Qualcomm announced last week at the Snapdragon Tech Summit the long-awaited Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the brand’s premium chipset for high-end Android phones from 2022. With details revealed, the company held a presentation to showcase the power of the new SoC , disclosing some of the promises and allowing benchmark tests to be carried out with a reference unit, in addition to presenting official numbers of the main platforms.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Brand New Era for Qualcomm
Before checking the results, it is worth remembering the specifications of Qualcomm’s new chip, and check the set offered by the giant’s reference smartphone. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the company’s first chipset to employ the ARMv9 architecture and new derived cores, in an 8-core configuration, manufactured by Samsung in unspecified 4nm lithography.
These cores are arranged in a 1 + 3 + 4 arrangement, with 1 Cortex-X2 core for maximum performance running at up to 3.0 GHz, 3 Cortex-A710 for high performance at 2.5 GHz and 4 Cortex-A510 for low consumption at 1.8GHz, supported by 6MB L3 cache and 4MB system cache. According to the manufacturer, this combination offers up to 20% more performance while consuming 30% less energy when compared to the Snapdragon 888.
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Along with performance, the launch highlights three other areas: cameras, supporting 8K recordings with HDR, compatibility with 200 MP sensors, 18-bit RAW captures, and dedicated engines for the ultrawide lens and portrait mode ; Artificial Intelligence, with 4 times more AI processing power than its predecessor and features such as Vertex AI, in partnership with Google Cloud; and games, with Adreno GPU packed with new features for premium titles.
Qualcomm’s new platform also catches attention by its name — the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 marks a new era for the San Diego company, which not only gave “independence” to the Snapdragon brand, but also sought to simplify the chip naming system.
Abandoning the use of three numbers from previous years, there are now 4 series — 8 series for high-end, 7 series for premium mid, 6 series for mid, and 4 series for entry-level smartphones — with each new processor represented by the generation it belongs to .
Powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the cell phone used in tests carried out by editor Wallace Moté, directly from Snapdragon Tech Summit, also had 8 GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 512 GB of UFS 3.1 storage, in addition to an AMOLED screen with Full HD+ resolution and rate of 144Hz update.
Official promises and benchmarks
Turning to the results, Qualcomm exhibited in-person tests of the new Snapdragon on AnTuTu and Geekbench, two of the most popular benchmarks for evaluating the overall performance of the mobile chipset and CPU processing power, respectively. The company also demonstrated a table with numbers from other tests that evaluate graphics, AI and navigation, bringing an average of 3 results.
On AnTuTu, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 easily outperformed its predecessor and two main competitors — the Pixel 6 Pro’s Google Tensor and, surprisingly, the iPhone 13 Pro’s A15 Bionic. With 1,016,444 points, the component was 24% higher than the Snapdragon 888 (823,681 points), 45% more powerful than Tensor (701,948 points), and 30% better than A15 Bionic (778,000 points).
That said, it is worth noting that AnTuTu tends to favor the chipset architecture used in Android smartphones. It’s not uncommon to see Apple chips underperforming competitors in the test, but doing much better when measured against other benchmarks, a point reinforced by Geekbench’s results.
In this case, Snapdragon 8 managed to score 1,231 points in single-core, and 3,829 points in multi-core, results only 10% and 5% better than Snapdragon 888, respectively, which scores 1,127 points in single-core and 3,639 points in multi-core smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders, Qualcomm’s own device developed in partnership with ASUS.
The numbers are more disappointing compared to the A15 Bionic: the new platform is far from Apple’s rival, which scores 1,721 points in single-core and 4,763 points in multi-core, so it is 40% and 25% slower than the solution from giant of Cupertino.
However, it’s on the GPU that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 really shines: the Adreno 730, now confirmed name of the new platform’s graphics chip, delivers 446,305 points in AnTuTu’s graphics tests.
The result is quite high and brings advantages of 37% over the Adreno 660 of the Snapdragon 888 (326,510 points), equipped in a Nubia Red Magic 6 with fans, and 35% over the 6-core GPU used in the A15 Bionic of the iPhone 13 Pro Max (332,122 points).
GFXBench, PCMark and other tests
Expected numbers for other tests, including PCMark, Speedometer and GFXBench, can be seen in detail in the table below. The highlight once again goes to the Adreno 730 GPU, which surpasses its predecessor by enormous margin, and also manages to position itself above the graphics chip present in Apple’s A15 Bionic, whether in the 5-core version of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini or in the 6-core version used on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
It has not yet been possible to check the performance in prolonged use, where loss of performance is unavoidable due to increased temperatures. Deeper tests are needed, something that will only be possible when the first cell phones with the new chip are launched.
It is also important to view the numbers released by Qualcomm with a certain level of skepticism, considering that the components are selected to show the best of the platform. The SoC should only show its true capabilities when implemented in a partner manufacturer’s design, something that should happen within the next few weeks.
In addition, we still don’t have more concrete numbers of rivals in the Android world, such as the already announced Dimensity 9000 from MediaTek and the upcoming Exynos 2200 from Samsung, with the South Korean component being the big bet in terms of GPU for 2022 due to brand partnership with AMD.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 goes public in 2021, on cell phones from brands such as Motorola, Xiaomi and Oppo, which have already announced launch events for December.
Editor Wallace Moté traveled to Hawaii at the invitation of Qualcomm to cover the Snapdragon Tech Summit.