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Qualcomm Intros Snapdragon X Plus, Details Complete Snapdragon X Launch Day Chip Stack

Qualcomm Intros Snapdragon X Plus, Details Complete Snapdragon X Launch Day Chip Stack

As Qualcomm prepares for the mid-year launch of its upcoming Snapdragon X SoCs for PCs, and the eagerly-anticipated Orion CPU core inside, the company is finally moving forward with its official product plans, and It is releasing some additional technical details in the process. Thus far, the company is showcasing its Snapdragon X Elite SoC in its highest-performance, fully functional configuration. But the retail Snapdragon X Elite won't be a part. Instead, Qualcomm is developing a whole range of chip configurations for different price/performance levels in the market. In total, there will be 3 Snapdragon X Elite SKUs that differ in CPU and GPU performance.

Also, the company is introducing a second Snapdragon X tier, the Snapdragon X Plus, for SKUs positioned below the Elite Performance tier. As of today, this will be a single configuration. But if the Snapdragon X lineup is successful and demand warrants it, I wouldn't be surprised to see Qualcomm expand it further – as they've certainly left room for it in their product stack. Meanwhile, with Qualcomm's expected launch competition now shipping (Intel Core Ultra Meteor Lake and AMD Ryzen Mobile 8040 Hawk Point), the company is also very confident that even these lower-performance Snapdragon X Plus chips will be able to beat Intel and AMD in multi-threaded performance — never mind the higher-end Snapdragon X Elite chips.

Qualcomm will launch this expanded quad-chip stack simultaneously. So both Snapdragon X Elite And Snapdragon X Plus tier devices should be available at the same time. The company's goal is still to have the devices on shelves “by mid-year,” though the company isn't providing more precise guidance than that. With Qualcomm's CEO, Cristiano Amon, set to deliver a Computex keynote in June, I expect we'll get more specific details about the timing, as well as the event, with the company and its partners. will announce and showcase some retail laptop designs using So it's looking like the start of summer right now.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm is already showing what its Snapdragon X Plus chips can do with a fresh set of live benchmarks. Snapdragon X Elite performance review from October 2023. We'll dive into those in a bit, but suffice it to say, Qualcomm knows the score, and they want to make sure the whole world knows when they're winning.

The Snapdragon X chipset, the X Elite gets a nerf, and the X product number decoder

With the Snapdragon X family now consisting of four SKUs, the Snapdragon X Elite name won't do it on its own. So Qualcomm is giving official product numbers to all chips. And since this is the first time Qualcomm has done this for PC SoCs, it also comes with the need to explain their product numbering scheme, and how to decode it.

Using Qualcomm's flagship chip as an example, we have the X1E-84-100. With the first letter referring to the product family (Snapdragon X), the second letter/number is the generation of the product – in this case, the first generation of Snapdragon X. So that's where we'll see Qualcomm essentially add to its product. Numbering future generations is how the company decides to define them.

Then there is the rank. Which is currently Elite (E) or Plus (P).

Finally, we have two sets of digits. The first set are SKU numbers, basically ordering the chips by performance. And the second set of digits is being saved for now by the company for future use. For all chip SKUs introduced today, regardless of tier or performance, everything will have the same -100 suffix.

This is a very sterile naming system at first, but logical. The reserved part of SKU names makes for relatively long names overall – especially since it's not playing a major role yet – but I don't expect Qualcomm to put it to good use on paper at first. Will keep some existing plans without. In practice, then, these first two sections are going to be informative sections for now.

With that in mind, let's take a look at Qualcomm's Snapdragon X launch stack.

Qualcomm Snapdragon X (Gen 1) processors
Anandtech CPU core All Core Max Turbo Two Core Max Turbo GPU TFLOPS NPU Tops Total Cash
(MB)
memory
Snapdragon X Elite
X1E-84-100 12 3.8 GHz 4.2 GHz 4.6 45 42 LPDDR5X-8448
X1E-80-100 12 3.4 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.8 45 42 LPDDR5X-8448
X1E-78-100 12 3.4 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.8 45 42 LPDDR5X-8448
Snapdragon X Plus
X1P-64-100 10 3.4 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.8 45 42 LPDDR5X-8448

The Snapdragon X chip family is being divided into tiers based on the number of CPU cores. All Elite chips are fully active parts (on the CPU side) with all 12 Orion CPU cores active. Meanwhile the single Plus chip (so far) drops two of those CPU cores and leaves it with 10.

Rounding out the chip stack is the fastest, fully functional Snapdragon X Elite chip, X1E-84-100. It includes all the performance and functionality of the Snapdragon X Elite, as Qualcomm has been showing so far, including a 45-tops NPU and 42MB of total system cache.

Compared to their October demo, however, there are a few key points to point out – areas where the chip's specs have been reduced. First and foremost, the peak dual-core clock speed on the chip (which Qualcomm calls Dual Core Boost) will only be 4.2GHz, rather than the 4.3GHz clock speed we saw in Qualcomm's initial demo. The LPDDR5X memory frequency has also taken an odd hit, with the chip topping out at the LPDDR5X-8448, rather than the LPDDR5X-8533 data rate we saw last year. That's all of 85MHz or 1GB/second of memory bandwidth, but that's an unexpected change since the 8448 isn't a typical LPDDR5X speed grade.

Qualcomm has not offered an explanation for the lower specifications. I can only assume that they had a hard time getting chips with CPU cores that could reach the 4.3GHz that the company was initially hoping for, especially given the rest of the chip stack. . High-IPC CPU designs are inherently at odds with high clock speeds, so Qualcomm's Nivea design team is targeting some pretty high IPCs with the Orion, it seems, as its top chip. along with going to their practical clock speed limits.

The flagship SKU is next X1E-80-100. This part is still fully functional from a hardware perspective, but it drops in both CPU and GPU clock speeds. On the CPU front, dual-core Turbo Boost is now 4.0GHz, a 200MHz (5%) decrease; The All-Core Turbo, meanwhile, is limited to 3.4GHz, a significant 400MHz (11%) drop from the flagship Elite chip.

As for the GPU, this SKU has a rated throughput of 3.8 TFLOPS, which is just 0.8 TFLOPS (17%) below the flagship chip. Currently, Qualcomm hasn't revealed the number of GPU blocks/cores in its Snapdragon X die, so it's unclear if this is just a reduction in GPU clock speeds, or if they're disabling GPU cores in the process. have been. By PC standards though, it would be unusual not to have at least one chip SKU that could be used for salvageable dies with failed GPU cores.

Rounding out the Elite SKUs. X1E-78-100. This chip further affects CPU performance in lightly threaded workloads. Notably, this SKU does away with dual-core boost entirely, meaning that none of the 12 Orion CPU cores on the chip clock in above the all-core Turbo limit of 3.4GHz. Compared to the X1E-80-100, that's a 600MHz (15%) clock speed drop in lightly threaded workloads – or an 800MHz (19%) drop overall compared to the flagship Elite chip.

Finally, we have the single Snapdragon X Plus chip SKU X1P-64-100, this chip is similar to the lower-end Elite chip in everything but the CPU core count. Instead of all 12 Orion CPU cores, there are only 10 active. Otherwise the specification is identical to the Elite chips, and no memory bandwidth, cache, or even the NPU is touched. Even the GPU performance/configuration is similar to mid-range and low-elite chips. So the only thing this chip loses on paper is multi-threaded performance.

Overall, Qualcomm's decision to configure its Snapdragon X chipset this way is definitely an interesting one. When it comes to configuring their lower-level SKUs, AMD and Intel have traditionally cut their CPU clock speeds by smaller increments, paired with broader increases in CPU core counts. Is. The Core Ultra-H's peak clock speed drops by 12%, for example, while the Ryzen 8040HS only drops by 6%.

The net effect of this is that every step down the Elite SKU stack is going to come with a significant drop in light-threaded or heavy-threaded performance (depending on the SKU), from what we typically see. The drop in dual-core turbo clock speeds is particularly surprising, as system responsiveness is usually closely tied to the performance of lightly threaded CPUs. So we'll see how this all shows up in performance benchmarks once the Snapdragon X family is launched.

Otherwise, most other aspects of the entire stack remain constant. Qualcomm never touches their NPU configuration, cache configuration, or memory speed. On top of that, the fact that the 10-core Plus still has 42MB of total cache confirms that Qualcomm is using some sort of shared L2 for its CPU core clusters, which is why it loses two CPU cores. has no effect on the L2 cache. I suspect we're looking at 12MB of L2 per cluster, with 6MB of LLC on top of that, but there are several configurations that could work here – and which Qualcomm hasn't specified further at this time.

Qualcomm is also not officially confirming whether the Snapdragon X Plus uses the same die as the Snapdragon X Elite. But given the incredibly similar specs and that all four SKUs are launching at the same time, it's a foregone conclusion that it's all using Qualcomm's early Snapdragon X die. Overall this is par for the course for the company, as they have historically declined to reveal when their mobile SKUs have shared the die. The company is still focused on features and SKUs first and foremost with a tendency to reduce core hardware.

At the same time, these SKU announcements give us more details about some other minor hardware features of the SoC. Qualcomm's display controller – part of their Adreno DPU block – supports 4 display outputs. It allows a single internal display up to 4K@120Hz with 3 external displays up to 4K@60Hz. Alternatively, only 5K@60Hz is supported when using 2 external displays. Given that Qualcomm is aiming the Snapdragon X to compete with Apple's M3 SoC, a chip that's somewhat infamous for only supporting two displays, Qualcomm is keen to highlight its display controller advantage. He is anxious.

In contrast, driving the image acquisition side of the SoC will be a pair of Qualcomm's 18-bit Spectra ISPs. Since this smartphone isn't SoC and won't be connected to anything like a flagship smartphone camera, the capabilities aren't as heavy as we see with the likes of the Snapdragon 8 family. But Snapdragon X chips will still support a single camera sensor of up to 64MP, or dual sensors of up to 36MP. And while the primary storage for these devices will be NVMe SSDs that will ride on the previously revealed PCIe 4 bus, Qualcomm is also confirming that the SoC offers UFS 4.0 and SD 3.0 memory interfaces, which if will be used for removable storage.

Finally, it should be noted that Qualcomm is not assigning any TDP to these SKUs. Officially, the entire Snapdragon X range is suitable for everything from thin and light ultrabooks to high TDP productivity laptops, all depending on how the OEM decides to configure and cool the system. does. So there is no U/H/HS distinction, like we see with AMD and Intel. That said, given that power consumption scales massively with performance, the Pulse is going to be the lowest-powered chip, if only by virtue of having the lowest performance and clock speeds.

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