Qualcomm's Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 gives entry laptop chip a speed boost

Qualcomm is launching a new version of its chipset for laptops, with the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 promising more performance for affordable Windows notebooks and Chromebooks. The successor, as you probably guessed, to late-2019's Snapdragon 7c, this second-generation chipset keeps the multi-day battery life and embedded LTE, but throws in more performance and a boost to multimedia.

The octa-core Kryo 468 CPU now runs at up to 2.55 GHz, and is paired with an Adreno GPU and Spectra 255 image signal processor. Figure on up to QHD 2560 x 1440 at 60Hz external display support, while Qualcomm's 5th Gen Hexagon 692 AI engine delivers over 5 TOPS of performance.

That should mean more grunt for things like real-time video upscaling and processing, useful if your laptop has a fairly pedestrian webcam. They'll also be tapped for better on-device voice recognition.

For connectivity, Qualcomm has integrated the Snapdragon X15 4G LTE modem. That means always-on cellular data alongside WiFi, though the company claims that even in an always-connected standby state, notebooks based on the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 will still last for weeks on a charge. Otherwise, there's WiFi 802.11ac along with Bluetooth 5.0.

Superlative battery life has been one of Qualcomm's big pitches, contrasting its smartphone-honed silicon's frugality in comparison to x86 processors from Intel and AMD. Once again, that's a key area for the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2. Qualcomm says that notebooks using the chipset could see over 19 hours of continuous use on a single charge. Plug in, and you could add up to 9 hours of use from a 30 minute charge.

This is, of course, Qualcomm's chipset for entry-level segments: think K-12 classrooms, first-line workers, and general consumers. The Snapdragon 8c and Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 will stick around to cater for the mid-tier and flagship categories, respectively. For context, Chromebooks running the original Snapdragon 7c are currently launching with prices starting at around $349.

The first device based on the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 is expected to go on sale this Summer. Qualcomm hasn't said which of its partners will be responsible for that, nor given any other specs of the notebook – including whether it'll run Windows 10 or Chrome OS – or indeed an expectation on pricing. It seems likely that it could be the handiwork of Lenovo, though, which has said today that it will launch Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 devices later in 2021.

Snapdragon Developer Kit aims to supercharge Windows 10 app-makers

As for apps to run on those Windows 10-based Snapdragon laptops, there Qualcomm is hoping to spur coders to embrace the platform with a new Snapdragon Developer Kit for Windows 10. Created in collaboration with Microsoft, the box – which looks a little like an Apple TV – will be a more affordable way to get started on building Arm-compatible Windows 10 apps.

It'll come preloaded with everything from .NET 5.0, Visual Studio Code, and FFMPEG, to Chromium and App Assure, so that developers have access to the OS, tools, frameworks, libraries, and installers they need from the get-go. Exact specifications – and indeed pricing – haven't been shared yet. Qualcomm says it expects the Snapdragon Developer Kit to go on sale this summer, and will share more details closer to its release at the Microsoft Store.