Always-connected PCs to get boost with Snapdragon 8cx

While Qualcomm is best known for powering smartphones, the chip vendor has been fine-tuning its approach to what it calls “always-connected” PCs, and last week announced a new compute platform it sees providing an evolutionary path to 5G-connected PCs and inroads into the enterprise market.

Speaking with media and analysts at the Snapdragon Tech Summit in Wailea, Hawaii, Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon said when 5G gets to the enterprise, driven by the ability to build-out private networks, corporate CIOs will provide PCs to their workforce. He said progress in the ACPC segment isn’t as rapid as he’d like but the technology is ready to go mainstream.

The always-connected part refers to embedded cellular modems that complement Wi-Fi connectivity by connecting a PC to a carrier network. Amon said it’s “difficult for the PC channel to sell connectivity and difficult for the connectivity channel to sell PCs. We don’t think now it is a technology problem. It’s a channel, a marketing, a positioning problem. We have to solve this but be creative about how to position connectivity. At the end of the day we know it’s going to be a better experience. It should be easier because a CIO today, they have a relationship with both the PC companies and the carriers, so we just need to get those two together.”

Sanjay Mehta, Qualcomm’s SVP and GM of Compute Products, called out the disparity in pace of innovation between PCs and smartphones, noting that many people use five year old PCs, which would be unthinkable for a smartphone. He said the PC industry comprises around 160 million units whereas the smartphone figure is closer to 2 billion units. He said Qualcomm is positioned to takes its expertise and IP for CPUs, GPUs, modems, audio, displays and other shared technology and “go into adjacent businesses.”

At the event, Mehta and colleagues announced the 7-nanometer Snapdragon 8cx compute platform sports the X24 gigabit LTE modem which can support download speeds up to 2 Gbps, along with the company’s Adreno 680 GPU and Kryo 495 CPU. This is a premium-tier SoC that will co-exist with the Snapdragon 850, which has the X20 gigibat LTE modem and is used in products like Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2 and the Lenovo Yoga C630.

And, looking ahead, Mehta said, “Just to be clear, 5G is coming to this form factor…and you’ll see it in 2019.”


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