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Qualcomm’s lower-end Snapdragon 7c chips carved out a space for Chromebooks and other value devices that aimed for long battery life and consistent connectivity. Now Qualcomm is announcing an upgraded Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chip aimed at powering the low-end $350 Chromebooks and PCs that flood Amazon’s “most popular” list.
Comparing 2019’s Snapdragon 7c and the new Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, the main difference is in clock speed: the Snapdragon 7c used a Kryo 468 CPU running at up to 2.4 GHz, which the new chip uses an identical Kryo 468, yet running 6 percent faster at 2.55GHz. It appears every other feature on the two different chips remains identical. The latest chip also uses the same X15 4G LTE modem as the 7c Gen 1.
What else has changed is the competitive landscape for low-end PCs and Chromebooks, which the original 7c seemed headed for. Intel’s Celeron N4020 processor and Pentium Gold N5030 are now viable solutions for low-end PCs and Chromebooks, as is the Mediatek 8183. You probably won’t look for any of these on a spec sheet, but you will notice how peppy the resulting performance is. What Qualcomm can’t really quantify is the battery life since that’s dependent on the hardware manufacturer.
One hardware maker that will use the Snapdragon 7c will be Lenovo, which has often built laptops like the Lenovo Flex 5G around Snapdragon processors like the Snapdragon 8cx. Qualcomm executives said they expect the first Snapdragon 7c devices in summer, without specifically identifying Lenovo.
“We look forward to launching new Lenovo devices with the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 compute platform later this year,” Emily Ketchen, chief marketing officer of Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group, said in a statement.
Qualcomm declined to publish actual performance numbers backing the Snapdragon 7c. Instead, it published relative comparisons against its competition from Intel and Mediatek across a variety of benchmarks. However, we’ve already completed early testing on the HP Elite Folio, which uses the faster Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 chip, the premium offering in Qualcomm’s lineup. We also performed hands-on testing with the original Snapdragon 7c, and it felt quick enough.
Meet the Snapdragon NUC
Two other key things have changed since Qualcomm released the original Snapdragon 7c. First, Microsoft now allows users to run 64-bit apps via emulation and via the Windows Insider program, allowing the vast ecosystem of Windows apps to finally run unimpressively on top of Snapdragon hardware. (The capability has not yet been pushed to the mainstream release build of Windows 10, however.) Second, more apps now have versions specifically coded for Windows on Arm.
To kickstart development even further, Qualcomm and Microsoft said this week that they’ve co-engineered a low-cost development platform consisting of a NUC-like box with a Snapdragon processor inside of it. The Snapdragon Developer Kit will be commercially available at The Microsoft Store this summer, the two companies said. The price and configuration weren’t immediately available.
The development work has also paid off in another area as well. This summer, Zoom will be available in a native version coded for Windows on Arm that can run on Snapdragon. In a demo video, Qualcomm said that the added efficiency would allow a Snapdragon test notebook to run for up to almost eight hours while continually running Zoom. That’s up to 12 percent more than the un-optimized version, the company said.
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As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats.