Apple M series chips like the M2 Pro and M2 Max in the latest 2023 14-inch MacBook Pro are some of the most powerful in the industry. For some, it has unofficially become the new gold standard for ARM-based chips. But we’ll likely see an Apple M-series competitor if recent alleged leaks are accurate.
as a sister site tom devices (Opens in a new tab) Reports, unnamed sources have reached out to the developer Kuba Wojciechowski (Opens in a new tab) Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4 SoC (System on a Chip) The purported processor promises to have the same effect on top of the line Windows laptops and top PCs as Apple silicon for macOS and iOS.
If all of this is true, this could be huge for the computing world. Here’s why I’m excited about the alleged Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4.
Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4: Claimed specifications
Before moving on, I want to discuss the alleged specifications of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4 that Wojciechowski shared on Twitter.
The chip in question is presumably codenamed “Hamouh”. Wojciechowski also leaked again in November 2022 (Opens in a new tab)This processor has 8 performance cores and 4 energy efficient cores. Qualcomm tests the chip at 3.4GHz (performance cores) and 2.5GHz (effective cores). Each block of 4 cores has 12MB of shared L2 cache. There is also 8MB of L3 cache. Additionally, there is 12MB of system-level cache and 4MB of memory for graphics use cases. For RAM, the onboard controller supports up to 64GB of 8-channel LPDDR5x with optional low-power features up to 4.2GHz.
Leak: Update on Qualcomm’s Apple M competitor – 8cx Gen 4, codename Hamoa 🧵 pic.twitter.com/1tptCk8ghfJanuary 20, 2023
The leak indicates that Qualcomm’s next-generation PC chip will support discrete GPUs via 8 lanes of PCIe 4.0, with another four lanes dedicated to using NVMe storage. This is important because it means you can build a PC with graphics cards like the latest Nvidia RTX 40-series or AMD Radeon RX 7000 GPUs. Wi-Fi 7 will apparently also be supported by a Qualcomm chip, with an external X65 option for those who want cellular connectivity.
The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4 will have an integrated Adreno 740 GPU, which is the same GPU found in Qualcomm’s previous Windows processor on ARM PCs. It supports APIs such as DirectX 12, Vulkan 1.3, OpenCL, and DirectML.
You can read more about the SD 8cx Gen 4 in Wojciechowski’s thread of tweets, but suffice it to say that Qualcomm’s next-gen chip should be a powerhouse if the leaks are accurate.
Computers that are potentially smaller and more energy efficient
Wojciechowski said in his Twitter thread that he hopes to one day discard his bulky desktop computer packing a 300W CPU in favor of something with similar performance using a third of the power and in a form as small as the Mac mini.
This is a feeling I can relate to. I’ve always owned large desktop computers, but after moving into a studio apartment where space is limited, I’m starting to have fun with the idea of having something smaller. To be more specific, the best mini computers like the recently released Apple Mac mini M2 (2023) are getting more and more enticing. And Phone Editor Jordan Palmer’s article on how 2022 was the year of the microcomputer gets me seriously considering making my next microcomputer.
If the SD 8cx Gen 4 is real and delivers Apple M-series-level performance, it could be the deciding factor for me to plunge into the mini PC world. And even if I decided to build a traditional desktop with Qualcomm’s alleged next CPU, I’d probably cut my electric bill if that machine used less power. The latter will probably be what I choose because I still prefer having a PC with a discrete GPU.
The competition is good
Windows ARM computers have been around for over a decade but they haven’t gained much traction. Lenovo ThinkPad X13s, which runs on Qualcomm snapdragon 3 chip, a good demonstration of what an ARM computer can do, but it looks like Windows ARM PCs and laptops aren’t going to be ubiquitous anytime soon.
As I said above, Apple M-series chipsets based on ARM are seen as the current standard for such processors. And found in some of the best MacBooks and best iPads, the chips power some of the most popular computing devices on the market. No wonder Apple M chipsets are so highly regarded.
That’s all well and good, but I hope Qualcomm’s next-gen CPU gives Apple a reason to sweat. Competition is always good, especially if it leads to consumers getting better products at competitive prices. It may take a while for Qualcomm to match Apple — if it ever does. But the prospect makes me hope that the SD 8cx Gen 4 and possible future iterations will deliver the goods.
As usual when it comes to rumors, we have to treat supposed leaks about the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4 with a healthy dose of skepticism. Still, I want these leaks to be legitimate. If Qualcomm could really offer a processor that would fit into Apple’s M series, we’d all be winners.
With the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4 expected to arrive sometime in 2024, we won’t have long to find out if the leaks are true and if the chip is everything the reports say it is.