Qualcomm: Snapdragon coming to "all PC form factors," including desktops.

Christiano Amon at Computex
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Qualcomm CEO Christiano Amon has taken the stage at Computex Taipei and detailed the company's AI advances with Snapdragon X Elite and CoPilot+, under the slogan off "The PC Reborn". But the big news is that Qualcomm chips are coming to the desktop.

Amon described the Snapdragon X Elite as "one of the most significant transitions in Windows" stating that he "personally believed it was as significant as the transition to Windows 95 [in the 1990s]" Claiming that the "the next generation PCs are here, now."

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Snapdragon chips were typically used in mobile and low-power devices, but during the presentation, Amon announced that the Snapdragon X and CoPilot+ are "coming to all PC form factors." Qualcomm are working with partners, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft and Samsung, across the myriad of form factors to produce a large range of Snapdragon powered PCs. Many of these devices will be available from June 18.

Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella appears in a video segment to talk about Microsoft's partnership with Qualcomm, specifically AI. Right now there are 20+ Copilot+ PCs available with Snapdragon CPUs that feature NPUs that offer up to 45 TOPS.

Amon moves to a segment on the impact of "The generative AI revolution", claiming that "they will become indispensable" and that "your Windows PC will get better over time." What follows is a video showcasing a setting where an actor interacts with an AI assistant to work and fix home issues while they get ready. Yes it seems like we're not too far away from a Star Trek future. Being serious, this shows a natural conversation between the human and the AI which determines that a dishwasher replacement is required by detecting the issue, determining the cost of replacement versus repair and even being authorized to use a credit card. For the creatives out there, it seems that Qualcomm's vision of the AI future will be able to work with musicians to remove elements of musical tracks and identify chords. Lastly we see the AI assistant working in a coffee shop setting, live translating multiple languages on a video call. Right now all of these segments are science fiction, but they will soon become science fact.

The technology that underpins all of these carefully created scenarios is the NPU (Neural Processing Unit) inside the Snapdragon X Elite. With a 45 TOPS, the Snapdragon X Elite has the fastest NPU for laptops and the leading performance per Watt. Amon claims that the Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus have the same AI performance.

Speed, power consumption and thermals

How does the performance per Watt of the Snapdragon X Elite (X1e-80-100) compare to other CPUs? In a slide, Amon claims that the Snapdragon X Elite has 2.6 times performance per Watt versus Apple's M3 and 5.4 times versus Intel's Core Ultra 7.
Amon talks about how the AI is required to continuously run and that brings three things into consideration. Speed, power consumption and thermals. Leading with thermals we see a slide that showcases the thermal performance of a Snapdragon X Elite laptop versus one running an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H. Using a thermal camera we see the Intel laptop has a noticeable hotspot on the keyboard, with a large chunk of red indicating the hottest part. The Snapdragon X Elite laptop remains rather cool, with just a light yellow patch indicating where it is warm.

What about (speed) performance? In a slide, Amon claims that in a Geekbench single-thread test, Snapdragon X Elite was 51% faster while using 65% less power than an Intel Core Ultra 9 185H. Later in the presentation we see a comparison between the Chrome and Edge browsers, on Intel, AMD and Snapdragon CPUs. Using a Speedometer 2.1 benchmark, Qualcomm claims that its CPUs are 20% faster (Chrome) and 57% faster (Edge) versus an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H. Against an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS, we see a 39% (Chrome), 35% (Edge) improvement when using the Snapdragon X Elite.

Lastly, power consumption. Amon's slide indicates that versus an Intel Core Ultra 7, Snapdragon X Elite has 60% longer battery life for video playback and 70% for video calls. Amon claims that this offers twice the battery life and a time-lapse video demonstrates this to the audience.

Copilot+PCs and Copilot Runtime

Microsoft Corporate Vice-President for Windows + Devices Pavan Davuluri joins Amon on the stage and here is where we get to learn about the Qualcomm and Microsoft partnership for Microsoft's next category of PCs, Copilot+PC. Copilot+PCs are coming first on Snapdragon X PCs.

Davuluri talks about Windows Copilot Runtime, a means for developers to access AI and improve applications such as DaVinci Resolve, a video editing application which is demanding of many PCs, and of course Adobe's Creative Cloud. With Snapdragon X Elite's NPU, a magic mask (to remove elements from a video) in DaVinci Resolve was 4.7 times faster than a 14-core Intel CPU (the exact model was not given.)

These applications are running on Snapdragon X, not their traditional X86 / X86_64 based CPUs, this is thank to the Prism emulator which claims great performance on Snapdragon devices.

Gaming on Snapdragon

Right now, 1,200+ games, including some triple-A games have been tested with the Snapdragon X Elite. These games come from Activision, Blizzard, Epic, remedy, EA, Ubisoft and Xbox studios. We don't see any performance benchmarks, Amon instead talks about the use of NPUs in future games where NPCs can generate interactions using AI.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".

With contributions from
  • GigaHurtz3355
    I really hate these supposed AI demos that are both fictional and also don't do anything new, but just strap a voice interface to existing things. It all looks very Star Trek, but it's not even slightly compelling. For example - We already have voice assistants, and most people don't actually use them.

    A particular annoyance is seeing someone claim AI will magically be able to help you find the chords in a music track. That's already a core function of Melodyne, a professional music production utility. It's really good, has been developed for years specifically for this kind of work. A voice interface is not helpful, because it needs very precise, contextual inputs.
    Reply
  • Notton
    The only reason to get an X Elite mini-PC is if the 80W variant offers a tangible benefit in performance compared to laptops.
    Hopefully TH gets the Snapdragon dev kit to review.
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    Notton said:
    The only reason to get an X Elite mini-PC is if the 80W variant offers a tangible benefit in performance compared to laptops.
    Hopefully TH gets the Snapdragon dev kit to review.
    Grab a 13500t ;) at 35w
    Reply
  • watzupken
    Till we see a proper review of the SnapDragon Elite chip performance, I feel its premature to say that it will be a great chip. Great battery life, I am pretty sure. But will the same chip scale on the desktop with lesser consideration for low power, its questionable. The performance is also very dependent on MS to make sure Windows run nicely with ARM based SOC, and I feel the first gen chips are going to be more like an experiment, i.e. I am not expecting a smooth experience.
    Reply
  • peachpuff
    By desktops they must mean mini pc's...
    Reply
  • cerata
    In a slide, Amon claims that the Snapdragon X Elite has 2.6 times performance per Watt versus Apple's M3 and 5.4 times versus Intel's Core Ultra 7.
    Unless I'm missing something, the accompanying image indicates 2.6× perf/watt for AI tasks, not for general compute.
    Reply
  • Notton
    Amdlova said:
    Grab a 13500t ;) at 35w
    why? I have a 12450H
    Reply
  • Diogene7
    watzupken said:
    Till we see a proper review of the SnapDragon Elite chip performance, I feel its premature to say that it will be a great chip. Great battery life, I am pretty sure. But will the same chip scale on the desktop with lesser consideration for low power, its questionable. The performance is also very dependent on MS to make sure Windows run nicely with ARM based SOC, and I feel the first gen chips are going to be more like an experiment, i.e. I am not expecting a smooth experience.

    I am not confident in great battery life, because of the missing information in the statements…

    Cristiano Amon claims great energy efficiency (battery life) in video playback or AI tasks, but not in other use cases (web browsing, word/excel usages,…).

    Therefore, it is likely that for all other use cases than video/AI, battery life won’t be better, and maybe even worse as otherwise that is something they would have been proud to speak about…

    Also, by now, less than 15 days from PC hardware availability, it is a red flag to me that independant Youtube reviewers didn’t yet get their hands on Snapdragon X Elite PCs and/or not yet allowed to publish independant reviews : if the independent tests were extremely good, you would want potential buyers to be aware of that long in advance (by making sure that well respected Youtubers publicy confirm it), to increase the probability that the potential buyers postpone the purchase of an Intel/AMD computer and instead that they save their money to buy a Snapdragon X Elite PC…

    The fact that there isn’t such review recall previous Snapdragon 8cx launches, and before that, previous Snapdragon 835,… which unfortunately is not a good sign…
    Reply
  • kealii123
    Qualcomm is like a stripper, all tease, no substance. I just want to see reviews of the dang thing!
    Reply