Qualcomm launches the Snapdragon X Elite, its most powerful chip ever

Qualcomm unveiled a significant addition to its mobile chip lineup at the annual Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii—the Snapdragon X Elite. Touted as the company’s most powerful processor to date, the Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite serves as the successor to the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 laptop chips, which have undergone a name change to reflect their impressive performance leap.

Read: Nvidia aim to take on Intel with ARM-based PC chips

With its 12 Oryon cores, the Snapdragon X Elite is designed to outpace Intel’s 13th-gen Core i7-1360P and i7-1355U processors, offering up to double the CPU performance while drawing 68 percent less power. Manufactured using a 4nm design by TSMC, the chip boasts standard clock speeds of 3.8GHz, with a dual-core boost reaching 4.3GHz. Accompanying this power is 42MB of total cache and an LPDDR5x memory bandwidth of 136 GB/s. Qualcomm claims that the Snapdragon X Elite achieves 50 percent faster peak multithreaded performance compared to Apple’s M2 chip, and its integrated GPU offers twice the graphics performance of the i7-13800H at ISO power.

The chip also benefits from an AI Engine, which significantly enhances machine learning tasks. Combining the Oryon CPU, Adreno GPU, and Hexagon NPU, the X Elite delivers up to 75 TOPs, which Qualcomm asserts is 4.5 times more than competitors. Notably, the chip can run large language models with up to 13 billion parameters locally, offering the fastest Stable Diffusion performance of any laptop chip currently available. The Snapdragon X Elite also supports AV1 4K HDR video encoding/decoding, 5G connectivity with download speeds of up to 10 Gbps, Wi-Fi 7, and Qualcomm’s built-in Sensing Hub.

Qualcomm’s aim with the Snapdragon X Elite is to better compete with rivals like Intel and, more specifically, Apple. The chip is the culmination of several years of development since Qualcomm acquired Nuvia in 2021, ultimately leading to the creation of the powerful Oryon cores.

However, Qualcomm faces a significant challenge in translating these impressive specs into real-world performance. Unlike Apple, Qualcomm cannot control both its chip and the software/OS running on its processors. Windows on Arm devices, for example, have historically felt less responsive compared to traditional x86-based counterparts.

Despite this challenge, retail PCs powered by the Snapdragon X Elite are expected to arrive in mid-2024, providing an opportunity to assess how Qualcomm’s latest laptop chip performs in practical use.