Qualcomm’s annual Snapdragon Summit is the chance for the chipmaker to showcase its latest silicon and the advancements its technologies bring to the next wave of devices and experiences in mobile, automation, audio, mixed reality and more.
As part of the proceedings, it’s also where the company’s next flagship mobile chip usually debuts as well (the one likely to power the next wave of top-tier Android phones) and, sure enough, on November 15, the The highlight of the first day of the Summit was the unveiling of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.
Flights and accommodation for this launch event were funded by Qualcomm, but opinions reflect the writer’s own independent opinion.
Those following Qualcomm’s current mobile chipset naming convention might have guessed that – following the departure from a three-digit system the previous year – the successor to the 2021 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 would be the 8 Gen 2, and now it is galvanized.
To those in the know, the underlying CPU architecture (a ‘first’ core, supported by four performance cores and three efficiency cores) may not seem like a significant departure from its predecessor, but Qualcomm has made a host of tweaks to its latest and greatest mobile SoC (system on chip) that bring significant improvements to key aspects of the mobile computing experience; such as AI processing, gaming fidelity, image processing, connectivity and energy efficiency.
- 1 Cut to the chase
- 2 Cameras that understand what they are looking at
- 3 Better gaming visuals, including ray tracing
- 4 More simultaneous AI tasks, with less power consumption
- 5 Upgraded Sensing Hub that is always on
- 6 Even faster and more flexible 5G and WiFi
- 7 Everything else you need to know about the 8 Gen 2
- 8 Which phones will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2?
Cut to the chase
- What is it? Qualcomm’s new flagship mobile chipset
- When will the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 launch? Consumers will likely get their hands on smartphones with the 8 Gen 2 as early as December 2022, but most devices using the chip will arrive in the first half of 2023.
- How much does the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 cost? Qualcomm sells the 8 Gen 2 directly to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) – such as Motorola, OnePlus and Xiaomi – so that end users only pay for the silicon as part of the total cost of the smartphones that use it. As the top of the latest generation of the company’s Snapdragon line, it will power devices that, at least initially, command flagship prices; probably in the region of $800 / £700 / AU$1,200 and above.
So, what are the most notable improvements the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 brings, and why should you care enough to actually want to upgrade to a phone that uses it?
Cameras that understand what they are looking at
One of the most exciting improvements that brings some of the most tangible benefits to users is the 8 Gen 2’s ‘Cognitive ISP’.
What Qualcomm calls a “world first,” this generation’s Spectra ISP (image signal processor) inherits the existing image segmentation of its predecessor, but brings the added benefit of real-time processing. This means your device’s camera can distinguish the sky from the ground, distinguish your cat from the freshly made bed it wants to snuggle on or the flower among the foliage in the background and, at the pixel level, color, tone, algorithms for sharpness and noise reduction to get the best final shot.
The real kicker is that it can apply this level of real-time processing to both stills and video, even displaying a more accurate end result in the viewfinder while capturing with minimal lag. So you know that what you see and what you get after you press the shutter button or shoot will mirror each other more directly.
A feature that will no doubt help the next wave of top camera phones stand out from the non-8 Gen 2 powered competition.
Better gaming visuals, including ray tracing
In 2021, a key area where Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 chip stood out from its like-minded rival – the 8 Gen 1 – was the inclusion of support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing (expect better visuals in gaming, punctuated by accurate reflections, soft shadows and ambient occlusion) .
Naturally, Qualcomm was eager to address that with its next follow-up and sure enough, the 8 Gen 2 commits to delivering hardware-accelerated ray tracing on mobile; with confirmed partners such as the maker of some of the best gaming phones out there – Red Magic, and supported titles like War Thunder.
The Adreno GPU at work on the 8 Gen 2 promises 25% faster performance while also delivering up to 45% more power efficiency, along with renewed support for Vulkan 1.3, China’s ‘HDR Vivid’ standard and a feature called OLED -aging compensation. .
More simultaneous AI tasks, with less power consumption
AI (yes, artificial intelligence) has been the rising star in mobile computing in recent years, and that trend continues with the 8 Gen 2.
While every major element of the SoC already uses AI to some degree, this generation’s dedicated Hexagon processor offers a revised toolset (including a Tensor accelerator that has doubled in size) that will deliver significant benefits.
Qualcomm promises a 4.35x speed boost when performing AI-based tasks, thanks in part to the fact that the 8 Gen 2 is the first of its kind to leverage something called INT4 (integer 4) precision; enabling 60% more simultaneous AI-based tasks per watt.
Through what can only be arcane wizardry, Qualcomm is able to scale down 32-bit processes to 4-bit without compromising the quality of the datasets being processed. up to a 64x power reduction.
Upgraded Sensing Hub that is always on
Modern telephones can already help us convert the analog world to digital; with features like semantic text recognition and object recognition, but the Sensing Hub in the 8 Gen 2 is built specifically to help with such tasks; with two AI processing cores for up to double the AI performance compared to 8 Gen 1, along with 50% more memory than before.
The Sensing Hub supports an “always-sensing camera” (a rewording of the last-generation “always-on camera”), which is great for everything from scanning QR codes to face proximity detection, facial recognition, and even eye tracking – all without having to actively open your device’s camera app.
Asghar confirmed to BingoTingo that multiple OEM partners are particularly interested in this aspect of the Sensing Hub, suggesting that the next wave of phones powered by the 8 Gen 2 may have the ability to scan and read QR codes and the like. use it without even having to. wake up or open certain apps to interact with it.
Despite being always on, Qualcomm also states that the data processed by the Sensing Hub does not leave your device.
Even faster and more flexible 5G and WiFi
Featuring the Snapdragon X70 5G modem, the 8th Gen 2 not only supports up to 10 Gbps down and 3.5 Gbps up over 5G, but it’s also the first on the scene to boast DSDA (Dual SIM Dual Active) for two 5G SIM cards at a time and also features its own AI processor to optimize mobile performance and power.
As before, mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, along with standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) modes are all supported.
What’s more – while WiFi 6E feels like it’s barely out the door – the FastConnect 7800 in the 8 Gen 2 makes it one of the first pieces of consumer silicon to support WiFi 7 bandwidth and speeds; loses only to MediaTek’s new Dimensity 9200 chipset, which was announced just days earlier.
With the increasing popularity of video streaming at increasingly higher fidelity and bit rates, along with the growing interest in cloud gaming and competitive mobile gaming, these upgrades are essential for those experiences to evolve.
Everything else you need to know about the 8 Gen 2
Touched on at the top of this article, the TSMC-made 4nm 8 Gen 2 has a now-known Kryo CPU octa-core architecture; split between a premium Cortex-X3 core (clocked up to 3.2 GHz), four performance cores (clocked up to 2.8 GHz), and three efficiency cores (up to 2.0 GHz) – marking a shift that now sees that fourth efficiency core manifest instead acts as a fourth performance core.
Asghar said those large cores are closer to smaller cores in terms of power consumption than ever before, reflected in the 8 Gen 2 Kryo CPUs’ promise of a 35% speed improvement, but at the same time promising a 40% power saving.
Another great upgrade for media enthusiasts is the chipset’s new dynamic spatial audio functionality; allowing the sound to shift in spatial content relative to the position of the listener’s head, promising to deliver more immersive media consumption.
Which phones will use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2?
While Oppo is the first company to confirm that its next Find X-branded flagship Android phone (presumed to run on the Oppo Find X6 series) will run on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (despite no launch date confirmed yet). Qualcomm detailed a number of other partners when unveiling the chip.
Asus, Honor, Motorola OnePlus, Oppo, Sony, Vivo, Xiaomi, ZTE and more have all committed to shipping 8 Gen 2 devices in the near future, but who will be first remains to be seen.
Xiaomi and Motorola battled for the claim to offer the world’s first phone powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, with the Motorola Edge X30 taking the lead over the Xiaomi 12 in December 2021. As such, chances are we can expect to see the same two-horse race before we usher in 2023.