Qualcomm is the largest chipset maker in the Android world, and following last year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the company released the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. This was one of the best mobile chipsets we’ve 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 in TSMC’s manufacturing process and with 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 running Vulkan 1.3, AV1 decoding support and 25% better performance and 25% more efficiency. Hexagon Direct Link is also an interesting addition, serving 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||4200MHz LPDDR5X, 16GB|
|charging||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 normally see, and that’s a reorganization of the core design. Instead of the typical 1+3+4 we see on many chipsets, Qualcomm went with 1+4+3. This means one main core, four performance cores, and three efficiency cores.
What’s even weirder about this setup is that it’s not just four performance cores that are the same; there are two A715 cores and two A710 cores. The A710 supports AArch32 or 32-bit code execution, while the A715 drops 32-bit support. It is not clear if this will have any impact on efficiency, as the A715 boasts a 20% improvement in efficiency over the A710 and 5% more performance.
The main core is an Arm Cortex-X3 and is clocked at 3.19 GHz. At 3.3 GHz, according to Arm, the Cortex-X3 will perform 25% faster in single-threaded operations than the Cortex-X2 at 2.9 GHz. That’s an architectural improvement and one that should still translate to higher performance even at a slightly lower clock speed than Arm’s own test.
Finally, the company has also included three A510R1 cores as efficiency cores. These efficiency cores are also known as A510 Refresh and are also compatible with AArch32.
In general, the design of this chipset is quite strange. MediaTek opted to use only A510R1 cores for 32-bit execution, while 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 basically exist just to enable 32-bit support, especially when they come with markdowns.
While Qualcomm advertises this as a 1+4+3 system, it looks much more like a 1+2+2+3 system. It’s worth noting that all of the efficiency and performance data Qualcomm shared with us is benchmarked against the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and not the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. The Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 improved things a batchand I’d like to see how it compares to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: Minor GPU improvements
Qualcomm didn’t share many GPU-related improvements, but we do know that the new Adreno has 25% better performance and 45% more energy efficiency. Qualcomm is likely to feel the heat from Arm’s Mali GPUs, which are finally starting to pick up steam, particularly when it comes to Vulkan performance. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 supports Vulkan 1.3, a 30% improvement over last year’s implementation. There is ray tracing support available for more realistic reflections and shadows.
Finally, there is also AV1 support for 8K 60 FPS. Companies like YouTube and Netflix have been pushing it for quite some time as a successor to VP9, and with more widespread adoption in the mobile ecosystem, we’ll likely 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 was announced earlier this year at Mobile World Congress. The Qualcomm Snapdragon X70 modem includes AI features that 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, there’s AI-based mmWave beam management to increase coverage, then an AI-based network selection algorithm.
Apart from that, the company also introduced FastConnect 7800, which offers low latency Wi-Fi 7 and dual Bluetooth connectivity support. It has a Wi-Fi uplink of up to 5.8 Gbps and a Wi-Fi latency of less than 2 ms.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 ISP: Spectra ISP Enhancement with AI
Qualcomm’s ISP Spectra is the heart of its image processing, and it seems like this time around, we’re not getting nearly as big of an upgrade as we have been in years past. Nevertheless, the company’s AI enhancements lend themselves to the camera in particular. That’s thanks to Hexagon Direct Link, which allows different parts of the SoC (including Spectra’s ISP) to interact. directly with Hexagon DSP and its neural networks. It improves both throughput and latency for computations, which in turn should lead to better photo-taking capabilities.
As a result, Qualcomm calls this 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 taking the photo or video and applying it to 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 compared to devices like the MediaTek Dimension 9200.
Qualcomm 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.