Not content to sit back and let MediaTek get all the ARM-powered Chromebook attention, Qualcomm has announced a new SoC for Chromebooks at their 2021 Snapdragon Tech Summit. Like MediaTek’s recently completed Executive Summit, this is a press gathering to basically lay out the plans for the next year or so from the chip maker. Notable announcements included a new naming scheme for the high-end Snapdragon chips – starting with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 – and a new gaming-focused SoC that will launch in a dedicated Android gaming handheld made by Razer called the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1.
While those new chips will surely be of interest to many, the one that grabbed our collective attention was the new Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3, purpose-built for Chromebooks and powered up in some meaningful ways that should make a big difference for Chromebook users in the coming months.
Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 key specs
- Higher performance, lower power with 6nm process node
- ~60% multi-threaded CPU performance and ~30% single-threaded CPU performance increase from Snapdragon 7c Gen 2
- ~70% GPU performance increase from Snapdragon 7c Gen 2
- Wi-Fi 6 and 6E
- Bluetooth 5.2
- UFS 2.1 support
Qualcomm says that this chip was “purpose-built for users across our PC and Chromebook ecosystem” and that we should expect to see the first devices with it on-board available in the first half of 2022. This timeline sits pretty closely inline with what MediaTek is hoping to deliver with their new Kompanio 800 and 1000 series SoCs in Chromebooks. With the HP Chromebook x2 11 and Acer Chromebook Spin 513 both struggling a bit in the performance department with the Snapdragon 7c Gen 1, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 was a nice step up in performance with it’s Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor.
With this Gen 3 version, we’re looking at far bigger performance boost claims than what Qualcomm announced with the Gen 2 processor. With the 60% performance gains in multi-core CPU tasks and 30% increases on a single-core basis, I’d expect those numbers and the 70% GPU bump to really make this a solid performer for mid-range Chromebooks.
If the multi-day battery Qualcomm claims comes with these sorts of peformance gains, the battle for best ARM processor for your Chromebook could heat up rapidly. I’d still wager the Kompanio 1200 we’re expecting in the first half of 2022 will still be an overall better performer, but if the 7c+ is solid and brings an improved battery life over the already-ludicrous Gen 2 we see in the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5, MediaTek is sure to have some competition on its hands in this space. And that’s a good thing, because we all know who wins when companies like this compete.