Snapdragon chipsets are used in millions of Android devices and can be found in every section of the market. This year, the company’s branding policy has altered, and not only is the Snapdragon brand now distinct from “Qualcomm,” but the names of the chipsets have also changed.
This year, the firm is introducing only one processor for smartphones, and it isn’t called the Snapdragon 895 or Snapdragon 898. This is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, which will be included in several major 2022 flagships.
Qualcomm loves to brag about its efficiency and performance advancements every year, and this year is no exception. Qualcomm appears to be feeling the heat as competition between Qualcomm and MediaTek heats up (with a little help from Google and Samsung on the side).
This year’s chipset is a huge step forward from last year’s, with Qualcomm predicting major advances in artificial intelligence and graphics rendering. Qualcomm claims that changes in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 are “far in excess” of what the firm has exhibited in prior years.
New Kryo processor for Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
In March of this year, ARM released its ARMv9 architecture, which the company claims would be utilized in over 300 billion processors over the next decade. The most recent major upgrade to the ARM ISA was v8, which was released in October 2011 alongside the 64-bit AArch64 instruction set.
However, ARM has added new functionality to ARMv8 over time, such as Memory Tagging in ARMv8.5. The business has continued to use AArch64 as the basic instruction set in ARMv9 but has added new capabilities to increase security and speed. The following are the significant new characteristics of the ARMv9-A architecture, according to ARM:
SVE2: extending the benefits of scalable vectors to a broader range of applications
All developers will be able to use Confidential Compute on Arm platforms thanks to the Realm Management Extension (RME).
Profiling information, such as Auto FDO, is provided by BRBE.
Enhanced trace capabilities for Armv9 with Embedded Trace Extension (ETE) and Trace Buffer Extension (TRBE).
For the Arm architecture, TME stands for hardware transactional memory support.
The new Kryo cores from Snapdragon are based on the ARMv9 architecture. The Cortex-X2, Cortex-A710, and Cortex-A510 were the first CPU designs to be announced employing the new technology, and those are the identical CPU designs that Qualcomm’s Kryo processors are based on.
Its layout, which includes a single Cortex-X2 core, three Cortex-A710 cores, and four Cortex-A510 cores, is similar to that of the Snapdragon 888, which had a similar layout. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is built on a 4nm process (which is anticipated to be Samsung Foundry’s 4nm).
The Prime core runs at 2.995GHz, with Qualcomm’s highest speed ever being 3.1GHz on the mid-cycle Snapdragon 865 Plus update. The mid-cycle Snapdragon 888 Plus update also hit 2.995GHz with its Cortex-X1 processor. For comparison, Apple’s A15 performance cores run at 3.2GHz.
The three Kryo Performance scores are based on the ARM Cortex-A710 architecture. The Cortex-A710 is expected to improve efficiency by 30% and performance by 10% over its predecessor, the A78. The cores of the Cortex-A710 are clocked at 2.5GHz. The three Kryo Efficiency cores are built on the new Cortex-A510 architecture.
The utilization of the aged Cortex-A55 cores was a significant critique of last year’s Efficiency cores in the Snapdragon 888, so we should see a nice efficiency increase this year. The Cortex-A510 has a 35 percent performance boost over the A55, as well as a 20 percent efficiency boost. The clock speed of these cores is 1.79GHz.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 boasts several significant upgrades over the Snapdragon 888, so it’s no surprise that Qualcomm is touting efficiency gains. What needs to be seen is whether or not those advances are visible in the real world. Overall, Qualcomm claims that this year’s processor is 20% more powerful and 30% more power-efficient than the Snapdragon 888.
When it comes to Android GPU performance, Qualcomm is at the front of the heap. The Mali GPU in the Google Pixel 6 will give Qualcomm a run for its money, but Google’s juggernaut won’t be able to maintain that level of performance for very long.
Even said, Qualcomm appears to be feeling the pressure, since the company just revealed some significant upgrades to its Adreno GPU series. To begin with, this new Adreno has a 30% performance boost over the Adreno 660 in the Snapdragon 888, as well as a 25% increase in power efficiency.
Qualcomm, on the other hand, has made a variety of other enhancements that aren’t limited to number crunching. The rendering of Vulkan is supposed to be 60 percent faster, and there is a slew of new Snapdragon Elite Gaming capabilities. Sadly, despite firms like YouTube and Netflix pushing it, there appears to be no AV1 decoding support.
Gaming with Snapdragon Elite
Mobile gamers, according to Qualcomm, want to play on Snapdragon. The Adreno Frame Motion Engine is a new feature in the new Adreno GPU that allows games to operate at twice the frame rate while using half the power, or at half the power while maintaining the same frame rate. There are also other enhancements, such as Variable Rate Shading Pro, which provides for more power and performance savings.
All of this leads to the upcoming Snapdragon Elite Gaming generation, which Qualcomm claims has “desktop-level capabilities” in volumetric rendering. Fog and smoke are examples of volumetric rendering images.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 connectivity: Snapdragon X65 modem-RF system integrated, as well as FastConnect 6900.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon X65 modem, which was introduced earlier this year as the successor to the X60, is built into the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This modem can attain 10 Gigabit speeds on both standalone and non-standalone 5G networks, making it the first modem-RF system to do so.
Last year’s X60 could only reach 7.5Gbps. The Snapdragon X65 is also the first modem to support 3GPP’s 5G NR release 16, the second set of specs targeted at accelerating 5G NR adoption globally.
Qualcomm claims that the first Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 devices will be available soon. Realme has already stated that its Realme GT 2 Pro will be one of the first to ship with it, and Xiaomi has also confirmed that the Xiaomi 12 series will support it.
This year is shaping up to be another year of progress for Qualcomm, and we’ll be watching how the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 compares to the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 and Apple’s A15 Bionic processors.