Qualcomm has finally unveiled its flagship chipset that will power most high-end Android smartphones in 2022. And in line with rumors, the next-gen Snapdragon mobile chipset is called Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and it’s already making headlines for its new microarchitecture. After Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm has decided to spin off Snapdragon as a standalone brand and overhaul its naming scheme. The Snapdragon 898 is now called Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. There are many things going with the chipset, including and especially the improved Cortex-X2 core, 4nm process technology, new AI capabilities, and more. So if you want to learn all about the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, follow our in-depth explainer below. We have discussed everything about the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, including the CPU, GPU, ISP, etc.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Chipset Detailed (2021)
In this article, we have explained everything about the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (aka the Snapdragon 898) announced by Qualcomm. We have included the specs sheet as well as offered a good look at the CPU, GPU, ISP, AI, modem, and other technologies. You can expand the table below and move to any relevant section of your choice. With that said, let’s dive in!
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Specifications
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|CPU||Kryo CPU, Octa-core CPU|
|CPU Cores||1x 3.0GHz (Cortex-X2)
3x 2.5GHz (Cortex A710)
4x 1.8GHz (Cortex A510)
|Process Technology||Samsung’s 4nm|
|GPU||Adreno GPU; Snapdragon Elite Gaming|
|Machine Learning and AI||7th-gen AI Engine; 3rd Gen Sensing Hub|
|ISP||18-Bit ISP; Snapdragon Sight|
|Camera Capability||3.2 Gigapixels per second, 240 12MP photos in one second|
|Video Capability||8K HDR, 18-bit RAW, Dedicated Bokeh Engine|
|Modem||5G Modem-RF, Up to 10 Gbps Peak Download|
|WiFi Support||Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E|
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU
Starting with the CPU first, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is developed on Samsung’s 4nm process, which makes it the second SoC after the MediaTek Dimensity 9000 to be built on the 4nm fabrication process. And similar to the Dimensity 9000, the Gen 1 SoC employs a single powerful ARM Cortex-X2 core clocked at 3.0GHz.
The Cortex-X2 core is paired with three new Cortex-A710 cores at 2.5GHz, and four power-efficient Cortex-A510 cores at 1.8GHz. All three cores are built on ARM’s new Armv9 microarchitecture, which brings better performance and battery efficiency.
The ARM Cortex-X2 is the successor to the power-hungry Cortex-X1, which was not received well on the Snapdragon 888 due to excessive heating and battery drain issues. However, with the Cortex-X2, Qualcomm wants to overturn last year’s issues and bring a highly-powerful core with better thermal performance.
It’s being touted that the Cortex-X2 brings 16% performance improvement over the X1. But that is not all. What I find interesting is that the new A710 and A510 cores have also gone through huge improvements. The new Cortex-A710 brings a 10% performance jump over the Cortex-A78 core with 30% less power, and that is really good.
Similarly, the Cortex-A510 core brings 35% performance improvement with 20% power efficiency over the aging A55 core. Earlier, we had lamented the fact that ARM was not improving the A55 core since 2017, but it’s heartening to see the progress this year. And we are happy to see that Qualcomm has not missed the chance to include the new Cortex-A510 core for high-efficiency tasks.
In summation, all three cores combined, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is 20% faster and 30% more power-efficient than last year’s Snapdragon 888. Although it seems a marginal increase, it’s not a bad number, especially when you consider the power efficiency numbers.
As for the Snapdragon 898 AnTuTu or Geekbench scores (aka Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 benchmark numbers), we don’t have any figures yet. As we get to test the first smartphones powered by this chip in the coming weeks, we will update the article with single and multi-core scores. For now, we can say that the CPU on the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings an all-around update with new Armv9 architecture, better power-efficiency cores, and a powerful X2 core.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 GPU
On the GPU side, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 packs a new Adreno GPU. As per the company, it bring a 30% performance improvement with 25% less power draw in comparison to Snapdragon 888. If we put numbers into perspective, last year’s Adreno 660 GPU had seen an improvement of 35% in the performance department.
Basically, on the GPU front, we are not seeing anything substantial from Qualcomm this year. The improvements have been steady at best, and Qualcomm needs to up its game significantly to beat Apple in the GPU department.
That said, for gamers, the new Snapdragon SoC features Snapdragon Elite Gaming, which promises to bring desktop-level graphics on your smartphones. It has a dedicated Frame Motion Engine for sustained gaming performance without dropping the frame rate. It supports frame rate rendering of up to 144Hz.
Also, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 supports volumetric rendering for generating a hyper-realistic atmosphere in real-time. Besides that, if you love HDR gaming, the Gen 1 chipset will not disappoint you. You get support for true 10-bit HDR and Adreno Fast Blend to accelerate the blending of multiple layers quickly while gaming.
Not to mention, Qualcomm had brought the ability to update GPU drivers independently with Snapdragon 888. And the same continues for Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. And to improve the gaming experience, Qualcomm has partnered with gaming studios such as Tencent, Niantic, Krafton, etc. All in all, I would say that the improvements in the GPU department on the Gen 1 chip are along the expected lines. However, with dedicated engines and new technologies, Qualcomm is trying to improve the gaming performance significantly on Android smartphones.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 ISP
Building on last year’s triple ISP architecture, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 packs a new 18-bit ISP that can shoot up to 3.2 Gigapixels in a second. For comparison, last year’s Spectra 580 ISP could capture 2.7 Gigapixels per second. It can take 240 photos of 12MP resolution in one second, which is just bonkers.
And to improve the dynamic range, the ISP supports more than 4 levels of exposure in real-time. What’s more, low-light photography has also seen multi-fold improvements. It’s capable of capturing 5x more light in the same time frame as last year’s ISP.
On the video front, the 18-bit ISP can shoot 8K HDR videos and a 64MP photo without breaking a sweat. Not to mention, it can also capture 18-bit RAW footage, in case you are into professional video editing. I love the fact that the new ISP has a dedicated Bokeh engine. It will let you create a blurred background while shooting a video and supports over 300 facial landmarks for AI-based facial detection. But note that it’s only limited to 4K resolution. You will finally be able to shoot videos similar to iPhone’s cinematic mode on Android smartphones.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 AI and ML
On the AI and ML front, Qualcomm has been the leader, only ousted by perhaps the Google Tensor chip recently. Qualcomm does not put a number upfront in its official documents, but says the AI performance has seen an improvement of 4x than last year’s Snapdragon 888. The new 7th-gen AI engine is capable of performing 2x more operations in Tensor accelerator, and at the same time, said to be 1.7x more power-efficient.
It also features the 3rd-gen Sensing Hub for instant voice pickup, noise cancellation, and performing other low-powered operations in a neural network. To sum up, AI and ML co-processors on the Gen 1 chipset are powerful, but again it depends on the OEM to provide you with a meaningful AI experience. Will Android phone makers be able to match up to Google Tensor and the Pixel 6’s AI capabilities? Only time will tell.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 5G Modem and Wireless Tech
This year, Qualcomm is not going gung-ho about 5G and a promise of a more connected, smarter world. The integrated 5G modem on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has definitely been upgraded and now supports 10Gbps of peak download speed. Last year’s X60 5G modem had a maximum throughput of 7.5Gbps. In addition, the new modem has support for usual radio technologies such as 5G carrier aggregation, 5G mmWave and sub-6GHz bands.
As for Wi-Fi, the FastConnect Subsystem on Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 comes equipped with Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. You also get support for Bluetooth 5.2. But the best part is that Qualcomm is adding CD-quality Lossless Audio support over Bluetooth, which is amazing. Also, it adds support for Bluetooth LE for low-powered Bluetooth consumption.
Learn Everything About Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
So that was all about the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset announced by Qualcomm. In terms of performance, the Gen 1 chipset is not a breakthrough, but it has moved to a new Armv9 architecture, which according to ARM, will get better from next year. It’s safe to say that Qualcomm’s latest SoC is not in the realm of Apple’s A-series chipset. But you should wait for our detailed comparison of the A15 Bionic and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Anyway, that was our opinion. But what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.