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Qualcomm announces budget-friendly Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform

Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform
Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform (Image credit: Qualcomm)

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform.
  • The platform is aimed at entry-level PCs for first-line workers, education, and budget devices where LTE is needed.
  • Lenovo is mentioned as a key launch partner for new laptops coming later this year.
  • The first devices based on the 7c Gen 2 is due this summer.

Following earlier rumors in March, Qualcomm has finally announced its Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform, aimed at entry-level and budget laptops.

The original Snapdragon 7c was announced back in December 2019, but didn't hit the market until summer 2020.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen2 Logo

Source: Qualcomm (Image credit: Source: Qualcomm)

Destined for always-connected Windows PCs and Chromebooks, the new chip brings improved performance, although Qualcomm is remiss to define that precisely. But besides performance, Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 brings "enhanced camera and audio capabilities, integrated LTE connectivity, AI acceleration (5th Gen), enterprise-grade security features." In other words, the chips are supposed to have all-around improved hardware support, but, again, specific changes are not noted in the press release.

Laptops based on Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 are targeted at "education users, first-line workers, and everyday light consumers," where pricing is critical. Two-in-one PCs like the LTE-enabled JP.IK Turn T101 starts at just $299, whereas the Positivo Wise N1212S begins at $575 – both of which ran the original Snapdragon 7c Gen 1.

Source: Qualcomm (Image credit: Source: Qualcomm)

For performance, Qualcomm notes Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 "is up to ten percent faster system performance over most competing platforms," referring to Intel's budget line of processors like the dual-core Celeron N4020, quad-core Pentium Silver N5030 as well as MediaTek's octa-core ARM-based MT8183 used in Android-based tablets. Additionally, Qualcomm boasts about it getting "up to 2 times the battery life of most competing platforms."

As to which companies will adopt Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, Lenovo is mentioned as launching new devices with the affordable chip "later this year." That is perhaps not too surprising as Lenovo just participated in a roundtable with Qualcomm on the future of the PC, making them a key partner in ARM adoption. The first device, manufacturer un-specified, with Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, is due this summer.

Besides the new Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, Qualcomm also announced a new Snapdragon Developer Kit for Windows, and an ARM-optimized Zoom app for video calls, both set to arrive this summer.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

30 Comments
  • You can see the Microsoft play here. No need for Windows 10 X as much if these devices are lightweight, cost less, and perhaps they can wave the cost of Windows licence fee for them (or perhaps specifically if used for education) and thus make them an attractive, affordable alternative to Chromebooks in this sector.
  • This seems like a disappointment.
  • I would hope to see an inexpensive Surface based 7c device
  • Surface Laptop Go 2? The first one was made for ARM. A tonne of people live in a Browser or Office or Remote Desktop or Citrix
  • I would love to know if they have moved on with the core design or if it is just an overclocked gen 1. They appear to really be neglecting the market and just not investing in keeping the 8cx and its juniors on the current design node.
  • "just an overclocked gen 1"
    I'm not sure it's overclocked, but yes, clocked higher, no different than 8cx Gen 2 (150 MHz for that one). Otherwise, it'd have a whole new name.
    "They appear to really be neglecting the market and just not investing in keeping the 8cx and its juniors on the current design node."
    Versus who? AMD is doing nothing new in the $300 price point, neither is Intel. Apple has no laptops at $300 either. It took Apple 10 years to get to the M1. It took AMD 4 years to hit 7nm (after first done by IBM in 2015). The fact is designing and mass-producing chips is very hard, which his exactly why there is now a chip shortage globally. Yes, this market moves slow (IBM just announced 2nm chips, but we won't see that probably for another 4 years). And Qualcomm only bought Nuvia in January, which m eans 2+ years before we see the fruits fo that purchase too. This stuff is a journey, not a sprint. Windows 7 64-bit came out in 2009. Google Chrome 64-bit came out in 2014. This stuff moves slow until the market sees higher demand.
  • I wouldn't count on the "whole new name" thing. Based on the leaked benchmarks, the next generation of 8cx, for example, will be called 8cx Gen 3. It's just that even number updates have been minor ones so far (previous gen with a higher clock speed). The next low cost PC chip from Qualcomm will also likely be called 7c Gen 3.
  • tbf, that is likely true at third-gen 8cx/SQ3 is supposed to be on par with i7-10875H and is based on Cortex-A78C / 5nm. It'll be a big jump over SQ1.
  • Intel did not revamp their foundry business to sit around and let Qualcomm take the low-end PC business. Do I believe Intel will let MSFT spend the R&D to design a chip with Intel IP? Then let Intel build the chip? Sure. Do I think MSFT will do the same thing with QUALCOMM? Sure. It will take time as you said. Intel's foundry business is focused on a lot more industries than just the PC/Datacenter business. And Intel can use its 14nm node to provide a ton of business to many industries.
  • "tbf, that is likely true at third-gen 8cx/SQ3 is supposed to be on par with i7-10875H and is based on Cortex-A78C / 5nm. It'll be a big jump over SQ1." Will it ultimately matter though? Serious question because SQ1 is no slouch when it's using apps built for ARM. It's problem is with x86 apps. That's not changing though. Thanks
  • If total cpu speed is improved than translation will be faster too (in absolute terms, which in the end matters the most).
  • So it's going to be like dual-core Celeron N4020(which is frastrating slow) with emulated win32 compatibility and expect from the OEMs to build cheap PCs for education market.Where are those first generation WOA devices except surface pro x that OEMs build? Well very few people bought them and now eBay is full of second hand Lenovo's,HPs, Surfaces X etc at extremely 🔅 w prices because they were slow and had the compatibility issues that made the situation even worse.once again how did apple made that M1 so fast even with if it runs software in an emulated eviroment,it's frustrating.and not fair.
  • "how did apple made that M1 so fast even with if it runs software in an emulated eviroment,it's frustrating.and not fair."
    Apple has been doing its own ARM chips for a decade (A4 came out in 2010) - why did it take them so long to ditch Intel instead of having a mediocre laptop in 2017? I don't see that getting asked a lot 🤔 You mean after 7 years they couldn't put an ARM chip in a laptop despite designing its own chips and owning the software stack? 🙀 Instead, we had to wait ten years. Furthermore, Apple doesn't emulate, they use a different method call translation, which they can do because they built the software and hardware stack to more closely work together. The M1 isn't magic. It's a fast chip at 5nm. As Qualcomm moves to 5nm (same with Samsung) e.g. SD 888, you'll begin to see similar performance gains especially once it steps to Cortex-A78C for PC. We haven't had an ARM PC on 5nm, but we will later this year. Current laptop ARM chips are bigLITTLE design with 4/4; new ARM laptops chips can be 0/8 big.
  • Daniel, I get some of what you are saying BUT. Qualcomms chips are not even competitive with Apples non M1 designs.
    Qualcomm has been building ARM chips for a decade. We are still waiting from something other than a pile of steaming dog crap from Qualcomm (or anyone else) and Windows as a competitor to Apple.
  • Qualcomm has been building ARM chips for a decade.
    No, they've been doing phone processors for over a decade. No one asked Qualcomm to make a PC chip in 2014 or 2015. They've been getting into PCs only since 2017 (when nudged by Microsoft) and even then the first PC ARM chip was literally just a SD835 clocked higher. The Snapdragon 850 was just a modified SD845. The first 'designed for PC' chip wasn't until the 8cx, which was announced in December 2018. It's been 2.5 years. Even then, it didn't hit an actual device until early 2020 (Galaxy Book S).
    Qualcomms chips are not even competitive with Apples non M1 designs.
    M1 is 5nm. Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2/SQ2 is 7nm. Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3/SQ3 will be 5nm. You'll see the gap start to close (I think Apple will still win, but Gen 3 is supposed to be 3x as fast as Gen 1). And? The PC market is still 80+% in favor of Windows. Apple won't sell enough M1 macs to make a dent in the PC market for another 5 years - and that assumes Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm standstill (they won't; even AMD is working on an ARM processor; NVIDIA is going to make RTX compatible with ARM; Samsung is going to use Exynos with AMD this year). This is the problem with consumers: you guys look at 1 quarter and think that's the market. That's all that matters. You're not looking at 2, 3 or 5 years out.
  • Not sure why you are so combative and arrogant, calm down. Apple has not been making ARM PC processors for over a decade. And ARM is an instruction set. None of Qualcomms ARM designs have been competitive with Apple.
    Traditionally they have been 1-2 generations behind Apples ARM designs.
    The M1 just made the gap biggger. 5nm vs 7nm does not have much impact on the instruction set design, its more impactful on chip density.
    And as Intel has shown you can still be competitive with less density if your architecture is good enough. Regardless I am no Apple champion, I refuse to buy their products.
    And you can call me a or others as just a "consumer" but thats just being ignorant.
    I have not been looking at 1 quarter or even a few, I've been watching this play out over years. As a software architect I do work with plenty of technology from hardware to software to have a deeper understanding that probably even you. As a Microsoft developer its infuriating how disjointed that company is on the inside.
    They have a culture of internal competitiveness and dont work well together.
    So many failed products and missed attempts. If Microsoft had been looking far enough out (as you seem to think we dont) we would not be having this very problem right now.
  • "Not sure why you are so combative and arrogant, calm down."
    I'm explaining the history and not name-calling, that's on you.
    "Apple has not been making ARM PC processors for over a decade."
    First, Apple doesn't make processors. It designs them. TSMC makes them. But sure, I know it's just off-hand comment and I'm being pedantic there. Second, at any point, they could have designed a PC chip if they wanted to, but it took them 10 years to get to that point. Those are facts. Why didn't Apple design a PC chip for 2017? 🤷‍♂️ Probably because it's really hard. They are in an enviable position, however, of designing its own chips, hardware, and doing that with software. Microsoft doesn't have that luxury, as it has to work with partners. We all know Apple is better there (Apple can also dump 32-bit app support willy nilly).
    "5nm vs 7nm does not have much impact on the instruction set design, its more impactful on chip density."
    But the jump to Cortex-A78C (2021) vs the current old Cortex A-76 (2018) does make a difference. And that jump also relates to the jump from 7nm to 5nm. It'll be the first PC ARM chip to support up to 8 big CPU core clusters instead of 4/4. It'll also support the new Mali-G78 GPU. Will it make up for poor emulation? Probably not. But it's likely to be a big step up, too. But look, overall, I get it. This stuff moves slow. I wish ARM PCs were better than they are, but it's going to take time (read: years) to get there.
  • "Apple can also dump 32-bit app support willy nilly" Guys this is an important point. Apple dumped thousands of apps when they did this, including Microsoft Office 2011 which was only relatively recently end of life. Microsoft still has to support Internet Explorer 11 six years after Windows 10 was released (it's finally being end of lifed in 2022). When people complain Surface Pro X can't run 64-Bit this is valid, but they have no understanding of quite how many bespoke 32-bit only desktop apps IT departments have to support globally. Business critical apps that were first designed decades ago. You can't just replace these over night. Microsoft's and Apple's business model is so different it's barely comparable. Yet consumers do it anyway.
  • "Not sure why you are so combative and arrogant, calm down" I think the frustration with some of you guys' comment is that you view tech details from point of view of the device or the device maker you align yourself to, you don't see the wholistic view of the technological trend or even care to get it, barring blind argument.
    When eventually informed (God forbid with facts), you result to name calling "combative and arrogant" what do you have to lose using internet to check out some of the said facts. See digitrends article on M1 chip development
    (All I did was search for "Apple's M1 Chip development history, that right there confirms the 10 years argument)
    A former Apple engineer reveals the secret 10-year plan behind the M1 chip
    "https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/apple-m1-former-apple-engineer-e...
  • Obviously I don't read every single comment on WC though I frequent this site daily, but the ones I have seen where they have responded to in "combative ways" were not comments that were "just presenting facts." For this particular thread, I didn't hear/sense any aggressiveness in the response. This person is taking personal offense to being labeled as a consumer and what they interpret that to mean. It's not like they were personally called out. Of course someone can be a consumer and professionally know the field due to their career, that specific person is not being referred to when using the label "consumer."
  • "And? The PC market is still 80+% in favor of Windows." True absolutely. Isn't there a risk Windows will chuck along on Intel + AMD for years though, when there should be a healthy selection of Intel, AMD, ARM (Qualcomm/Samsung) laptops. Businesses will want compatibility but ARM brings major gains so far the Windows world is largely ignoring. Tech reviewers largely trashed the Surface Pro X because it was clear most didn't understand what they were using. "This is the problem with consumers: you guys look at 1 quarter and think that's the market. That's all that matters. You're not looking at 2, 3 or 5 years out." I've been saying this since Surface Pro X 😄, but I possibly have a better idea of how business views PCs than some other consumers who comment here.
  • "The M1 isn't magic. It's a fast chip at 5nm. As Qualcomm moves to 5nm (same with Samsung) e.g. SD 888, you'll begin to see similar performance gains especially once it steps to Cortex-A78C for PC. We haven't had an ARM PC on 5nm, but we will later this year. Current laptop ARM chips are bigLITTLE design with 4/4; new ARM laptops chips can be 0/8 big.", amen. Even though the architecture is different than ARM I think the Ryzen 4500u vs 3500u showed what huge performance one could win on a smaller process.
  • When you compare AMD Ryzen 5000 mobile version, with comparable TDP to M1, it has better multicore performance, and close in single core. All that with 7nm process. If they put that same architecture on 5nm they would easily beat M1 single core performance. And they already better in multicore. Not to mention that they will have new, better architecture when they finally go to 5nm...
  • Hi Daniel, "Furthermore, Apple doesn't emulate, they use a different method call translation, which they can do because they built the software and hardware stack to more closely work together." Can't Microsoft + Qualcomm do the same? Microsoft built the software stack, Qualcomm the hardware stack. What I've not heard an answer to, I understand M1 has x86 instructions built in. How did they get around licensing? If I've understood correctly.
  • I am to guess here a bit that I think while technically they can work it out with investments, I can imagine it will uspet other's MS partners if one gets a special treatment. Not sure if that is worth it.
  • "For performance, Qualcomm notes Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 "is up to ten percent faster system performance over most competing platforms," referring to Intel's budget line of processors like the dual-core Celeron N4020, quad-core Pentium Silver N5030 as well as MediaTek's octa-core ARM-based MT8183 used in Android-based tablets." This claim is problematic. Yes on Geekbench or whatever I'm sure but Qualcomm's problem is x86 emulation. Something these Intel chips still don't need to worry about. Still great news because frankly even ChromeOS is poor when run on a Celeron.
  • I'm excited by the ARM stuff. The Surface Pro X was a horrible misfire wrt its price, but it did get developer interest in the door. Not as much as Apple, but Microsoft isn't migrating away from Intel either. If Microsoft can target Windows on some mid-tier Chromebook type hardware, I think they would see a lot of new sales. I know friends that have written over the firmware in Chromebooks with custom bootloaders to turn them into full ARM-compiled Linux desktop devices and they surprisingly hold up with features like full 3d acceleration and power management (as far as the desktop Linux experience holds up). If the ARM initiatives can lead to a scenario where they replace the current low tier PC space of Dual-Core Pentiums/Celerons, 1366x768 screens, and eMMC storage with a reasonable CPU/GPU solution so costs could be shifted to screen/storage, all while providing a capable and traditional non-tablet desktop experience, that would be awesome. I'd definitely buy one of those. I just hope they don't ruin the opportunity like they did WinRT trying to trick people into using Metro apps.
  • This chip is garbage. Robby from Chrome Unboxed channel tested it, and it lags severely trying to run ChromeOS which is just a browser, forget about WoA.
  • I don't really get it. Probably everyone who might be lugging a laptop around has a smartphone to tether the laptop to and use its data plan for connectivity--so, wi-fi as usual. Unless you have something like Google Fi's data-only SIMs so multiple devices can use the same data plan, LTE for a laptop seems an unnecessary feature/expense. Of course, this is a consumer take, not business.
  • Personally I agree if you have to pay extra for a LTE plan. The advantage of LTE is usually better connection and no battery drain on the phone.