Qualcomm’s next chip for flagship smartphones in 2022 is the “Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.” It’s the first chip to use the company’s new branding and naming system.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has a 1+3+4 configuration led by the Arm Cortex X2 Prime core that’s clocked up to 3GHz (2.995GHz, precisely). There are three Cortex A71 Performance cores at 2.5GHz and four 1.8GHz Cortex A51s Efficiency cores.

In all, the Kryo CPU is 20% faster while offering power savings of 30%. Support for up to 16GB of LPDDR5 (3200MHz) memory is unchanged from the 888+. Additionally, it’s now built on a 4nm (from 5) process, and the Adreno GPU is 30% faster with 25% power savings.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Qualcomm is focusing on several tentpoles with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. On the photography front, there’s an 18-bit Spectra ISP (image signal processor) that captures 4,096x more camera data than its previous 14-bit predecessor. In practice, this means 240 12MP shots in one second. Video-wise, there’s 8K HDR capture at 30FPS that allows for simultaneous 64MP images. You can also snap 36MP photos from three lenses simultaneously or a 200MP shot from a single lens. The maximum sensor configurations are as follows:

  • Up to 36 MP triple camera @ 30 FPS with Zero Shutter Lag
  • Up to 64+36 MP dual camera @ 30 FPS with Zero Shutter Lag
  • Up to 108 MP single camera @ 30 FPS with Zero Shutter Lag

Meanwhile, the 3rd Gen Sensing Hub adds an always-on ISP — the 8 Gen 1’s fourth — to complement an AI processor, DSP, and memory. This allows the (front-facing) camera to “run with extremely low power consumption” for always-on face unlock that makes possible “locking if your face isn’t present.” Speaking of machine learning workloads, the 7th Gen AI Engine is 4x faster than before at AI tasks.

To highlight the hardware additions, Qualcomm is touting a number of software partnerships. There’s “integrated Leica Leitz Looks filters” that “re-create” the camera brand’s bokeh and color style, while Sonde Health can use the on-device AI improvements to analyze vocal patterns to monitor physical and mental health/fitness. This specifically entails looking for conditions like “asthma, depression, and COVID-19.” There’s also natural language processing from Hugging Face so that “your device can now analyze and intelligently group and prioritize all your notifications.” Consumer interest — and OEM adoption — of these capabilities remains to be seen.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Other capabilities include a 4th Gen Snapdragon X65 5G modem that can reach up to 10Gbps, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E speeds (up to 3.6Gbps), and Bluetooth 5.2. The chip also features a Trust Management Engine and supports Android Ready SE for digital car keys and drivers’ licenses.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will be used by: Black Shark, Honor, iQOO, Motorola, Nubia, OnePlus, Opposite, Realme, Sharp, Sony, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE. The first device is expected by the end of 2021. 

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Qualcomm announces ‘Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’ with always-on camera support for face un/lock
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