In a bid to break into the personal computer market, Qualcomm Inc. has introduced a new laptop processor that aims to outperform competitors like Intel Corp. and Apple Inc., the company announced at a recent event in Hawaii. The new Snapdragon X processor boasts 12 high-performance cores that can crunch data at 3.8 megahertz. According to Qualcomm, it is up to twice as fast as Intel’s similar 12-core processor, while consuming 68% less power.
These developments highlight a highly competitive environment in the computer processor market. Nvidia Corp. is reportedly working on its own central processing unit (CPU), using chip designs from Arm Holdings Plc. Similarly, Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intel’s longtime rival, is developing a new CPU incorporating Arm technology.
Qualcomm’s CEO, Cristiano Amon, sees these developments, along with Apple’s in-house chip efforts, as an endorsement of Qualcomm’s decision to pursue a foothold in PCs. Amon believes that the personal computer market is ripe for embracing Arm technology.
The announcement had a positive effect on Qualcomm’s stock, which initially gained as much as 1.5% following the announcement. However, it experienced a setback during a broader technology market downturn the next day. Despite underperforming in the smartphone chip market due to sluggish demand, Qualcomm remains optimistic about its prospects in the PC market.
The Snapdragon X aims to impress the industry with its superior performance. Qualcomm claims that the new chip can run 50% faster than Apple’s M2, touted as the leading computer processor on the market.
However, Qualcomm will need to back up these audacious claims if it wishes to make inroads in the PC market, where Intel’s technology dominates, especially since AMD licenses Intel’s technology for its own processors.
To date, only Apple’s in-house designs have made significant gains at the expense of Intel’s standard, accounting for just over 10% of industry shipments. Amon believes that the evolving usage patterns of PCs, with a growing focus on communication, combined with the integration of artificial intelligence capabilities like Microsoft’s 365 Copilot, will drive further transformation.
“The entire experience becomes an AI experience,” Amon said. “We just introduced the fastest CPU of any mobile computing device.”
The Snapdragon X chip emerged from Amon’s purchase of startup Nuvia Inc. in 2021. Founded by former Apple executive Gerard Williams, Nuvia brought new chip designs to Qualcomm, reducing its reliance on off-the-shelf technology from Arm.
In addition to its general performance advantages, the new processor will include features specifically tailored for artificial intelligence software. Qualcomm maintains that AI will only reach its full potential if it extends beyond data centers and into end-user devices like phones and PCs.
Nvidia, the leader in data center chips for AI computing, is also seeking to enter the PC processor market. Its PC offering, along with the new Arm chip from AMD, is expected to arrive by 2025.
Meanwhile, Intel finds itself under attack in a market it has dominated since the 1980s. Nonetheless, as one of the world’s largest chipmakers, the company is striving to regain its position through significant investment in new technology under the leadership of CEO Pat Gelsinger.
In a separate announcement, Qualcomm revealed a new version of its Snapdragon 8 lineup for smartphones. This system-on-a-chip (SoC), which includes a processor, modem, and other components, is the first to be designed with AI workloads in mind.
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