It’s that time of year again: Qualcomm has just announced the ARM chip that will power most of next year’s high-end Android phones. The rumored 898 model number isn’t happening, though. Qualcomm has changed its naming scheme with the latest flagship chip, which it calls the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. It has the latest CPU, camera support, and 5G technology, and it’ll start shipping in phones very soon.
The Gen 1 features Qualcomm’s first 4nm process node, helping the chip achieve the now-customary double-digit efficiency and power increases. More than that, this chip moves to the latest ARM core designs, which we saw previously in MediaTek’s new Dimensity 9000. The Gen 1 has a standard triple CPU island design. There are four ARM Cortex-A510-based efficiency cores, three more powerful ARM Cortex-A710-based cores, and a single “Prime” core based on the Cortex-X2. The Adreno GPU is allegedly 30 percent faster and 25 percent more efficient. It also has a new feature called Frame Motion Engine, which produced higher frame rates.
Google made AI a major focus of its recently released Tensor chip, and Qualcomm is answering with its 7th-gen AI engine. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 should be four times faster at machine learning tasks and twice as good at tensor acceleration than the SD888. Low-power machine learning is also better thanks to the third-gen Qualcomm Sensing Hub. In the same vein, the camera can remain online at all times (but only talking to the secure enclave) via the new image signal processor. The applications for this are a little unclear, though. Qualcomm’s suggestions, like turning the phone off when you set it down, don’t seem particularly useful. Cameras will also support 8K HDR video and 18-bit RAW mode, with compatible sensors.
Qualcomm has been a driving force behind 5G since its inception, and 5G will be one of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’s main selling points. It has the latest Qualcomm X65 modem built-in, which supports maximum theoretical speeds of 10 Gbps on mmWave 5G. Of course, no carrier on Earth can deliver those speeds currently. It also has all the sub-6 5G support you’d ever need.
This chip will probably arrive in at least a few phones by the end of 2021, but the first major release for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will probably be the Galaxy S22 family in early 2022. We expect to see the Gen 1 in almost all Android flagships in 2022, save for those that launch exclusively outside the US and Google’s Pixel phones.
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