Qualcomm Snapdragon, dynamite

Dynamite. That's one way to describe Qualcomm's Snapdragon chips. They light a fire under both AMD and Intel, and eat away at Apple. Snapdragon 835 might be dynamite, but Snapdragon 845 lights the fuse that burns a hole in its competitors.

Your old computer

It's been a long time since 1984.

Your old computer may have been a Commodore 64, maybe an Amiga, maybe even a Plus4 with games on a cassette drive.

If you were rich, you had a IBM with a 386 chip, and a PC case with a turbo button that boosted speed from 18 megahertz to a mindblowing 25 megahertz. It ran Windows for Workgroups 3.1, and if you really wanted everything you get, Windows for Workgroups 3.1.1 with networking.

By 1987, our local primary school had a Apple computer room, filled with about 18 Macintosh computers, an Appletalk network, a midi keyboard, and a mouse.

Fast forward to 1996, and if you bought a new computer, it was probably a Dell or HP or Compaq, it probably struggled to run WIndows 95 on 2 GB of RAM, and everyone was just starting to get used to plugging in USB cables instead of serial mice and PRT printers.

Then, a sudden leap forward in technology in 1997 meant that everyone was rushing to their local computer store to buy a SCSI expansion card and an Iomega ZIP cartridge drive, that stored 100 MB of data. That's just a small fraction of the now-common 8,192 MB (8 GB) thumb drives that we throw away as being too old.

Progressing through the 386, 486, and Pentium processors, with relentless "Intel Inside" advertising, we moved through Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME, Vista, Windows 8, 8.1, skipped Windows 9 and went on to Windows 10. This brings us up to date in 2015. Even Apple transitioned to Intel chips in their laptops and desktop computers.

As the Intel Core processor series and the AMD processor series took hold in 2015, 2016, and 2017, nothing much really worth noting changed. Everyone took a long time to include USB-C, and Thunderbolt 2. Then Apple and Intel released Thunderbolt 3.

Your next computer

Your next computer might not be a desktop or laptop. It's likely to be a tablet, based on Android, Chrome, iOS, or Windows 10/10S.

Many people seem content to rely on their phones as their internet-connected gadget of choice, be it an Android phone, iPhone, or (decreasingly) a Windows Phone.

For those who still want or need a powerful computer, the choice is stark: Windows 10 or macOS.

Here come the dragons

Lighting a fire under these established ecosystems in Qualcomm, with its ARM-based chips, branded Snapdragon.

The Snapdragon 835 was released in 2017, with several devices now available for purchase.

Next year, the Snapdragon 845 will conquer the landscape, as a more powerful and more tightly integrated platform. It is set to power a range of devices:

  • Windows tablets

  • Windows laptops

  • Windows 2-in-1s

  • Android phones

  • Android tablets

  • Android laptops (yes, this will become a thing)

While Qualcomm is locked in a lawsuit battle with Apple, it's not likely that many or any Apple products will use Qualcomm chips. Apple has already diversified its supply chain away from reliance on Qualcomm, switching to Intel for more and more components for the iPhone and iPad. Apple also designs its own custom chips, manufactured by TSMC and Intel.

Despite the ongoing lawsuit with Apple, Microsoft and Qualcomm appear to be best of friends. Microsoft is happy to have both Intel and Qualcomm providing chips and components for its OEM manufacturers to choose from.

At a consumer level, your Windows-based choices in 2018 will be:

  • "I want a budget-friendly, capable, fast, and impressive device with internet connectivity"

  • Choose a Qualcomm Snapdragon based device.

  • "i want a pro-sumer or professional grade computer for intensive workloads and internet connectivity"

  • Choose an Intel-based PC, or

  • Choose an AMD-based PC.

More information

Visit our coverage of the Snapdragon powered PC range here.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas


XYZ Media Group

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