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Qualcomm’s New Snapdragon X Plus: Power Meets Efficiency

Revolutionizing Efficiency in AI and Mobile Computing

Qualcomm is swiftly expanding its ultra-portable PC chip lineup with the new Snapdragon X Plus, following the high-end Snapdragon X Elite. This strategy mirrors Apple’s ARM-based silicon approach but in reverse. Apple started with basic silicon (M1, M2, M3) and added cores to create the M1 Pro (8 cores), M1 Max (10 cores), and M1 Ultra (20 cores). Qualcomm, on the other hand, launched the powerful Snapdragon X Elite in October and is now introducing the X Plus. This premium chip omits some features for affordability and power efficiency.

The Snapdragon X Plus, built on a 4-nanometer process, has 10 cores, unlike the 12 cores in the Elite. The dual-core boost found in the Elite is nearly absent, and the GPU performance is slightly reduced from the Elite’s 4.6 teraflops to 3.8 teraflops.

Despite these changes, Qualcomm’s benchmarks show that the chip, running at 3.4Ghz with 42MB of total cache, matches the performance of Intel’s best mobile CPU, the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, and surpasses it in power efficiency by a claimed 54%. Qualcomm also asserts a 10% performance advantage over Apple’s latest silicon, the M3 chip.

Like the X Elite, the X Plus has a matching onboard neural processing unit (NPU) capable of 45 trillion operations per second (TOPS). Unlike Intel and Apple’s mobile offerings, Qualcomm’s X-series comes with preloaded 5G millimeter wave support and is Wi-Fi 7 ready.

Qualcomm hasn’t disclosed pricing or which systems will feature the Snapdragon X Elite or X Plus. Still, it expects announcements from multiple partners by mid-year, possibly as early as May or June at Computex 2024 in Taiwan.

The X Plus reinforces Qualcomm’s commitment to AI, with a focus on performing as many operations as possible on-device. While no AI operations were demonstrated on the X Plus, Qualcomm showcased the X Elite’s NPU performing Stable Diffusion prompt-based image generation in just one second.

Snapdragon X Plus

AI was also used to automate video tracking mask creation in a video editing app, a task that can be laborious for humans and slow for cloud-based AI solutions. It completed a clip in a few minutes.

A prompt-based music-creation app was used to generate a 5-second music clip inspired by David Bowie. The music was instrumental, but it might have pleased Bowie fans.

In terms of power, the X Plus can support three external 4K monitors while running the base system’s display. This is notable as Apple’s M3-based MacBook Airs can only support two high-resolution displays when the laptop is closed.

On the benchmark side, the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus produced impressive numbers in both Cinebench and Geekbench tests. However, these results are considered anecdotal until Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus-based laptops are tested in the labs.

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