Two months after the launch of Apple’s A14 mobile processor, Qualcomm has launched the Snapdragon 888 chip at it’s Digital Tech Summit, which concluded on December 2. With the processor powering flagships from leading manufacturers like Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, and LG in 2021, we have a good idea of the various new features present in them.
The new SD888 chip is based on Samsung’s new 5nm manufacturing process, which we also expect the upcoming Samsung Exynos 1080 to be based on. The chip’s main competitors, such as the Apple A14 Bionic, Mediatek Helio, and Kirin 9000, unlike the 888, are based on TSMC’s 5nm process node.
Qualcomm’s reliance on the Samsung process might have just cost them performance as industry analysts report that TSMC’s 5nm process is more denser and cheaper to produce than Samsung’s. This could be disadvantageous to Qualcomm since the chip’s improvements from the new architecture could be thwarted by the two nodes’ differences giving competitors an edge.
Qualcomm also made bold claims about the new chipset’s capabilities in 5G connectivity, photography, gaming performance, and AI during the event, more on which we will cover in another article taking a closer look into the Snapdragon 888. Xiaomi and Realme have already revealed their lineup of smartphones that will feature the new chipset.
The Kryo 680 CPU gains a 25% improvement in performance and efficiency over the last generation. Featuring the same core setup as its predecessor, SD888 is powered by the new Cortex X1 prime core at 2.84 GHz, 3 “performance” Cortex-A78 cores at 2.4 GHz, and 4 ‘efficiency” Cortex-A55 at 1.8 GHz.
The integration of the new X60 Modem into the SoC results in lower latencies and improves the chip’s power efficiency. Qualcomm did push their 5G advancements excessively in the keynote, raising some questions on the new chip’s performance, especially with the new X60 integrated modem being identical to the previous-gen X55, save for 6GHz support.
In any case, Qualcomm’s advancements in the 5G capabilities of smartphones will push ISPs to improve the 5G service worldwide, making the technology widespread.
Qualcomm’s new Spectra 580 allows three individual camera modules to run simultaneously, improving image processing by up to 35%. With this, smartphones with a 200MP sensor with no Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL), three – 28MP sensors with ZSL or one 64MP sensor + one 25MP Sensor with ZSL, or one 84MP Sensor with ZSL will be supported by the processor.
This configuration also allows the sensors to be able to record simultaneous triple-stream 4K video. A triple ISP setup could very well lead to the introduction of 360⁰ cameras to Smartphones.
With High FPS panels becoming very popular with mobile phones nowadays, the new Qualcomm Adreno 660’s will provide 35% higher frames while being 20% more power-efficient than SD865. With this performance leap, it is more than likely that the SD888 retains the gaming performance crown due to Apple’s incremental improvement in GPU performance from its A13 chip in the A14 Bionic.
The SD888’s architectural redesign and improved SoC integration give it an industry-leading 26 TOPs of AI compute over the previous SD865’s 15 TOPs. The redesign of the Hexagon 780 DSP also boasts of an improvement of up to 3x better performance per watt, 2x Tensor compute capacity, 50% higher Scalar performance for AI Engine applications.