Snapdragon 8 Gen 1: meet the superchip that should power the Galaxy S22

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile chipset is here and ready to power the next generation of Android flagships. And it could hit the phones sooner than you think.

Although Qualcomm traditionally reveals its premium system-on-chip around this time every year, silicon itself doesn’t show up on phones until early next year, usually on Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S.

But that could be changing with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, as Qualcomm says that devices using the new silicon will start to appear in late 2021. With Samsung’s Galaxy S22 it is not expected to appear until February 2022, that is likely. mean other Phones with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will appear before then.

Regardless of which Android phone debuts first with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, Qualcomm promises great advancements in cameras, games, and artificial intelligence. The emphasis on these particular aspects of the mobile experience is no accident: they are key elements in what people look for in a mobile device, which is why Qualcomm wants to establish its Snapdragon brand as a leader in those particular areas.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip held between two fingers

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 debuts at an interesting time for mobile processors. Last month saw the debut of Google’s Pixel 6 lineup, the first Google phones to skip the use of Qualcomm silicon in favor of a new Google-developed Tensor chipset. While Tensor roughly matches the performance of the Snapdragon 888, the predecessor to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, where Google’s chip really shines is in the way it uses machine learning to enable device intelligence-driven features such as more accurate voice dictation and superior call filtering.

That, coupled with Apple’s success in producing high-performance chips for its own iPhone line, puts pressure on Qualcomm, long the dominant maker of mobile phone chips. Think of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 as the company’s first opportunity to respond to these challenges. This is what’s new.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 performance

With its emphasis on other parts of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 system-on-chip, Qualcomm doesn’t really focus on the performance gains that the new silicon offers. Still, expect the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 to improve on what the Snapdragon 888 offered, even if Apple’s A-series chips are still the benchmark champion.

For starters, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 relies on a 4-nanometer process, compared to the 5-nm Snapdragon 888. The smaller size means that more transistors can fit on the chipset, increasing power efficiency and giving the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 an edge. on its predecessor.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 broken down by components including processor, GPU, memory and other sections

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

To that end, the Kryo CPU included with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is 20% faster and 30% more power efficient than the Snapdragon 888. Applying that power boost to the Geekbench 5 numbers we’ve seen On Snapdragon 888-powered phones, that could theoretically put the new chip in the ballpark of the speed numbers produced by the A15-powered iPhone 13 family. Of course, only the actual landmarks will tell the true story.

The Adreno GPU in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 should see similar gains over its predecessor: Qualcomm promises a 30% improvement in speed and 25% more power savings. That should allow the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 to remain the silicon of choice for the best gaming phones, although the real improvements for gaming include more than faster performance, as we’ll discuss shortly.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Camera Features

In addition to the CPU and GPU, Qualcomm’s system-on-chip includes an Image Signal Processor (ISP) that powers many of the camera functions you’ll find on smartphones. For the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Qualcomm added an 18-bit ISP, a boost from the 14-bit ISP previously featured on the Snapdragon 888. As a result, the new ISP can capture 4K more data from the camera than its predecessor for a greater dynamic range. , color and sharpness.

That ISP, part of what Qualcomm is billing as its Snapdragon Sight technologies, is faster, too. It can capture images at 3.2 gigapixels per second, an increase from the 2.7 gigapixels per second speed found in the ISP of the Snapdragon 888. That would allow you to double the number of burst shots you can capture in one second to 240.

The ISP of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 supports 8K HDR video capture (Qualcomm says this is the first time this feature is available on mobile devices) and there is a new Bokeh engine for adding smooth backgrounds to videos recorded on mobile devices.

The Snapdragon 888 introduces a triple ISP to Qualcomm’s chipsets, but there is now a fourth ISP in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. It is there to support always-on functionality with low power consumption so that a phone’s front camera always be ready to unlock the device when it detects your face.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Gaming Features

Recent introductions of the Snapdragon chipset have touted Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite Gaming features, which aim to bring desktop-quality gaming experiences to mobile devices. That continues with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which features a trio of notable gaming-focused enhancements.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 logo on a phone held with two hands (like a game controller), by someone sitting on a bus

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The new Adreno Frame Motion engine seeks to increase the number of frames per second that Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 devices can produce without an equivalent increase in power consumption. Qualcomm says the new feature can double the number of frames while consuming the same amount of power as before.

Volumetric rendering is a desktop-like capability built into phones that promises to enhance the realism of certain types of graphics. Specifically, the feature should make effects like fog and smoke appear more realistic.

Another gaming feature, Variable Rate Shading Pro, should appeal to game creators. It allows them more control to adjust the performance of the game.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 AI

With artificial intelligence behind an ever-increasing number of features that smartphone users take for granted, expect Qualcomm to go into detail on how the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is measured. It starts with the 7th-generation AI engine that doubles the performance and shared memory size of the engine tensor throttle. Overall, Qualcomm says the new AI Engine is 4 times faster than its predecessor while improving energy efficiency by 70%.

However, more than just numbers, Qualcomm is talking about experiences powered by artificial intelligence. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 integrates Leica Leitz Looks filters to enhance bokeh effects and colors in images. Hugging Face’s natural language processing tools can analyze and prioritize any notification your phone receives. Qualcomm also says it is working with Sonde Health to use artificial intelligence on the device to analyze the user’s voice patterns and detect any potential health risks, such as asthma or depression.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 connectivity

When it announced the new naming scheme for its chipsets, Qualcomm also said it would no longer emphasize 5G connectivity for its mobile offerings; At this point, 5G connectivity is a given. And on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, it should be better than ever.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 on a circuit board

(Image credit: Qualcomm)

The chipset features a fourth-generation Snapdragon X65 5G modem system capable of speeds of 10Gbps. (Now if only 5G networks came close to that theoretical speed limit.) In addition to increased support for more global networks, frequencies and bandwidths, the modem is the first to feature 5G uplink carrier aggregation, increasing upload speeds.

In addition to 5G, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 includes the Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 mobile connectivity system with support for Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. As a result, wireless speeds can reach a theoretical 3.6 Gbps.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Phones

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S stylus

(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

So far, OnePlus, Oppo, Motorola, Nubia, Sony, ZTE, Xiaomi, Honor, and others have all committed to introducing the new Snapdragon on their phones. Some of those phone makers have subsequently released more details, and the Xiaomi 12 is likely to be the first phone to feature the new chipset. The Motorola Edge X30 will arrive in China this month, and Oppo says the Find X3 Pro will also adopt the latest silicon from Qualcomm.

However, none of the aforementioned phones are likely to make it to the US But the OnePlus 10 will, and OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed that a next-gen OnePlus phone will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. We can only assume that it refers to the OnePlus 10.

Samsung generally uses the latest Snapdragon flagship silicon in its Galaxy S phones, and we wouldn’t expect the Galaxy S22 to be any different. If anything, Qualcomm expects to be in more Galaxy S phones in 2022, and you would have to think that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will play a big role in that.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Overview

We’ll have to compare the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 ourselves to see how the new chipset’s performance compares to Google’s Tensor and Apple’s A15 Bionic chip. More importantly, we will have to test a device with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 technology to see how the promised improvements in camera, games and artificial intelligence manifest themselves in a shipping product. That, more than anything, will determine whether Qualcomm can maintain its place at the top of the mobile chip manufacturing market.

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