As expected, Qualcomm opened the first day of the Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii by announcing its most powerful mobile processor. Rebranded Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in 2021, the new SoC is known as Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 — or “Snapdragon® 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform” if you want to please the marketing and legal departments.
After this year’s sudden jump from Samsung Foundry’s 4LPE process in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (SD 8g1 from now on) to TSMC’s more efficient N4 process in 8+g1, it’s no surprise that the second-generation 8th generation is made in the same N4 process. It guarantees the best balance between performance and power consumption in the Android market, and competes on equal terms with competitor MediaTek Dimensity 9200.
Faster cores with a different design
Speaking of dimensions, while MediaTek followed the traditional 1 + 3 + 4 core architecture which featured the split between ultra-fast cores, performance and efficiency, Qualcomm threw a curveball and went for a 1 + 2 + 2 + 3 architecture. Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 pairs the core core Cortex-X3 with a combination of two Cortex-A715 cores plus two Cortex-A710 cores and three Cortex-A510 cores.
The result should be better multi-core performance, especially in processing heavy tasks, but it remains to be seen how power consumption will be affected by this unconventional choice. In any case, Qualcomm reports up to a 35% increase in overall performance, while promising almost 40% better power efficiency.
|Snapdragon 8 Gen 2||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1+||MediaTek Dimensity 9200||Google Tensor G2|
|head(s) core||1x Cortex-X3 @ 3.2GHz||1x -Cortex-X2 @ 3.2GHz||1x Cortex-X3 at 3GHz||2x Cortex-X1 @ 2.85GHz|
|performance cores||2x Cortex-A715 @ 2.8GHz
2x Cortex-A710 @ 2.8GHz
|3x Cortex-A710 @ 2.8GHz||3x Cortex-A715 @ 2.85GHz||2x Cortex-A78 at 2.35GHz|
|Efficiency cores||3x Cortex-A510 at 2GHz||4x Cortex-A510 @ 2GHz||4x Cortex-A510 @ 1.8GHz||4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz|
4x 16-bit @ 4200MHz
4x 16-bit @ 3200MHz
4x 16-bit @ 4266MHz
4x 16-bit @ 3200MHz
ray tracing devices
Vulkan 1.1.0 update
|11x ARM Immortal-G715
ray tracing devices
|7x ARM Mali-G710
|Internet service provider||up to 200 megapixels
|up to 200 megapixels
|up to 320 megapixels
|Cellular modem||5G (sub-6GHz + mmWave)
|5G (sub-6GHz + mmWave)
|5G (sub-6GHz + mmWave)||5G (sub-6GHz + mmWave)
|Wireless connection||Wi-Fi 7
|manufacturing process||TSMC N4 (4 nm class)||Samsung (5nm class)|
It may be worth noting that the reported improvement in performance is significantly better than Qualcomm promised from the Snapdragon 888 (2020) to the 8 Gen 1 (2021), which was 20% and is often cut off in NextPit reviews due to many comments. Cases of thermal suffocation.
Shiny new graphics core
Another feature of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is the Adreno core — Qualcomm stopped naming the cores for quite some time, unfortunately — despite sharing the same name as last year’s core, the 8 Gen 2 packages update all over the place. It starts with support for Vulkan 1.3 (up from 1.1 in 8g1) and, most importantly, hardware ray tracing support.
The latter promises improved gaming supported by better lighting, shadows, reflections, and more, putting Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile phones on par with video game consoles and, more importantly, with the rival Dimensity 9200 and ARM Immortalis GPU.
Having RT support in mobile phones partially solves the chicken-and-egg problem of not having ray tracing games in mobile due to a lack of hardware support — currently only found in the European-spec Galaxy S22 and its RDNA2 GPU — but it remains to be seen if Gaming companies would have invested the time and manpower to add a new feature that only exists in a small number of flagship phones.
Qualcomm is perhaps more important than ray tracing support, promising up to 25% better graphic performance and up to 45% better power efficiency. The company also announced support for Unreal Engines’ Metahuman framework for real-life characters and a curious feature called “OLED aging compensation,” which supposedly tracks organic diodes and balances brightness and colors in an OLED panel.
Connectivity upgrades with Wi-Fi 7
Even the wireless division has had its share of new standards. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 includes a FastConnect 7800 core, which not only includes Bluetooth 5.3 in dual mode, it also adopts the yet-to-be-ratified Wi-Fi 7 standard – which is also found in a competing MediaTek SoC.
As usual with new Wi-Fi standards, you’ll need a compatible access point to enjoy “wire-like” latency. Qualcomm tried to differentiate the 8th generation from the 2nd generation by introducing High Band Simultaneous (HBS) technology, which not only allows a device to work with (you guessed it) two different connections to a single Access Point (AP) like how link aggregation works for cellular networks . This provides the option to connect to an access point and accessory, such as VR/AR/MR glasses, at the same time.
On the 5G side, Qualcomm touted the AI benefits introduced during MWC 2022 but highlighted two new features on the Snapdragon X70 5G modem: 4x carrier aggregation downlink to offer (theoretically) faster download speeds and an active dual-SIM mode for 5G, allowing two SIM cards to be connected at once. one over 5G and not having to drop one to 4G or 3G.
Smarter every day
Not only will cellular connectivity get smarter, but the entire Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 promises more intelligence all around. Starting with the revamped Hexagon NPU/DSP, the core block has been touted in such a way that it receives a dedicated power delivery system. It may sound simple at first glance, but it correlates well with the (temporary sounding) “always-on camera-sensing” system and other sensors that require non-stop processing. .
Qualcomm announced a two-fold performance gain in AI-related sensor tasks and a 4.35-fold jump in general AI processing, due in part to its new precision type INT4, which allows supporting applications to process twice as many models at the same time compared to the INT8 type. (still supported). Qualcomm has taken Google up a notch and promised the ability to translate real-time voice chats into more than one language.
One of the stated uses of the new feature is faster image processing – with the help of the new Spectra image signal processor (ISP) – allowing the camera to detect layer separation and apply blur effects faster than before. On the subject of ISPs, Spectra core has received a real-time segmentation filter, which can be paired with an object detection filter to apply custom filters to the scene.
In a demonstration by Qualcomm, it was able to detect items such as plants, foods, and animals, where the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 ISP processor can highlight different items in the scene depending on the type of user — foodies, plant owners, and of course, cats.
Speaking of image processing, the camera system is not only aware of the elements in a scene, it is now tuned to the latest imaging sensors both Sony and Samsung have released, including the Isocell HP line and 200MP sensors.
The Spectra ISP maintains theoretical support for up to 200MP photo capture and triple 36MP video capture at 30fps (single camera up to 108MP), the same as the previous generation. But it finally adds support for the AV1 codec to decode up to 8K at 60fps.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: Release date and availability
As usual for SoC launches, Qualcomm highlighted a chip with several smartphone brands’ logos (known and unknown) and briefly stated that the first smartphone powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 should be announced by the end of the year, without elaborating on any further details.
Looking at the past couple of years, we can make an educated guess and assume that it will be Xiaomi’s next flagship smartphone — perhaps codenamed “Xiaomi 13” if the company isn’t superstitious about it. The reason for this is the fact that Xiaomi has launched both Snapdragon 888 and 8 Gen 1 in Xiaomi Mi 11 and 12 lines respectively.
Despite mounting pressure from MediaTek since its return to the mainstream SoC arena, the Dimensity 9000 has seen a small number of design wins in the West, where it’s largely limited to smartphones for the Chinese market. So it remains to be seen if the new Dimensity 9200 will have an impact in the main market.
On the other hand, Qualcomm appears to be well positioned not only to supply a large number of its customers but also to get a bigger pie out of the Galaxy S line, as already mentioned here on NextPit, with hints that the Galaxy S23 line will ditch Exynos SoCs in favor of a global roll out. For phones with a Snapdragon processor.
After a somewhat disappointing eighth-generation launch and the small jump in performance — soured by several overheating issues — we’re cautiously optimistic about the new eighth-generation second generation. Greater focus than ever on AI capabilities, there are many signs to believe that 2023 will offer a much better SoC for the flagship market.