Qualcomm Eyes Copilot+ Desktop PCs For Expanded Snapdragon X Assault On x86

Qualcomm President and CEO Cristiano Amon on stage for a Computex keynote in front of a slide a Snapdragon X Elite processor that says "The PC is reborn."
Today marks the official start of this year's week long Computex event, which runs through Friday, but some major announcements already came pouring in over the weekend. Notably, NVIDIA unveiled new SFF-ready guidelines focused on compact, high-end GeForce RTX gaming setups, along with a bunch of other AI-oriented stuff, while AMD rolled out the red carpet for its Ryzen 9000 series Zen 5 lineup. Perhaps looking to steal some thunder, especially from the latter, Qualcomm took the stage at Computex to remind everyone that it's declared war on the x86 ecosystem.

We already knew this with the launch of its Snapdragon X Elite and Plus platforms, which called dibs on the first round of Microsoft Copilot+ PCs in laptop form. But at Computex, Qualcomm and it's president-slash-CEO Cristiano Amon put the competition on notice—the company is coming for all form factors, including desktops. Should AMD and Intel be worried?

Time will tell, but from Qualcomm's vantage point, an "industry shift" is happening right before our eyes, one in which its Arm-based Snapdragon X platform is attempting wrestle dominate share away from x86 solutions in an emerging era of AI PCs.

snapdragon x copilot pcs with cristiano

"The PC is reborn. Copilot+ PCs powered by Snapdragon X Elite are the fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built with AI integrated throughout the system and can deliver multi-day battery life," said Amon. "I am grateful to the partners that joined me on stage today to celebrate this industry shift that puts Snapdragon powered Windows Copilot+ PCs at the forefront of technology innovation. Together, we are redefining the personal computing experience, and enabling developers to efficiently create apps for this new generation."

Qualcomm's battle cry is "The PC is reborn," with a dual focus on power efficiency to drive multi-day battery life on laptops, and built-in hardware (NPUs, or neural processing units) to handle AI workloads. Obviously, battery life doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to desktops, but power efficiency does (hence one of the reasons Apple dumped Intel in 2020 for its custom M-series chips in all things Mac, including desktops), and of course the industry at large is going bonkers over all things AI.

This sets the stage for an interesting battle royale of sorts between Qualcomm, Apple, AMD, and Intel. Qualcomm is quick to point out that its Snapdragon X Elite "delivers the highest NPU performance per watt for laptops," claiming up to 2.6X versus Apple's M3 and up to 5.4X versus Intel's Core Ultra 7.

"With our leading Qualcomm Oryon CPU, Snapdragon X Elite is the new performance leader for Windows with up to 51% faster CPU performance at ISO power and matches competitor peak PC CPU performance at 65% less power," Qualcomm says.

However, it's a fluid battle ground. In addition to its Ryzen 9000 series for the desktop, which interestingly lack NPU hardware (AMD reckons users who need AI horsepower on the desktop will turn to discrete GPUs), AMD unveiled its Ryzen AI 300 series Strix Point chips for laptops, which do feature an onboard XDNA 2 NPU with up to 50 TOPS of AI grunt.

Intel is also planning to deliver a keynote at Computex (on Tuesday) with the message of "bringing AI everywhere." We'll have to wait and see what that entails. In the meantime, Qualcomm made clear that its Arm-based insurgence doesn't stop with laptops.

"Snapdragon X and Copilot+ are coming to all PC form factors. Qualcomm is in now in this neighborhood to stay, we're not going anywhere and we're very happy to be working with our partners in all the different form factors for the industry. This is incredibly exciting because PC is truly reborn and that's a great transition," Amon said during his keynote.

Qualcomm is certainly right the PC is reborn, in that it's given birth to a new wave of AI-powered setups. We'll have to wait for the dust to settle to find out if Snapdragon can truly chip away at x86's dominance, though.