Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is here to power the Android flagships of 2022

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Qualcomm has a new flagship smartphone processor: the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, introduced at the firm’s annual Snapdragon Tech Summit, giving an early preview at the brains behind the strongest smartphones of 2022.

The successor to final 12 months’s Snapdragon 888, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the first chipset to bear Qualcomm’s new naming scheme (which the firm had previously teased final week), ditching the triple-digit numbering system that Qualcomm has beforehand used for new, generation-based monikers.

As is the case yearly, Qualcomm is promising some main enhancements in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, with higher efficiency, digicam expertise, AI capabilities, safety, and 5G.

Let’s begin with the arduous specs. As anticipated, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the first chip from Qualcomm to use the newest Armv9 structure from Arm. Specifically, the new eight-core Kryo CPU will function a single prime core based mostly on the Cortex-X2 at 3.0GHz, together with three efficiency cores based mostly on Cortex-A710 at 2.5GHz, and a quartet of effectivity cores based mostly on the Cortex-A510 design at 1.8GHz. Additionally, the new chip jumps to a 4nm course of, from the 5nm course of on which the Snapdragon 888 was constructed.

All informed, Qualcomm guarantees that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will supply up to 20 % higher efficiency and up to 30 % extra power effectivity over final 12 months’s mannequin.

Meanwhile, the new Adreno GPU (very like the Gen 1’s Kryo CPU, Qualcomm didn’t give a selected quantity for the up to date {hardware} here) guarantees to supply 30 % sooner graphics rendering, as well as to 25 % higher power effectivity in contrast to the Snapdragon 888. It’ll additionally supply a new GPU management panel for fine-tuning how video games are operating in your telephone.


Image: Qualcomm

Making its debut on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X65 modem, which guarantees an entire suite of 5G options and firsts. As Qualcomm’s fourth-generation 5G modem, it builds on the present mmWave and sub-6GHz compatibility that got here earlier than, including assist for up to 10Gbps speeds and the newest 3GPP Release 16 specification. As is all the time the case, you nearly actually received’t really see that sort of pace in the actual world.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 additionally helps Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth LE Audio (a primary for Qualcomm), and the company’s Snapdragon Sound expertise for enabling AptX Lossless wi-fi audio.

As is conventional for Qualcomm’s top-tier processor, the firm is placing a giant emphasis on its beefed-up digicam capabilities, which the firm is bundling collectively for the first time below a new “Snapdragon Sight” model.

While the Spectra ISP is as soon as once more a triple ISP system, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 upgrades issues up to an 18-bit system (up from 14 bits on the 888). That interprets to 4,096 instances extra digicam knowledge and up to 4 extra stops of dynamic vary for very vibrant or very darkish situations. The triple ISP (picture sign processor) additionally permits for issues like capturing 240 12-megapixel pictures in a single second or concurrently capturing in 8K with HDR whereas snapping 64-megapixel stills thanks to an elevated 3.2-gigapixel per second throughput.

Qualcomm is additionally providing extra high-end digicam options out of the field, together with assist for capturing in 8K video with HDR 10 Plus and capturing in 18-bit RAW (assuming your telephone has the digicam {hardware} to really pull it off).

The 8 Gen 1 additionally incorporates a selection of different imaging enhancements, together with higher darkish mode photos that may use knowledge from up to 30 pictures in a single shot (up from six pictures on the 888). There’s additionally a bunch of higher AI processing methods, with improved auto-exposure, auto-focus, and auto-face detection expertise, a devoted “bokeh engine” for including portrait results to 4K video, and an “ultrawide engine” that may de-warp and take away chromatic aberrations from photographs.

Qualcomm is additionally including a fourth ISP, positioned in the devoted sensing hub on the SoC: not like the triple ISP for the major digicam, the new ISP is designed particularly to power an always-on digicam that’s lively always. Qualcomm has some large ambitions for what builders can do with the always-on digicam, like routinely shutting off your display if you put your telephone down or if it detects somebody making an attempt to learn over your shoulder.

And whereas the thought of an always-on digicam raises some apparent safety issues, Qualcomm argues that the function is supposed to assist make utilizing your system extra safe, with any digicam knowledge for the always-on digicam staying regionally on-device in the chip’s safe enclave. Additionally, prospects will probably be in a position to choose in to utilizing the always-on digicam, a lot in the similar manner that they’ll select whether or not to use an always-listening microphone function for voice assistants.

Still, although, the added functionality — and the way producers implement it into their units, in the event that they do in any respect — will probably be one thing to watch when the first chips with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 roll out.

On the AI facet of issues, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 options Qualcomm’s newest Hexagon processor, with its seventh-generation AI engine, which the firm says is 4 instances sooner than its predecessor and up to 1.7 instances extra power environment friendly.

The firm confirmed off a range of use instances that the boosted AI efficiency can allow, together with the aforementioned digicam performance, a “Leica Leitz Look mode” that emulates Leica lens results, and improved detection of the place you’re holding your telephone for optimizing antenna efficiency. Additionally, Qualcomm is including AI-powered sampling to supply a DLSS-style impact for enhancing cellular video games, one thing that it says will occur routinely when gaming on the 8 Gen 1.

Lastly, there are safety enhancements. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 provides a new hardware-level layer of safety with a “dedicated Trust Management Engine,” as well as to providing assist for the Android Ready SE normal, enabling assist for digital automobile keys, driver’s licenses, IDs, and e-money wallets. There’s additionally built-in iSIM assist for instantly connecting to mobile networks.

Despite the new branding, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 doesn’t seem to break the mildew for Qualcomm’s chips, providing the typical generational upgrades we’ve come to count on from the firm’s annual flagships. Still, in a world the place bespoke chips like Google’s Tensor or Apple’s A-series processors have gotten more and more common, it’s good to see that Qualcomm has no intention of slowing the tempo by itself prime chips, whilst the competitors heats up.

And with the first Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 smartphones anticipated earlier than the finish of 2021, it received’t be lengthy earlier than we’ll have the option to see simply how highly effective Qualcomm’s newest chip is for ourselves.

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