

Like the X Elite, the X Plus has a matching onboard neural processing unit (NPU) and is capable of 45 trillion operations per second (TOPS). Unlike the mobile competition from Intel and Apple (on the desktop and laptop side), Qualcomm’s X-series also comes preloaded with 5G millimeter wave support and is also Wi-Fi 7 ready.

Qualcomm isn’t ready to talk about price points or which partner systems will feature either the Snapdragon X Elite or X Plus, but told me we should be seeing announcements from multiple partners by mid-year – with some expected as soon as May or June when PC manufacturers gather in Tawain for Computex 2024.

The X Plus should also further cement Qualcomm’s commitment to the AI race but with the twist of performing as many operations as possible on-device. While I didn’t see any AI operations on the newly announced X Plus, Qualcomm did show me X Elite systems (which feature the exact same NPU) performing Stable Diffusion prompt-based image generation in, even by my count, one second. I asked the generative image platform for a man sharing an apple with a gorilla while sitting on Mount Everest. The result was almost instantaneous, but the final image was of two apes fighting over a red apple while standing on a mountain.

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I saw the AI help a video editing app automatically create a video tracking mask, a task that can be painstaking for humans and slow for cloud-based AI solutions. I watched it finish a clip in a few minutes.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus

(Image credit: Future)

We also used a prompt-based music-creation app to generate a David Bowie-infused 5-second music clip. No vocals, but the music might’ve pleased the Thin White Duke.

As for pure power, I watched some impressive console-level gameplay on the Elite and Qualcomm claims the X Plus can support three external 4K monitors and still run the base system’s display. It’s an important claim since Apple’s M3-based MacBook Airs can support two high-resolution displays, but only while the laptop is closed.

On the benchmark side, I watched as the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus churned through both Cinebench and Geekbench to produce some impressive numbers. Of course, I consider this all anecdotal until we get some Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus-based laptops in the labs ourselves – so wait until we get our hands on one!

@techradar Innovation Technology – ZydSounds

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