Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is right here to energy the Android flagships of 2022

Qualcomm has a brand new flagship smartphone processor: the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, introduced on the firm’s annual Snapdragon Tech Summit, giving an early preview on the brains behind probably the most highly effective smartphones of 2022.

The successor to final 12 months’s Snapdragon 888, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the primary chipset to bear Qualcomm’s new naming scheme (which the corporate had beforehand teased final week), ditching the triple-digit numbering system that Qualcomm has beforehand used for brand new, generation-based monikers.

As is the case yearly, Qualcomm is promising some main enhancements within the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, with higher efficiency, digital camera expertise, AI capabilities, safety, and 5G.

Let’s begin with the laborious specs. As anticipated, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the primary chip from Qualcomm to make use of the newest Armv9 structure from Arm. Particularly, the brand new eight-core Kryo CPU will characteristic a single prime core based mostly on the Cortex-X2 at 3.0GHz, together with three efficiency cores based mostly on Cortex-A710 at 2.5GHz, and a quartet of effectivity cores based mostly on the Cortex-A510 design at 1.8GHz. Moreover, the brand new chip jumps to a 4nm course of, from the 5nm course of on which the Snapdragon 888 was constructed.

All informed, Qualcomm guarantees that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will provide as much as 20 p.c higher efficiency and as much as 30 p.c extra energy effectivity over final 12 months’s mannequin.

In the meantime, the brand new Adreno GPU (very like the Gen 1’s Kryo CPU, Qualcomm didn’t give a particular quantity for the up to date {hardware} right here) guarantees to supply 30 p.c quicker graphics rendering, along with 25 p.c higher energy effectivity in comparison with the Snapdragon 888. It’ll additionally provide a brand new GPU management panel for fine-tuning how video games are working in your telephone.

Picture: Qualcomm

Making its debut on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X65 modem, which guarantees a complete suite of 5G options and firsts. As Qualcomm’s fourth-generation 5G modem, it builds on the present mmWave and sub-6GHz compatibility that got here earlier than, including assist for as much as 10Gbps speeds and the newest 3GPP Launch 16 specification. As is all the time the case, you virtually definitely gained’t truly see that sort of velocity in the actual world.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 additionally helps Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth LE Audio (a primary for Qualcomm), and the corporate’s Snapdragon Sound expertise for enabling AptX Lossless wi-fi audio.

As is conventional for Qualcomm’s top-tier processor, the corporate is placing a giant emphasis on its beefed-up digital camera capabilities, which the corporate is bundling collectively for the primary time underneath a brand new “Snapdragon Sight” model.

Whereas the Spectra ISP is as soon as once more a triple ISP system, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 upgrades issues as much as an 18-bit system (up from 14 bits on the 888). That interprets to 4,096 instances extra digital camera knowledge and as much as 4 extra stops of dynamic vary for very vibrant or very darkish eventualities. The triple ISP (picture sign processor) additionally permits for issues like taking pictures 240 12-megapixel pictures in a single second or concurrently taking pictures in 8K with HDR whereas snapping 64-megapixel stills because of an elevated 3.2-gigapixel per second throughput.

Qualcomm can also be providing extra high-end digital camera options out of the field, together with assist for taking pictures in 8K video with HDR 10 Plus and taking pictures in 18-bit RAW (assuming your telephone has the digital camera {hardware} to truly pull it off).

The 8 Gen 1 additionally options quite a lot of different imaging enhancements, together with higher darkish mode photos that may use knowledge from as much as 30 photos in a single shot (up from six photos on the 888). There’s additionally a number of higher AI processing methods, with improved auto-exposure, auto-focus, and auto-face detection expertise, a devoted “bokeh engine” for including portrait results to 4K video, and an “ultrawide engine” that may de-warp and take away chromatic aberrations from pictures.

Qualcomm can also be including a fourth ISP, positioned within the devoted sensing hub on the SoC: in contrast to the triple ISP for the first digital camera, the brand new ISP is designed particularly to energy an always-on digital camera that’s lively always. Qualcomm has some massive ambitions for what builders can do with the always-on digital camera, like robotically shutting off your display screen once you put your telephone down or if it detects somebody attempting to learn over your shoulder.

And whereas the concept of an always-on digital camera raises some apparent safety considerations, Qualcomm argues that the characteristic is meant to assist make utilizing your gadget extra safe, with any digital camera knowledge for the always-on digital camera staying domestically on-device within the chip’s safe enclave. Moreover, prospects will have the ability to choose in to utilizing the always-on digital camera, a lot in the identical method that they’ll select whether or not to make use of an always-listening microphone characteristic for voice assistants.

Nonetheless, although, the added functionality — and the way producers implement it into their gadgets, in the event that they do in any respect — shall be one thing to observe when the primary chips with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 roll out.

On the AI aspect of issues, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 options Qualcomm’s newest Hexagon processor, with its seventh-generation AI engine, which the corporate says is 4 instances quicker than its predecessor and as much as 1.7 instances extra energy environment friendly.

The corporate confirmed off quite a lot of use instances that the boosted AI efficiency can allow, together with the aforementioned digital camera performance, a “Leica Leitz Look mode” that emulates Leica lens results, and improved detection of the place you’re holding your telephone for optimizing antenna efficiency. Moreover, Qualcomm is including AI-powered sampling to supply a DLSS-style impact for bettering cell video games, one thing that it says will occur robotically when gaming on the 8 Gen 1.

Lastly, there are safety enhancements. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 provides a brand new hardware-level layer of safety with a “devoted Belief Administration Engine,” along with providing assist for the Android Prepared SE commonplace, enabling assist for digital automobile keys, driver’s licenses, IDs, and e-money wallets. There’s additionally built-in iSIM assist for immediately connecting to mobile networks.

Regardless of the brand new branding, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 doesn’t seem to interrupt the mildew for Qualcomm’s chips, providing the same old generational upgrades we’ve come to anticipate from the corporate’s annual flagships. Nonetheless, in a world the place bespoke chips like Google’s Tensor or Apple’s A-series processors have gotten more and more common, it’s good to see that Qualcomm has no intention of slowing the tempo by itself high chips, even because the competitors heats up.

And with the primary Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 smartphones anticipated earlier than the tip of 2021, it gained’t be lengthy earlier than we’ll have the ability to see simply how highly effective Qualcomm’s newest chip is for ourselves.