For Windows, Windows has been like the playground of x86 processors. It is true that there have been some other incursions in its field, but the predominant platform of the OS has always been the x86 processors of Intel and other compatible chips (especially AMD). However, Microsoft has been playing with alternative architectures, and the latest is a Windows approach to ARM with its laptops, especially thanks to the new Qualcomm CPU, the 8cx. But before continuing, let’s put things in context.
All our electronic devices are “expressed” in a language. In the case of the Intel and AMD platforms, that language (or architecture) is x86 (or IA-32), and more recently x86-64, the extension compatible with 64 bits. Although x86 is a giant in this field, it is not the only option, and in the last decade ARM processors have occupied a large part of the mobile market. These processors started with low power and performance profiles, ideal for smartphones. As the microchips decreased in size, they also increased in complexity, however small they were, the chips started to become more powerful. With all the ARM platform has advanced, it is normal for Microsoft to strive to make its products compatible with it.
Now we come to Computex 2019, a fair in which Qualcomm has presented a new chip called 8cx that, unlike other ARM chips, it has a power rating of 10 W. With this it enters to compete directly with the series And and U of ultraportable Intel processors. Technically, the 8cx is a SoC, a type of chip that handles all the tasks needed by the system: Kryo 495 eight-core CPU, Adreno 680 GPU, 8-channel LPDDR4x memory controller, support for NVMe and UFS3. 0, USB and Bluetooth, WiFi 6, an LTE modem, signal processing for camera, etc. In addition, the chip is built according to the 7 nm of TSMC, the same as the new Ryzen 3000 processors and the new Radeon 5000 graphics.
The key to Qualcomm’s new SoC is that it is designed to run Windows 10, and in Computex there are laptops that already start up this combination. Windows Central people have tried it and the overall performance is perfect for day-to-day tasks, even for graphics loads such as 4K video decoding at 120 fps. Apparently, even in games is at a similar level to that of an Intel i5-8250U. It is true that the new Ice Lake of the company is designed to optimize energy efficiency, but with this competition, which comes with strength and with a forecast of such considerable growth, Intel must be concerned, at least.