Computex 2018: Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 to power Windows PCs

Pauline Obrien
June 6, 2018

Today at Computex 2018, Qualcomm has unveiled a new chip targeted specifically at Windows PCs. Compared with the Snapdragon 835, then, the Snapdragon 850 offers a straight-line maximum clock increase of roughly 20 percent, on top of the architectural improvements from moving to the Snapdragon 845 / Cortex-A75 architecture.

Qualcomm also revealed that the Snapdragon 850 provides high-fidelity audio support built-in, with Qualcomm Aqstic and aptX audio features. This is chip is for always-connected PCs that run Windows 10. The GPU architecture also gets a bump, from the Adreno 540 to 630 family, though it's a little less clear what this entails.

Qualcomm said we could expect to see the Snapdragon 850-powered Windows 10 devices hit retail stores in time for the holiday season. The difference in naming is mostly to separate the chip options for mobile PCs from mobile phones and tablets, though there are modest performance changes because of higher clock speeds on the Kryo CPU.

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Qualcomm has focused a lot on network performance too on the Snapdragon 850 chip with Gigabit LTE speeds expected to be 20% faster than their last generation chip. The X20 LTE modem pushes the downlink speeds up to 1.2 Gbps.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 also uses the upgraded audio and video codec features and include support for H.264 and HEVC 4K encode and decode for video playback services.

Microsoft has also come into play beyond the tech giant's operating system.

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"To truly expand this category, our work with mobile leaders like Samsung is important to help us deliver the next generation of Always On, Always Connected PCs to consumers", said Alex Katouzian, senior vice-president and general manager of the Qualcomm's mobile business unit, in a press statement.

The SD 850 will definitely improve the outlook for Windows on Snapdragon devices later this year, but it might take just one more generational leap before this hardware can have kind of impact we all suspect it will.

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