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Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx 4th generation specifications emerge, support for a discrete GPU

At the end of 2021, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 8cx 3rd generation, the first 5nm chip for Windows on ARM devices. It uses an ARM-designed core, so its performance is not too different from that of its siblings used in Android. But soon Qualcomm’s leap in performance with ARM chips will be reflected in the 8cx Gen 4 through the acquisition of Nuvia.

As reported in previous rumours, the company is working on a 12-core chip. According to Kuba Wojciechowski, it will be split into eight performance (around 3.4GHz) and four efficiencies (around 2.5GHz) cores. They are based on the Nuvia codename “Phoenix” design and will use the marketing name “Oryon” (instead of “Kryo” as in the current Android chips).

Snapdragon 8cx 4th Gen will have 12MB of shared L2 cache per 4 cores, plus 8MB of Level 3 cache, 12MB of system-level cache and an additional 4MB of graphics cache. Up to 64GB of LPDDR5X memory will be supported in an 8-channel configuration running at 4.2GHz. Nuvia originally designed chips for servers (and still does), and these chips can often manage large amounts of RAM.

The chipset will have a built-in Adreno 740, the same GPU as the 8 Gen 2. However, it supports external GPUs for its 8 PCIe 4.0 lanes (v4.0 is twice as fast as PCIe 3.0). Support for video decoding up to 4K/120fps and various codecs up to 4K/60fps, including AV1 (Apple’s M2 chip lacks this feature).

Four additional PCIe 4.0 lanes (which can also be configured as two 2x lanes) are used for NVMe drives and 2 lanes of UFS 4.0 storage (up to 1TB) are also supported as a cheaper option. The chip will also have additional PCIe 3.0 lanes for peripherals such as Wi-Fi NICs or modems. 8cx Gen 4 will not have built-in 5G (unlike its Android counterpart).

The wired connectivity also seems to be outstanding. The chip supports two USB 3 10Gbps ports, plus three USB 4 (Thunderbolt 4) ports and DisplayPort 1.4a. The latter will make it possible to drive three high-resolution displays: 5K+4K+4K.

The Adreno 740 will be available for machine learning tasks, as will the upgraded Hexagon Tensor processor, which delivers up to 45 TOPS in INT8. The tricky part is getting support for it on Windows, but Qualcomm is working with Microsoft and Adobe to fix that.

The Snapdragon 8cx fourth generation is expected to launch in 2024, explaining that it will power Windows laptops and tablets (and possibly mini PCs). Qualcomm has promised to announce more official details of the new chip later this year.

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