While not yet confirmed, it looks like we could be seeing the powerful, flagship-ready Snapdragon 8cx in a Chromebook at some point down the road. While we’re still awaiting signs of the latest mid-range chip (the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3) from Qualcomm to show up in a Chromebook, it appears work is actively being done to begin porting over the far-more-powerful Snapdragon 8cx to the Chromebook ecosystem as well.
Some back story on the Snapdragon 7c
Back before we had Chromebooks with the Snapdragon 7c and 7c Gen 2, we simply had a hunch. For a long time, work was being done to get the Snapdragon 845 up and running with ChromeOS. We followed that work for years before Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 7c and 8c compute platforms, and it became clear shortly after that the SC7180 we’d been tracking in the Chromium Gerrit was, in fact, the Snapdragon 7c.
In a similar fashion, we’re now seeing reference to a new Qualcomm chip in the works in the Chromium Gerrit and I actually looked right past it at first. Shockingly, it has been in the works since last summer and has slipped by unnoticed for months at this point. But yesterday I finally stopped overlooking what was right there the whole time: reference to the SC8180x.
Taking what we know about the naming of both the Snapdragon 7c and 7c Gen 2 (SC7180 and SC7280), it doesn’t take too much sleuthing to figure out that the internal reference name of SC8180x should be referring to the Snapdragon 8cx. If that logic isn’t sound enough for you, take a look at that commit message above and read the second paragraph.
The reference to the “Windows-on-Snapdragon” makes it clear that this is the same platform we currently see in a handful of ARM-powered Windows laptops, and this makes a lot of sense. Since the introduction of the Snapdragon Compute platforms, we’ve always known the more-powerful 8cx would be a great fit for Chromebooks. For Qualcomm, it seems, the waters needed to be tested with the more conservative Snapdragon 7c first, and it looks like they are now convinced to bring the big guns over to ChromeOS.
When will we see a device with the Snapdragon 8cx?
The timeline on this one is very unclear at this point, however, and if a Snapdragon 8cx Chromebook is high on your list, I don’t know that I’d bank on a device materializing anytime soon. From the looks of the commits around the SC8180x, the work isn’t exactly hot and heavy in preparation for an imminent launch. To be fair, we never really saw a ton of work on the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 before it launched in devices like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5, so Qualcomm could be taking a more platform-based approach with these chips.
If that is the case, much of the work on all previous Qualcomm silicon in the Chromium Gerrit could translate over for the Snapdragon 8cx and we won’t necessarily see 8cx-specific commits in the same volume as we saw as the SC7180 was being readied for release. To be frank, with these chips, things simply aren’t that clear to us at this point. We’re digging around for sure, but it may end up that a new Chromebook with the Snapdragon 8cx simply shows up without much warning. I hope that’s the case, at least.