Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Announced: Here is everything you want to know

 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the successor to last year’s Snapdragon 888. This new chip jumps to a 4nm process, from the 5nm process on which the Snapdragon 888 was built. It is the first chip from Qualcomm to use the latest Armv9 architecture from Arm. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is powered by an 8-core Kryo CPU which features 1 Prime core(Cortex-X2 at 3.0GHz), 3 performance cores(Cortex-A710 at 2.5GHz), and 4 efficiency cores(Cortex-A510 at 1.8GHz). It's Qualcomm Adreno GPU comes with OpenCL 2.0 FP, OpenGL ES 3.2, Vulkan 1.1 support. For on-device Ai, this SoC is powered by the 7th Gen Qualcomm Ai Engine.

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(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Introduction and  Specifications

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. introduced its premium 5G mobile platform, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 on Nov 30, 2021 during the annual Snapdragon Tech Summit. It is the 18th model in the 8-series. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the first chipset to come with Qualcomm’s new naming scheme, as the company is attempting to simplify its product naming and lineup. “As the world’s most advanced mobile platform, Snapdragon is synonymous with premium Android experiences and the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 sets the standard for the next generation of flagship mobile devices,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager of mobile, compute, and infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is based on 4nm process technology and is an upgrade over the 5nm process technology that was used by Snapdragon 888 last year. Snapdragon Sight, which is collection of premium camera features and technologies, includes first-ever always on 18-bit ISP(Image signal processor) that captures 4000x more camera data than 14-bit predecessors. Equipped with the 4th gen Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System, the new Snapdragon 8 is claimed to be the most advanced 5G mobile platform and the world’s first 5G modem-RF solution to reach 10-Gigabit download speeds. The 7th Gen Qualcomm AI Engine is equipped with the Qualcomm Hexagon processor, featuring a 2x faster tensor accelerator and 2x larger shared memory than its predecessor. According to a Qualcomm Press Note, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will be adopted by global OEMs(Original equipment manufacturers) and brands including Black Shark, Honor, iQOO, Motorola, Nubia, OnePlus, OPPO, Realme, Redmi, SHARP, Sony Corporation, vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE. Commercial devices are expected by the end of 2021. Complete Specifications of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is given below.

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(Image credit: Qualcomm)

CPU

Last year's Snapdragon 888 saw the introduction of the Cortex X1 core, and with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, we're seeing the debut of the Cortex X2. Qualcomm is sticking with its tried and tested 1+3+4 tri-cluster CPU arrangement, as it had been relatively successful for the designers over the past few years and iterations ever since the Snapdragon 855. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is powered by a Cortex-X2 CPU core clocked at 3GHz, 2 Cortex-A710 cores at 2.5GHz, and 4 energy-efficient Cortex-A510 cores at 1.8GHz. The X2 core is configured with 1MB of L2 cache, while the three Cortex-X710 cores have 512KB each. Qualcomm hasn’t given out L2 cache details for the A510 cores but we do know that they are making use of the microarchitecture’s new “merged-core” capabilities, which sees two cores sharing a NEON/SIMD pipeline and L2 cache in this instance. Qualcomm promises that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will offer up to 20% better performance and up to 30% more power efficiency over last year’s model.

GPU

The new Adreno GPU is un-numbered, but boasts similar performance upgrades to the CPU. The new Adreno GPU promises to offer 30% faster graphics rendering, in addition to 25% better power efficiency compared to the Snapdragon 888. Qualcomm says it can drive displays at up to 144Hz refresh rate at a QHD+ resolution. There is the new Adreno Frame Motion Engine that allows the GPU to render a game at 2x the frame rate while using the same amount of power. Alternatively, it can keep the FPS the same while cutting power draw by half. Another feature is Variable Rate Shading Pro to provide a finer grain of control for game developers to further tune game performance. "Desktop-level" Volumetric rendering brings realism to fog, smoke, and particle effects that have been optimized for mobile by Qualcomm Technologies’ in-house Snapdragon Studios.

Camera

Image processing and machine learning are key parts of Qualcomm’s modern chipsets. Last generation’s triple ISP layout remains and has been upgraded from a 14-bit to 18-bit imaging pipeline and supports 18-bit RAW image output. This results in 3.2 gigapixels of imaging crunching capabilities per second, up from 2.7 last-gen. While video capture is mostly the same as last-gen, 8K 30fps HDR makes an appearance for the first time here and it’s capable of capturing in the premium HDR10+ format that’s loaded with over a billion shades of color. There’s a dedicated bokeh engine to apply soft blur to 4K video, improved AI based-face detection capabilities that can identify up to 300 facial landmarks, an ultra-wide engine to handle de-warp and chromatic aberration correction, video super-resolution, and capabilities to use up to 30 frames instead of six in multi-frame HDR and low light capture. Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 also includes a fourth separate Always-On ISP, which allows the camera to run with extremely low power consumption so users can experience always-on face unlocking and locking if your face isn’t present for heightened privacy.

Ai Engine

The 7th Gen Qualcomm AI Engine is equipped with the ultra-high performance and efficient Qualcomm Hexagon processor, featuring a 2x faster tensor accelerator, 2x larger shared memory and up to 1.7x more power efficient than its predecessor. Hexagon is just one part of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’s 7th gen AI Engine. The 3rd gen Sensing Hub now includes a dedicated ISP of its own that supports up to VGA resolution sensors. This is tasked with running always-on facial detection tasks while ensuring low power consumption. Basically, any phone that leverages this feature will have an always-on front camera that's powered by the Sensing Hub, and it will unlock the moment you look at your phone.

Connectivity and Sound

Equipped with the 4th gen Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System, "the new Snapdragon 8 is the most advanced 5G mobile platform and the world’s first 5G modem-RF solution to reach 10 Gigabit download speeds". Qualcomm’s Fast Connect 6900 wireless subsystem supports Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi6 and 6E, although the marginally more modern Bluetooth 5.3 is absent. Users can experience a new class of crisp, crystal-clear voice and music with Snapdragon Sound Technology, now featuring Qualcomm aptX Lossless Technology for CD-quality lossless wireless audio. This is the first Snapdragon mobile platform to support all-new LE audio features such as broadcast audio, stereo recording, and voice back-channel for gaming.

Security

Snapdragon 8 features vault-like security to help keep users’ data protected. The Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit features support for iSIM, an integrated SIM card so users can easily and securely connect to cellular networks without a SIM card. This is the first Snapdragon platform to feature a dedicated Trust Management Engine to achieve heightened security and provide additional Root of Trust for apps and services. This engine is built to keep low-level data secure even if higher levels of the software stack are compromised.