Inside Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1: Android’s Next Supercomputer

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is Qualcomm’s first chip in a new naming scheme and is expected to power Samsung’s US Galaxy S22 and OnePlus 10 series of phones. “With breakthrough 5G speeds, pro-grade cameras, personal assistants smart and top-notch gaming platforms, the new class of experiences that Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 offers may change flagship smartphones, ”Qualcomm wrote in a blog post. The 8 Gen 1 comes as Qualcomm, the once dominant chipmaker, faces more competition than ever. Apple’s M-series processors in its new MacBook Pro laptops quickly overtook Qualcomm’s three-year effort to deploy its chips in Windows laptops, setting the standard for performance for PCs using chipsets based. on ARM. The Dimensity 9000, MediaTek’s first serious rival to the 8-series processors, has just been revealed. MediaTek is currently the leading supplier of chipsets by volume. Qualcomm, however, has new opportunities this year, even in its core business.

We’re going to have a lot of hands-on testing of the new chipset over the next few days here at Snapdragon Summit, but here are the first details on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Qualcomm has long tried to get people to stop talking about processors. Apple forces its hand. A versatile Swiss army knife, the processor does everything that needs to be done, but not necessarily designed for a specific task. Over the past 10 years, Qualcomm has instead focused on chips for specific tasks: a highly optimized sensor hub, or an image signal processor, or an AI unit. This makes sense in the world of low power smartphones, as these specialized blocks are generally more energy efficient. Meanwhile, Qualcomm has fallen back on using the processor designs of its partner ARM. There isn’t even a specific CPU slide in my pre-briefing presentation! But then two things happened: MediaTek caught up and Apple passed them. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has an ARM Cortex-A2 core running up to 3 GHz, three A710 cores and four A510 cores, giving it 20% better performance and 30% lower power consumption than the Snapdragon 888. , says Qualcomm, vice president of product management Ziad. Asghar.

“It’s not Huawei that’s not in the business and that volume is shifting to the OEMs we work with, for the most part… ‘Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’ is the first of a new numbering system for Qualcomm. For the past 10 years, it has numbered three-digit chips starting with 200, 400, 600, 700, and 800, depending on their wattage. But the company is up to 888+, 780G, 695, and 480+, according to a slide from Qualcomm, and since she doesn’t want to change the first digits or switch to hex, she had to do something. (Still, how cool would the Snapdragon 8FE be? Maybe just for old geeks. ) Qualcomm has yet to explain what it will do when it has to release multiple chips of the same series in the same year, such as this year it released the 870, 888, and 888+.

On the other hand, I hate to mention it, but the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 launched last week has the exact same CPU core layout. And the Dimensity can actually outperform the Snapdragon on pure CPU metrics due to faster RAM support: while Qualcomm uses LPDDR5 memory at 3500 Mbps, MediaTek can, in theory, use LPDDR5x memory. at 7500 Mbps. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has a bunch of other features that are better than the Dimensity 9000, but we’re talking about CPU here. We’ll be reviewing the new Snapdragon later this week and telling you how it really goes. Meanwhile, Apple’s M-series processors, with custom cores, set the PC world on fire in a way that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon for Windows chipsets have failed in all three. last years. Part of the reason is that Apple controls its operating system and tool sets, and was able to migrate its entire platform to ARM in a way that Windows did not. But in part, it’s just that the M-series processors are better and PCs are much more reliant on the pure processor than phones.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has three 18-bit Image Signal Processors (ISP) that support up to three 36MP cameras at the same time; Dual 64 and 36MP cameras shooting at the same time; or 108MP camera. For video, the chip supports 8K HDR video at 30 frames per second and 720p slow motion up to 960 frames per second. A new ISP unit connected to the low-power sensing hub allows the camera to power on without waking up much of the rest of the system, for low-power Face ID-like experiences.

But there are more changes to come. Last year, Qualcomm bought Nuvia, a startup formed by some of the engineers behind Apple’s A-series processors. At an analyst event earlier this month, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said the first chips using Nuvia custom cores would start sampling at the end of 2022 and would be “competitive” with the Apple M-series processors. “So now for us, with the Nuvia assets on board and working with Microsoft even more closely than before, the partnership will allow us to bring some kind of virtual vertical capacity into the Windows marketplace, to allow this ecosystem to thrive.” in the same way. way, ”says Katouzian. Since they’re off-cycle, these processors would likely be built into PC-centric chipsets first, eventually followed by the Snapdragon 8 series in late 2023.

Summary of the news:

  • Inside Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1: Android’s Next Supercomputer
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