Qualcomm is the biggest chipset maker in the Android world, and after last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the company released the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. It was one of the best mobile chipsets we’ve had never tested, although it came with fierce competition from the likes of MediaTek. Now, however, the company’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 builds on the success of last year’s Plus model, made using TSMC’s manufacturing process and featuring reinforced cores.
However, the CPU is not the only part that has been improved. Almost every part of this SoC has seen a change for the better, with the new Adreno GPU sporting Vulkan 1.3, AV1 decoding support, and both 25% better performance and 25% more efficiency. Hexagon Direct Link is also a nice addition, as it serves as a direct link between all parts of the SoC and the Hexagon DSP for AI calculations, improving latency between core components that may need AI, such as graphics and memory.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: Specifications
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (sm8550)|
|Memory||LPDDR5X @ 4200MHz, 16GB|
|loading||Qualcomm Quick Charge 5|
|Manufacturing process||4nm TSMC|
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: more performance cores than ever
Qualcomm has done something particularly interesting with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 that we don’t usually see, and it’s a reworking of the base layout. Instead of a typical 1+3+4 seen in many chipsets, Qualcomm has opted for 1+4+3 instead. That means one main core, four performance cores, and three efficiency cores.
What’s even weirder about this configuration is that it’s not just four performance cores that are identical; there are two A715 cores and two A710 cores. The A710 allows execution of AArch32 or 32-bit code, while the A715 drops 32-bit support. It’s unclear if this will impact efficiency, as the A715 boasts a 20% efficiency improvement over the A710 and 5% better performance.
The main core is an Arm Cortex-X3, and it is clocked at 3.19 GHz. At 3.3 GHz, according to Arm, the Cortex-X3 will run 25 percent faster in single-threaded operations than the 2.9 GHz Cortex-X2. This is an architectural improvement and one that should still result in higher performance, even at a slightly lower clock speed than Arm’s own tests.
Finally, the company also included three A510R1 cores as efficiency cores. These efficiency cores are also known as A510 Refresh and also support AArch32.
Overall, the design of this chipset is quite strange. MediaTek opted to use only A510R1 cores for 32-bit execution, whereas the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 uses two A715 cores and two A710 cores, presumably for 32-bit execution as well. Since 32-bit-only apps are likely to be apps designed for older Android smartphones, it doesn’t make much sense to require two dedicated performance cores that essentially only exist to support 32-bit, especially when they come with downgrades.
While Qualcomm advertises this as a 1+4+3 system, it looks much more like a 1+2+2+3 system. It should be noted that all efficiency and performance information that Qualcomm has shared with us is compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, not the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 improved things. plotand I’d be curious to see how it compares to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: minimal GPU improvements
Qualcomm didn’t share many GPU-related improvements, but we do know that the new Adreno offers 25% better performance and 45% better power efficiency. Qualcomm is probably feeling the heat from Arm’s Mali GPUs finally starting to pick up steam, especially when it comes to Vulkan performance. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 supports Vulkan 1.3, offering a 30% improvement over last year’s implementation. Ray tracing support is available for more realistic highlights and shadows.
Finally, there is also AV1 support for 8K 60 FPS. Companies like YouTube and Netflix have been pushing it for a while now as a successor to VP9, and with more widespread adoption in the mobile ecosystem, it’s likely we’ll see more services using it in the future. .
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 connectivity: Integrated Snapdragon X70 and FastConnect 7800 modem-RF system
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has an integrated Snapdragon X70 modem, which has been announced earlier this year at Mobile World Congress. The Qualcomm Snapdragon X70 modem incorporates AI features it claims can improve 5G speeds, coverage, latency and power efficiency for sub-6GHz and mmWave bandwidths.
There are four key elements to the AI suite introduced in the Snapdragon X70 modem. The first is an AI-based channel state feedback and optimization algorithm that can increase average downlink and uplink speeds. Second, an AI-based mmWave beam management to increase coverage, then an AI-based network selection algorithm.
In addition to this, the company has also introduced FastConnect 7800, offering both low latency Wi-Fi 7 and dual Bluetooth connectivity support. It has up to 5.8 Gbps of Wi-Fi uplink and Wi-Fi latency of less than 2ms.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 ISP: Improving the Spectra ISP with AI
Qualcomm’s Spectra ISP is at the heart of its image processing, and it looks like this time around we’re not getting as big of an upgrade as in previous years. However, the company’s AI enhancements particularly lend themselves to the camera. This is thanks to Hexagon Direct Link, which allows different parts of the SoC (including the ISP Spectra) to interface directly with the Hexagon DSP and its neural networks. It improves both the performance and the latency of the calculations, which should in turn improve the photo taking capabilities.
Accordingly, Qualcomm calls it a “cognitive ISP”. The ISP can receive context through a feature the company calls real-time segmentation, which allows the camera to essentially see the world in layers. Previously, this feature would have been implemented after the photo or video was taken and applied in processing, but now Qualcomm says it can be done in real time.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: Initial Thoughts
Qualcomm says the first Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powered devices will be here by the end of 2022. We’ll be keeping an eye on how the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 performs against the likes of the MediaTek Dimension 9200.
Qualcomm has confirmed that the following companies will launch Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 powered devices: Redmagic, Honor, ZTE, Xiaomi, Meizu, Vivo, Sony, Redmi, OPPO, nubia, Motorola, OnePlus, Sharp, Asus and iQOO.