There’s been a ton of news surrounding the Snapdragon 8cx for Chromebooks in the past week, but a new discovery in the Snapdragon 7c lineup also caught my attention recently as we uncovered the latest of these devices – ‘Evoker’ – hitting development cycle in the Chromium Repositories. As it showed up, I began wondering once again if this device and others like it could possibly be built on the new Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 that Qualcomm announced back in December of last year.
Up to this point, I’ve only had a suspicion that this was the case. After all, when you look at the code names of the processors in Snapdragon Chromebooks (SC7180 and SC7280), it feels like it is clear that the 7180 is the 7c Gen 1 and the 7280 would be the 7c Gen 2. However, as we pointed out in the post about ‘Evoker’, that logic isn’t so clear-cut. We’ve seen Chromebooks launch with baseboards built on the SC7180 containing the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 and not a single one of them used the SC7280-based boards like ‘Herobrine’, ‘Hoglin’, Villager’, ‘Senor’ or ‘Evoker’. With that info alone, I had a gut feeling that the SC7280 must instead be the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3, but I had no solid evidence of that until now.
A bit of confirmation for the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3
As I was looking for some proof that the SC7280 is somehow linked to the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3, I finally came across something quite interesting: a commit adding NVMe support for SC7280 boards. This made me a bit curious, and after seeing it, I began searching for this feature in the Snapdragon 7c and 7c Gen 2 product listings from Qualcomm. And to my surprise, neither of those SoCs supports it.
With that in mind, I then looked a bit deeper into the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 spec listing, and you can likely guess what I found there: NVMe support as a new, updated feature. With the clear lack of support for this faster, higher-end storage option in the Gen 1 and Gen 2 of the Snapdragon 7c, it seems pretty clear at this point that the addition of NVMe for the SC7280 boards in the Chromium Repositories points to those boards being the new Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3.
Why there may be internal naming confusion
So, why the naming confusion? I don’t know this as fact, but I can wager a guess as to why this happened. You see, the SC names are generally for internal use. Perhaps, when Qualcomm decided to put out the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, they were going to call it the Snapdragon 7c+ like they do with their other chips. Most of their flagship phone SoCs get a “plus” version during the year that keeps most of the cores in place and just raises the clock speeds. This is exactly what the 7c Gen 2 is: a 7c with higher clock speeds.
For some reason, however, Qualcomm chose to put this small bump out into the world as a full, generational upgrade in the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 and most likely, the internal code name for what was already in the works as the next evolution of the 7c (the 7c+ Gen 3) was simply left as SC7280. So, that would mean that internally, the naming for these SoCs would have been SC7180 for both the Snapdragon 7c and what should have been the 7c+. Gen 2 likely was slated to be what the 7c+ Gen 3 has become, and instead of going back to rip out internal code names, they just left it as-is.
Either way, I feel quite confident that the devices being built right now in the SC7280 group are all likely to be equipped with the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3, and that is exciting. This chip should show a marked improvement in speed over the existing 7c Chromebooks on the market and should do so with great battery life, too. With the Snapdragon 8cx on the way, more MediaTek Chromebooks in the pipeline, and these upcoming 7c+ Gen 3 devices around the corner, the ARM-based Chromebook race is really just beginning.