Qualcomm processors for PCs enhanced by the company's Nuvia
design team will sample in 2022 for devices shipping in 2023,
Qualcomm executives said Tuesday. The company also boldly pledged
to offer Adreno graphics that could compete with desktop PCs.
At the company's 2021 investor day in New York, Dr. James
Thompson, chief technology officer at Qualcomm, offered an overview
of the company's technology roadmap in several areas. A key focus,
naturally, will be how and when Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors
will integrate the Nuvia design team, an Arm CPU developer that Qualcomm acquired in
Processor development takes time, however, and that integration
won't happen immediately. They're pretty far along at this point,
Thompson said, presumably talking about the first Snapdragon
processors featuring Nuvia technology. We'll be sampling a product
nine months from now, or something like that.
Qualcomm had this to
say about its Nuvia-powered Snapdragon CPUs.
Thompson said that Qualcomm's goal was to have the
highest-performing, lowest-power CPU in the industry and that the
new chips would set the performance benchmark for Windows PCs.
Low power, of course, is a goal that Qualcomm has always easily
achieved. Qualcomm's Arm-powered CPUs sip power, using a big-little
mix of performance and efficiency cores that are allocated for
specific tasks and whose overarching design has been mimicked in
Intel's 12th-gen Alder Lake Core chips.
Qualcomm's problem has been that its performance cores have
failed to keep up with X86 designs from AMD and Intel, putting them
in a niche market where performance doesn't matter as much as
battery life. Our tests of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 5G from earlier
showed that it (in the HP Elite Folio) offered performance about on par with the Surface
Pro 3 and its 4th-gen Core chip. Unfortunately, the PC
industry's answer has simply been to add more battery cells to
their designs, making those laptops a bit thicker and heavier but
with more performance, too. Qualcomm Snapdragon chips also haven't been able to keep up with the Apple M1,
a chip that benefits from Apple's more open architectural
Right now, Snapdragon
chips for laptops struggle to keep up with the competition. Image: Mark Hachman / IDG
If you think about the overall technology roadmap, that was the
overall weakness I felt we had for quite a while, Thompson said of
the Snapdragon roadmap before acquiring Nuvia.
Thompson also claimed that the company's graphics technology was
on pace to improve, too. In terms of the Adreno integrated graphics
core onboard the Snapdragon chips, Qualcomm performs somewhat
better against the competition than its CPUs at present somewhere
between an 8th-gen and a 10th-gen Intel Core processor, when
measured by the 3DMark Night Raid benchmark.
Thompson, though, said that Qualcomm could do better. I just
want to make it clear that our graphics will scale up to
desktop-style gaming capabilities, he told investors. He didn't
Thompson had some advice for reviewers, however, noting that the
company's own tests had shown that competing graphics solutions
offered higher benchmark scores when tested just once. When tested
over a prolonged period of time via looped benchmarks, however, he
said that the Snapdragon mobile processors generated better overall
Thompson showed how
Qualcomm's Adreno GPU performance actually improved over time. Image:Qualcomm
Thompson also said that the company will continue to improve its
AI capabilities over time. Today, AI has several applications: It
can be a way in which Google Assistant parses your spoken commands
and queries, or it can be a way in which a photo is computationally
enhanced to bring out detail. The latter is known as semantic
segmentation, and is responsible for the visual improvements that
make skies bluer, sharpens the edges of buildings, and so on.
Thompson also showed an 8K30 video, which he said Snapdragon
processors support, and promised HDR enhancement would arrive