This week, Qualcomm announced that it will be rebranding its next-generation ARM processor with the name, “Snapdragon X” — the letter every tech executive seem to love. This comes in preparation for their annual “Snapdragon Summit,” an event that will surely expand upon the aforementioned “X” chip and its capabilities.
Qualcomm have long played second-fiddle to their main competition, Apple, over the years as far as chip speeds go; with even the latest benchmarks often siding with the the Cupertino company when it comes to sheer numbers. Not to mention they also seem to lag behind the likes of Intel and AMD as well when it comes to PC SoC’s. This gap with Apple, however, widened notably in 2020 when Apple took the tech world by storm with their “M1” chip, taking leaps instead of strides beyond what their since-severed partnership with Intel could have brought. Apple made another leap just recently, announcing that their newest iPhone 15 Pro Max devices equipped with the A17 Pro chips will be capable of playing some of the newest triple-A video games from the likes of Resident Evil 4 Remake and Assassin’s Creed Mirage. This is a feat that Android users equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which though a fast chip, could only dream of having come to fruition on their devices.
So what could make this upcoming “X” chip that much different from Qualcomm’s previous outings? Well, these will be the first set of chips after the company’s acquisition of Nuvia. Announced in 2021, Qualcomm touted in their blog post that, “NUVIA comprises a proven world-class CPU and technology design team, with industry-leading expertise in high performance processors, Systems on a Chip (SoC) and power management for compute-intensive devices and applications.”
What they left out of that statement, however, was that the “world-class CPU and technology design team” was allegedly comprised of many former Apple engineers; more specifically those that supposedly worked first-hand on the M1 chip. Apple had sued NUVIA co-founder Gerrard Williams III—a former iPhone and iPad designer—in 2019 for breaching contract and allegedly using his access to Apple information and their staff to start NUVIA. The suit has since been dropped by Apple, though whether Williams was successful in poaching some of Apple’s engineers is still unconfirmed; but would be a substantial gain for Qualcomm if true, making this upcoming “X” chip all the more intriguing.
Qualcomm have yet to prove themselves as far as their ARM chips on PC’s go, continually lagging behind the likes of Intel, AMD, and Apple. However, this could be the moment that pushes the company to walk in tandem with their long-time competitors, and have it be their “Apple Moment” as far their chips go. Though all of this, for right now, is just speculation. We’ll have to wait for Qualcomm’s upcoming “Snapdragon Summit” to see what happens and if the hype holds up.