Qualcomm unveiled its next-generation chipset for flagship Android devices and it brings improvements across the board. In a way, it is a clean break from previous designs as it switches over to the new ARMv9 instruction set and a new naming scheme. We won’t have to wait long to see it in action, the first commercially available phones with the new chip will come out before the end of the year.
Meet the Snapdragon 8 Gen1 – that’s the new naming scheme, digit for class (8 being flagship) and a generation. It is Qualcomm’s first 4nm chipset and the first to use this new generation of the CPU architecture. There is much to talk about the camera hardware, so we’ll break that out into a separate article.
The CPU maintains the three cluster design, however, the cores are now based on the ARMv9 designs. This means that the prime core is a Cortex-X2 and it will run at 3.0GHz. Backing it are three performance cores based on the Cortex-A710, those will run at 2.5GHz, and four efficiency cores based on the A510 running at 1.8GHz.
Overall, the new CPU will be 20% faster than the one in the Snapdragon 888 while also reducing power usage by up to 30%.
Moving over to the GPU, the new Adreno promises a 30% performance boost and up to 25% power saving thanks to its new architecture. Qualcomm actually developed three Elite Gaming features, one of which will allow developers to strike a balance between performance and power efficiency.
The Adreno Frame Motion Engine allows the GPU to render a game at double 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 new feature is desktop-class volumetric rendering. Volumetric lighting is used for dramatic lighting effects, e.g. the God rays that level designers seem to love so much. Also new is Variable Rate Shading Pro, an image-based VRS that should streamline the integration of VRS into more games. Qualcomm has partnered with some of the largest game developers to ensure their games make the best out of the hardware.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 features an integrated X65 5G modem, which supports both sub-6 and mmWave operation and can deliver theoretical peak speeds of 10 Gbps. For the first time it also supports carrier aggregation for the uplink.
Local connectivity enjoys Wi-Fi 6 and 6E support, plus improvements to Bluetooth. The new chip can stream CD Lossless Audio over Bluetooth LE. It supports Bluetooth LE Audio, which represents a major advancement over existing tech. The Broadcast Audio feature allows one source to broadcast one or several audio streams to an unlimited number of receivers. Stereo recording will also be supported along with voice-back channels.
Qualcomm also worked to improve the security of the chip by introducing the Trust Management Engine, which will sit below the hypervisor (which was introduced with the 888). The TME will remain secure even if the security zones above it are compromised.
The first flagships powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will launch before the end of the year, expect announcements soon.