Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1: How the new chipset can make the next-gen flagships better

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1: How the new chipset can make the next-gen flagships better
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1 Dec, 2021

Qualcomm Technologies has launched its new top of the line mobile chipset called Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that will power the next-generation Android flagships. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is based on a 4-nanometer architecture and is the successor to the Snapdragon 888 that was built in 5-nanometer architecture. The new chipset also marks a departure from the triple-digit naming system that Qualcomm has been using for years. 

The first crop of Android flagships that will use the new chipset can be expected by the year end. Xiaomi, Honor, Black Shark,  iQOO, Motorola, Nubia, OnePlus, OPPO, Realme, Vivo, Sony and ZTE are some of the smartphone brands that will be adopting the new processor, Qualcomm said.  

Qualcomm claimed the new chipset can muster up to 20% better performance and up to 30% better power efficiency.  

“Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 delivers connectivity, photography, AI, gaming, sound, and security experiences never before available in a smartphone,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of mobile, compute, and infrastructure at Qualcomm Technologies.  

For instance, the chipset leverages the 4th Gen Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System, which, as per Qualcomm, is the first modem and antenna system to achieve theoretical download speeds of 10Gbps. The new chipset also supports Wi-Fi 6 and 6E standards and claims speeds of up to 3.6 Gbps, which would result in a big boost in performance and experience while using apps and online games.  

Qualcomm further said that the new chipset will offer a major camera upgrade for smartphones. It uses something called Snapdragon Sight technology, which uses an 18-bit ISP (image signal processor) that can capture 4,000 times more camera data than its predecessor at speeds up to 3.2 gigapixels per second, which means it can simultaneously process data from three 36-megapixel cameras.  

The camera system also supports video recording in 8K HDR (high dynamic range), which means users can generate high quality HDR content using their smartphone. HDR expands range of colour and contrast in videos, resulting in brighter and more colour rich visuals.  

The camera system also includes a dedicated Always-On ISP that will ensure the camera will function at low power consumption. Typically camera usage drains the battery faster.  

With more users relying on smartphones for work, security is more critical than ever. The new chipset has security covered with new features such as the Trust Management Engine that provides additional Root of Trust for apps and services. Then there is Qualcomm's Secure Processing Unit that now supports an integrated SIM card (iSIM) allowing users to access the internet on smartphones without having to install a physical SIM. Unlike eSIM, which is a dedicated chip attached to the main processor, an iSIM is embedded in the main system on chip (SoC) next to the processor. 

In terms of artificial intelligence (AI smarts), the new chipset has a lot to offer. It uses the 7th Gen Qualcomm AI Engine that runs on Qualcomm's Hexagon processor that comes with two times faster tensor accelerator and two times more shared memory as compared to its predecessor.  

Qualcomm has also incorporated Leica Leitz Look filters allowing users to recreate the Bokeh effect of Leica lenses in smartphones.  

Qualcomm has also roped in natural language processing (NLP) from Hugging Face, an AI community, to provide an intelligent personal assistant on smartphones that can be used for prioritising and checking notifications. NLP is a subset of AI that strives to make computers understand text and spoken words like humans. 

Typically smartphones can only track steps and to determine any signs of risks related to heart users have to rely on wearables. Qualcomm has tied up Sonde Health to leverage on-device AI to accelerate their models to analyze a user’s vocal patterns and determine health risks such as asthma, depression, and even covid-19.  

The new chipset also uses an upgraded Adreno GPU that promises 30% better graphics rendering and 25% power savings than its predecessor. It also has the Adreno Frame Motion Engine that can generate two times more frames consuming the same amount of power. To help game developers offer more realistic gaming experiences, Qualcomm said the new chipset offers desktop-level volumetric rendering. It will also develop to add fog, smoke, and particle effects to mobile games.