Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: Is It a Powerful Upgrade?

In its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, successor to its flagship Snapdragon 888 mobile platform. In case you are unaware, Qualcomm has overhauled the naming scheme of its products, including its flagship processor for Android smartphones. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is said to be a major step-up since it comes with a fresh architecture and all-new cores. We recently compared the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 with A15 Bionic and Exynos 2100, and you can see how the latest Qualcomm chip compares to other flagship chips. In the same vein, we pit Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 against the Dimensity 9000 to find the best chipset that you will find in Android smartphones in 2022. However, we bring you a comparison between Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888 from last year in this article. Has Qualcomm finally pulled it off? To find the answer, let’s jump right in.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: An In-depth Comparison (2021)

In this article, we have compared Qualcomm’s in-house chipsets from this year and last year, namely Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 888, respectively. We have discussed the CPU, GPU, ISP, and all other aspects of both the processors. You can expand the table below and move to whichever section you want.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: Specifications

 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Snapdragon 888
CPUKryo CPU, Octa-core CPUKryo 680, Octa-core CPU
CPU Cores1x 3.0GHz (Cortex-X2)
3x 2.5GHz (Cortex A710)
4x 1.8GHz (Cortex A510)
1x 2.84GHz (Cortex-X1)
3x 2.4GHz (Cortex A78)
4x 1.8GHz (Cortex A55)
Process TechnologySamsung’s 4nmSamsung’s 5nm
GPUAdreno GPU; Snapdragon Elite GamingAdreno 660
Machine Learning and AI7th-gen AI Engine; 3rd Gen Sensing Hub; 27TOPS6th-gen AI accelerator featuring Hexagon 780 DSP; 26 TOPS
ISP18-Bit ISP; Snapdragon SightSpectra 580
Camera Capability3.2 Gigapixels per second, 240 12MP photos in one secondUp to 200 MP ; 28 MP triple camera with Zero Shutter Lag ; Triple 14-bit ISPs
Video Capability8K HDR, 18-bit RAW, Dedicated Bokeh Engine8K @ 30 FPS, 4K HDR Dolby @ 60FPS, 720p @ 960FPS
ModemX65 5G Modem-RF, Up to 10 Gbps Peak DownloadQualcomm X60 5G Modem
7.5 Gbps Peak Download
3 Gbps Peak Upload
WiFi SupportWi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E
BluetoothBluetooth 5.2, LEBluetooth 5.2, LE

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: CPU

Before anything, let’s discuss what upgrades the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings over the Snapdragon 888. First off, unlike the Snapdragon 888 that was built on older Armv8 architecture, the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is developed on ARM’s latest Armv9 architecture. The new architecture is touted to bring better performance, security, and thermal efficiency.

Besides that, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is built on a 4nm process node, whereas last year’s Snapdragon 888 is developed using a 5nm fabrication process. It means Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings some much-needed battery life and thermal performance improvements in tow.

In terms of CPU core design, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 comes with the upgraded Cortex-X2 core clocked at 3.0GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.5GHz, and four A510 cores at 1.8GHz. The Snapdragon 888, in contrast, packs the older Cortex-X1 core amped at 2.84GHz, three Cortex-A78 cores at 2.4GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores at 1.8GHz. In essence, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 comes with all new cores and fresh architecture.

Snapdragon 888

Talking specifically about the cores, the Cortex-X2 is supposed to bring 16% performance improvement over the Cortex-X1. On the other hand, the new Cortex-A710 core brings 10% performance gains while drawing 30% less power in comparison to the Cortex-A78 core. Also, the new Cortex-A510 core is 35% faster than the aging Cortex-A55 core and 20% more power-efficient.

In summation, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is 20% faster and 30% more power-efficient than last year’s Snapdragon 888. All in all, I would say that the CPU on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings a qualitative update this year. The numbers are not big, but the improvements in A710 and A510 cores are significant.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: GPU

Moving to GPU, the new Adreno GPU on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is 30% faster than Adreno 660 GPU on the Snapdragon 888. At the same time, it’s 25% more power-efficient than Snapdragon 888’s GPU. The improvement in the GPU department seems meaty, but we have been seeing the same 30% – 35% performance jump over the last few years. And this year too, it’s the same story.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Talking about other features, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 comes with a dedicated Frame Motion Engine for sustained gaming performance without dropping the frame rate. You also get volumetric rendering for generating a hyper-realistic atmosphere in real-time. On top of that, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 promises to bring desktop-level graphics with true 10-bit HDR gaming. What’s interesting is that Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the first Qualcomm mobile platform to support Unreal Engine 5.

Snapdragon 888

As for similarities, both the GPUs support Adreno Fast Blend, updateable GPU drivers, and many features under Snapdragon Elite Gaming. Overall, the GPU improvement on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is iterative, and Qualcomm seems more inclined towards enhancing the gaming experience with new features. How much will this translate to better gaming performance on Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones is left to be seen.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: ISP

The 14-bit Spectra 580 ISP on the Snapdragon 888 was praised for its triple-cluster architecture. And building on that, the new 18-bit ISP on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 can capture a whooping 3.2 Gigapixels per second. For comparison, the ISP on Snapdragon 888 could go up to 2.7 Gigapixels. Plus, the new 18-bit ISP can shoot 8K HDR videos while also having room for a 64MP image.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Besides that, Qualcomm has enhanced a plethora of features with the new ISP. Low-light photography has seen 5x improvement over the Snapdragon 888. It can capture four levels of exposure in real-time to improve HDR videos and dynamic range in images. There is also support for 18-bit RAW in case you are into advanced video editing. And to make your videos look more cinematic, there is a dedicated Bokeh engine for creating a blurred background while shooting videos. I think ISP is one area where Qualcomm has improved by leaps and bounds, and the 18-bit ISP on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a huge upgrade over Snapdragon 888’s ISP.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: AI and ML

In terms of AI and ML performance, Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is four times more powerful than Snapdragon 888. Its 7th-gen AI Engine is capable of performing 27 TOPS in INT8 quantization and 13TOPS in INT16 operations. Note that the AI co-processor on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is 1.7x more power-efficient than Snapdragon 888’s 6th-gen AI engine. In comparison, the Snapdragon 888 can perform up to 26 trillion operations per second.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

In addition, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings 3rd-gen Sensing Hub for instant camera activation, noise cancellation, and other low-powered AI/ ML tasks. I would say the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a significant step-up from the Snapdragon 888 in terms of AI performance, but it will squarely depend on OEMs to offer a useful and meaningful AI experience.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: Modem and Wireless Tech

Moving from the integrated Snapdragon X60 5G modem on the Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm has brought the latest Snapdragon X65 5G modem on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. It’s capable of delivering peak download speed up to 10Gbps whereas Snapdragon 888 could go up to 7.5Gbps. Apart from that, you get mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G band support along with Carrier Aggregation on both the modems.

The FastConnect 6900 subsystem is the same on both SoCs. You get Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2, LE on both processors. Overall, in terms of wireless connectivity, everything is the same except for the upgraded modem on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Snapdragon 888: Which One Would You Pick?

So that was our comprehensive comparison between Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 888. As we can observe, both CPU and GPU have gone through an iterative update. However, the new Armv9 architecture, the improved fabrication process, and all new cores may do the trick for Qualcomm this year. Last year’s Snapdragon 888 was not received well due to excessive heating, but things may finally turn around this year. Anyway, that is our opinion. But what do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comment below. Meanwhile, you can also go through our comparison between Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Google Tensor.

Comments 1
  • Every year Qualcomm makes phone chips that are very powerful and have great features which are found on every phone manufacture on the market except for Apple. Google formally used Qualcomm chips for awhile which was great, however Google decided to start making their own chips(tensor and now tensor 2) which was a step backwards as their current flagship ( pixel 7 pro) phone pales in performance vs 8 gen 1 based phones and of coarse even worse against 8 gen 2 based phones which proves Google should have stuck with Qualcomm all along.

    Changing gears, Qualcomm makes great modems and their current flagship (x70) modem integrated into the 8 gen 2 chip delivers utmost performance. And even their older models x60 and x65 modems delivers good performances also, so much so that Apple currently uses them in their iphones.

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