Computex 2019: Qualcomm, Lenovo Show ‘Project Limitless’ 5G Laptop

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The companies aim for the processing power of a workstation with the always-on connectivity of a smartphone

Qualcomm and Lenovo are displaying what they call the first 5G laptop at the Computex conference in Taipei this week, a system code-named Project Limitless.

The lightweight laptop is designed to offer the performance comparable to an Intel-based device, while offering significantly longer battery life and freedom from Wi-Fi connections, the companies say.

While the Lenovo-built device on show at Computex is still at the prototype stage, the companies plan to launch a mass-market version in early 2020.

It runs on the Snapdragon 8cx processor announced last December, and Qualcomm showed benchmark tests showing the chip outperforming an “Kaby Lake-R” Intel Core i5 for most tasks.

The Project Limitless concept laptop from Lenovo and Qualcomm. Image credit: Lenovo

Performance

Qualcomm said the final Snapdragon 8cx is to run at 2.84GHz, with the Kryo 495 CPU inside the Snapdragon chip being at least 2.5 times as powerful as the CPU in the Snapdragon 850, which powers laptops such as the Lenovo Yoga C630.

The Adreno GPU and Hexagon DSP units inside the upcoming Snapdragon have also been improved, and the chip is Qualcomm’s first to use a 7nm manufacturing process, improving efficiency.

Lenovo said it would offer Snapdragon 8cx-based laptops with up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage.

“With real 5G in a PC2, it’s all about satisfying users’ need for speed,” said Johnson Jia, general manager of the consumer business of Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group, in a statement.

“5G PC users the world-over will save time, stay productive, or get online entertainment from nearly anywhere, at any time.”

Always-on

The companies said their aim with Project Limitless is to offer the processing power of a laptop with the mobility and always-on connectivity of a smartphone.

It said uses for that connectivity and processing muscle could include real-time voice translation in a business conference and editing, uploading and downloading video footage in real time.

Systems at Computex were shown connected to a dedicated sub-6GHz 5G network.

At the conference, Qualcomm showed benchmark figures indicating 17 to 20 hours of battery life for the 8cx-based laptop, compared to 10 to 12 hours for an Intel Core i5-8250U system.

Laptops running on Qualcomm’s ARM-based systems achieve their best performance when running ARM-native applications, but where these are not available they must run the apps in emulation.

But Qualcomm said the 8cx’s speed meant users wouldn’t notice a perceptible lag when running apps in emulation.

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