LIVE FROM QUALCOMM SNAPDRAGON TECH SUMMIT 2018, MAUI: Qualcomm debuted a stronger Snapdragon PC platform to rival performance from main competitor Intel, but company president Cristiano Amon acknowledged finding the right sales channel for always connected devices powered by the chip is a challenge which remains to be solved.

The new 7nm Snapdragon 8cx pack a punch with an Adreno 680 GPU Qualcomm said is twice as fast and 60 per cent more power efficient than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 850. The company didn’t provide benchmark data, but said a beefed-up CPU in the 7-watt 8cx now offers comparable performance to Intel’s 15-watt processor. The 8cx also provides memory enhancements, being compatible with Samsung’s LPDDR4X mobile DRAM and offering non-volative memory express (NVMe) to boost performance.

Qualcomm’s new PC processor borrows a number of other elements from the company’s newly released Snapdragon 855 mobile chip, including compatibility for Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5 and Quick Charge 4+. Just like the 855, the 8cx comes with an integrated X24 modem to enable mobile data rates of up to 2Gb/s.

Company executives said the 8cx will be offered alongside the Snapdragon 850 (launched mid-2018) forming a new premium tier of its computing platform.

Opening sales channels
Since Qualcomm announced its always connected PC push in late 2017 it achieved only limited uptake of the technology. In a presentation Sanjay Mehta, SVP and GM of compute products, said the Snapdragon 835 has been used in three PCs, while the Snapdragon 850 features in two with more on the way.

Amon told journalists the company was making progress in the PC segment but “not as fast as we could make”. With the 8cx’s technology upgrades on the table to fill technical gaps, he said the company must now tackle marketing challenges.

“The issue we have right now is it’s very difficult for the PC channel to sell connectivity and it’s very difficult for the connectivity channel now to sell PCs…We don’t think it’s a technology problem now. It’s a channel, a marketing and a positioning problem. We have to solve this by being creative about how we position the connectivity.”

Snapdragon 8cx is expected to begin shipping in commercial devices in Q3 2019.