Qualcomm has released its next top chip under the new name Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. It has received a host of updates and improvements from its 888 Plus predecessor. One of the updates is the so-called Snapdragon Sight technology, which is the new Image Signal Processor (ISP) that can handle 18 bits. It is the first mobile phone ISP capable of handling only 18 bits, which is expected to provide higher dynamic range and better image performance. In total, it should be able to handle four times more data per second than its predecessor (3.2 gigapixels per second). This means that you can shoot with a camera sensor that has a resolution of 200 megapixels or up to 36 megapixels from three cameras simultaneously. It also means that 8K videos can be recorded in HDR or HDR10 +.
The ISP will also have a separate engine to generate blur, bokeh, and Qualcomm has partnered with Leica, which has developed three different filters to recreate the blur of three of its classic lenses. There is also a separate motor that will take care of the bracketing, meaning you take multiple photos that are combined into one. This can produce images with less noise and greater dynamic range. Another separate engine has to handle the wide-angle images to correct for the optical errors that often occur in wide-angle images.
AI has also gained an important place on the new chip. Among other things, there is a new artificial intelligence engine that will double the memory and speed compared to its predecessor. It is compatible with the Leica filters mentioned above, but also with facial recognition and speech analysis. Qualcomm believes that the new chip will be able to use AI to analyze user speech to track various health problems such as asthma, depression, and COVID-19.
A dedicated ISP will be able to allow a camera to be active at any time without draining the battery. This should be able to be used, for example, to always have the option to unlock the phone with facial recognition or automatically lock the screen or hide notifications if someone else is looking at the screen. However, this raises questions about personal integrity.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 also has a dedicated engine called the Trust Management Engine that will protect user information on the device, including things like digital car keys and driver’s license.
In terms of connectivity, the 8 Gen 1 has its fourth generation X65 5G modem, which is expected to be capable of speeds of up to 10 Gbps. There is also support for more 5G bands than before and wifi and bluetooth connections with speeds of up to 3.6 Gbps with Wifi 6.
The list of manufacturers that have so far signed up to use the new chip contains common names, Google, Apple and Samsung are missing. It is unclear if this means that Samsung will not use this chip or if they have a separate agreement in some way. These three also make their own chips to a great extent.
Qualcomm has also partnered with Sony’s sensors division to establish a laboratory in San Diego to develop sensors for smartphones.
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