We’re still eagerly awaiting the arrival of Snapdragon 7c Chromebooks in 2021 and while we fully expect to be hands-on with a few of them in the very near future, the truth is we don’t know how the chip will actually hold up once we get a Chromebook in our office that uses it. I have pretty high – yet optimistic – hopes that this chip will deliver solid performance and outstanding battery life, but we can’t really comment on that until we get one to truly test.
While we wait, however, it appears the next version of the Snapdragon 7c is not only a chip being readied for release by Qualcomm: it is being developed in upcoming Chromebooks as we speak. That’s right! Just like with their Intel-based siblings, Qualcomm-powered Chromebooks are now on the bleeding edge of new chip testing and no longer taking a back seat to Windows PCs. We see development like Alder Lake Intel Chromebooks already being worked on and that chip family won’t debut in any device until later 2021. In a similar fashion, it seems, Qualcomm is getting their newest silicon in the hands of the Chrome OS team for early developmental work and hopefully a timely launch when the chip becomes available to the public.
Why we think the SC7280 is the new Snapdragon 7c for Chromebooks
To get to this conclusion, we need to connect a few dots. First up, there was a report not long ago of a new internal chip being built by Qualcomm that goes by the name of SC8280. If you’ve been following along with some of the latest Qualcomm development with Chromebooks, you know that the existing Chromebooks set to arrive soon with the current Snapdragon 7c contain the SC7180 processor. You’ll also remember that we uncovered a new Qualcomm chip in the Chromium Gerrit earlier this month that has the model number SC7280. With the current-gen SC7180, it stands to reason that the SC7280 would simply be an upgraded version of the same chip.
Back to the SC8280 we mentioned above. This chip is the upgrade to the existing Snapdragon 8cx and is on the way with 8 large, powerful cores instead of the mix-and-match we normally see with small and large cores. The SC8280 is reportedly arriving to try and compete with Apple’s powerful M1 chip, but that’s not exactly relevant to our conversation, here. Instead, you just need to know that the SC8280 is the next version of the 8cx (the bigger brother to the 7c) and that model number should look quite familiar to the SC7280 we’re seeing in the Chromium Gerrit.
Now, add to this the report that a new 7c is on the way in the SC7295, and the case for the SC7280 being a Chromebook variant of the new Snapdragon 7c starts to make a lot of sense. Honestly, the moment we began tracking ‘Herobrine’ and ‘Senor’, I felt quite confident they were the torch-bearers for some sort of updated Snapdragon 7c. Now that we know an updated 7c is for sure in the works, it all just makes sense.
Performance, battery gains, and 5G
This new Snapdragon 7c is reportedly based on a new mobile phone chip we should see making a debut in the coming weeks as the Snapdragon 775. This chip will be the mid-range follow-up to the Snapdragon 765 that we find in phones like the Pixel 5. The chip will be built on a 5nm process, making it extremely efficient in the battery life department. Additionally, the SC7295 is being built with a 1+3+4 core setup with the largest core clocking up to 2.7 GHz, the other three big cores hitting up to 2.4 GHz, and the smaller four efficiency cores will running at 1.8 GHz. For many, these terms don’t translate into performance, so let me help out with that just a bit.
If benchmarks are to be believed, the mobile equivalent of this new Snapdragon 7c – the Snapdragon 775 – packs some serious performance gains over its predecessor. In fact, the 775 pulls off benchmark scores that are only 8% lower than 2020’s flagship Snapdragon 865! That likely means the new Snapdragon 7c will actually outperform the Snapdragon 855 and likely go toe-to-toe with the 865 in my OnePlus 8T. Those types of numbers will be felt in a big, big way with Chrome OS when this chip shows up, and we may finally see some ARM-powered Chromebooks start to compete and beat existing Intel-based devices in speed tests.
Finally, the new Snapdragon 7c will also be prepped and ready for 5G connectivity, making it a great candidate for always-connected Chromebooks. With more professionals, students, and remote workers than ever before, a chip that can combine peak performance, long battery, and always-on connectivity sounds like a real winner, doesn’t it? Before today, I was generally intrigued for what the new Snapdragon 7c would bring. Now, I’m beyond excited. Be sure to get subscribed and stay tuned for all the updates we uncover as we begin tracking the new SC7280/Snapdragon 7c and it’s road to eventual release.