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Qualcomm Announces a 5G Platform for PCs

(Image credit: j.chizhe / Shutterstock)

Qualcomm announced at MWC Barcelona 2019 the Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform to allow PC manufacturers to connect their devices to 5G wireless networks. The hope is that releasing products that support next-gen wireless tech "will modernize how people connect, compute, and communicate with their PCs."

The company has banged this drum before. It revealed the Always Connected PCs category alongside Microsoft in 2018, and despite repeated efforts, the initial run of Snapdragon-powered laptops was a disappointment. (Although some of the blame for that lies with the delayed launch of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.)

But that hasn't stopped Qualcomm and its partners, such as Lenovo, from embracing the Snapdragon 8cx 5G. Lenovo said it plans to release the first laptops built on top of the platform in 2020. Other partners are likely to follow--the Always Connected PC debuted with devices from HP, Asus, Samsung, and other companies.

The promise is pretty much the same as before: Qualcomm wants to blend "smartphone-like capabilities with the power and performance of a premium thin and light PC." That means it's shooting for "multi-gigabit connectivity, multi-day battery life, and performance computing on a mobile device" with the new platform.

Qualcomm claimed the Snapdragon 8cx 5G platform would result in the popularization of private 5G small-cell networks among business users to "allow for a more security-rich, high-performance data link for the next generation of connected applications and experiences for the modern connected worker."

That depends on a lot of factors: the deployment of large-scale 5G networks, businesses seeing the value in using small-cell networks instead of Wi-Fi, and shifting perceptions of Snapdragon-powered PCs. Even then, it's telling that Qualcomm's announcement focused so much on enterprise users. Consumers seem to be an afterthought.

Qualcomm said the Snapdragon 8cx 5G is currently sampling to its customers and that the first commercial devices featuring the platform are expected to debut in "late 2019." Maybe by then people will have finally come around to Qualcomm's vision for a Snapdragon-powered, always connected future of personal computers.