Will X Mark The Spot for Qualcomm and the Snapdragon X Series?

Apple’s revolutionary move to its M-series chipsets heralded a new era of computing with the MacBook Air in 2022, but Qualcomm and Microsoft are finally about to reply. Ahead of its Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii at the end of the month, Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon X Series today as the new brand encompassing its computing efforts.

What is the Snapdragon X Series?

The new platform is based on the Oryon CPU technology acquired as part of Nuvia in 2021. That company was founded by engineers who had formally worked on Apple’s A-series iPhone and iPad chips, and the result is the Snapdragon X Series, which is focused on Windows PCs.

The biggest benefit derived from Apple’s M-series chips has been the performance, portability, and battery improvements compared to the previous Intel-powered machines. Apple Macs have become more powerful, slimmer, and sleeker and offer considerably longer battery life, all without major price increases. If Qualcomm’s platform can offer this, it may have the transformative effect that the Windows ecosystem needs.

Qualcomm first explored the PC market with the Snapdragon 835 and 850 chipsets, but its main efforts to challenge Intel’s dominance came with the Snapdragon 8cx, which was announced in December 2018 and launched late the following year. 

The Snapdragon X Series will also include Qualcomm’s GPU solution and NPU, which “will deliver accelerated on-device user experiences for the new era of generative AI.” Microsoft is expected to launch Windows 12 next year with a significant focus on AI – no surprise given the announcements with Bing and ChatGPT this year – and the Snapdragon X Series could be best placed to take advantage. A report from SemiAccurate suggests that this could be the case with the Oryon CPUs outperforming Apple’s M2 chip.

Does X Mark The Spot?

Microsoft understands it, but I’ve often felt like Intel and Qualcomm don’t truly: branding matters. Consider the naming structure used by Intel and Qualcomm in the Windows hardware ecosystem. A 13th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-13700H powers the XPS 15 released last year, whereas the latest Snapdragon offering is the 8cx Gen 3 processor. None of these are as consumer-friendly as the M1, M2 / Pro / Max / Ultra nomenclature Apple uses. 

Customers understand branding that is easy to follow from year to year, not complicated technical numbers, and the battle for both Intel and Qualcomm is to be desired by customers. The Snapdragon X Series allows Qualcomm to take the same approach as Apple: Snapdragon X1 with different levels and an increased base processor number each year. Intel partially achieved this with its iX branding in earlier years, although this has now been unnecessarily complicated for all but the biggest enthusiasts. 

I hope this also means we’ll see them drop the half-step updates – denoted by the + symbol in their “8 series” mobile processors – in favor of an even simpler naming scheme. A simple naming scheme will make Snapdragon X-powered devices easy to identify and differentiate, making the customer purchase journey far easier.

We’ll learn more about the Qualcomm Snapdragon X Series later this month. Still, while we expect to see the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor for flagship smartphones, the Snapdragon X Series is bound to be the star of this year’s Snapdragon Summit. Check out the Snapdragon X Series teaser video by Qualcomm below.