Everything about Qualcomm’s New flagship Snapdragon 888 Chip
The new Snapdragon 888, will power Android Flagships of 2021.
Qualcomm has been a leader in Android phone processors for quite some time. So it is obvious that the expectations from the Snapdragon 888, its latest flagship chip, are high. This top-tier SoC (system-on-chip), which was unveiled at the company’s Snapdragon Tech Summit 2020 on December 1, will power smartphones of 2021. This chip will be replacing the Snapdragon 865 and the mid-cycle refresh Snapdragon 865+. It also has a new 6 GHz capacity with Wi-Fi 6E with its FastConnect 6900 Mobile Connectivity System.
The reason Qualcomm stated for renaming this chip as ‘888’ instead of hitherto expected ‘875’ is that the company always used ‘8’ to distinguish its premium tier chipsets. Therefore the 888 is simply as premium as it gets. Besides, eight is considered a lucky number in China, which is Qualcomm’s prime market.
Snapdragon 888 has a 5nm architecture for better power efficiency and improvements for 5G carrier aggregation across the mmWave and sub-6GHz bands of the spectrum. This is the first time Qualcomm has integrated its 5G modem (3rd generation Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X60 5G Modem-RF System) on this chip. The X60, unveiled in February, can download data at up to 7.5 Gbps and upload information as fast as 3 Gbps. It allows for discontinuous 5G carrier aggregation, letting wireless operators combine 5G channels in different bands, along with 4G channels, things which were not possible in X55. The X60 also supports voice phone calling over 5G (5G Voice over NR).
Apart from these, its dynamic spectrum sharing technology will empower Snapdragon 888 to support all major networks globally. Snapdragon 888 also supports Global 5G multi-SIM, which enables international roaming and two numbers on the same phone.
It features the latest-generation Qualcomm Kryo 680 CPU, where its single X1 ‘prime core’ clocked at up to 2.84GHz, along with three medium Cortex-A78 performance cores at 2.4GHz, and four Cortex-A55 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz. Snapdragon 888 is the first CPU to use ARM’s Cortex-X1 technology. ARM claims the design drop from 7nm to 5nm results in 20% better “sustained performance” in the same thermal envelope as a 7nm Cortex A76. The Kryo 680 CPU is 25% power powerful and 25% more battery efficient than its predecessor.
Next, its new Adreno 660 GPU boasts up to 35% faster graphics rendering than the previous model, which Qualcomm calls its “biggest performance leap yet,” while still delivering 20% better power efficiency. Additionally, its 6th-gen AI Engine – powered by a new Hexagon 780 processor – delivers 26 TOPS (tera operations per second), a massive leap on the 865’s 15 TOPS. Much to the excitement of gamers, Snapdragon 888 SoC comes with a third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming mobile engine that includes updatable GPU drivers, desktop forward rendering, and frame rates reaching up to 144 frames per second. The Elite Gaming package primarily offers technologies like Game Quick Touch (to reduce touch latency and improve responsiveness) and Variable Rate Shading (VRS), allowing users to render colors at different levels of detail for different parts of a given scene. Although the latter has already been used for PC games, Qualcomm says if used smartly, it can result in up to 40% more efficient rendering without any visible loss of detail for gamers.
As per the benchmark performance, the 888 has a 28% higher score on the overall Antutu benchmark than the existing 865+, according to PCMag.
Snapdragon 888 also has upgraded Spectra 580 with three image signaling processors (ISPs). These three ISPs enables triple camera concurrency and parallel processing. This means smartphones with the Snapdragon 888 will be able to capture three 28-megapixel images and three streams of 4K HDR video simultaneously at 120 frames per second. As a result, users can, for instance, get three video feeds from the rear ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto lenses, or video recording from two rear cameras and one front-facing camera all at the same time.
Spectra 580 can capture 2.7 gigapixels per second, which is a 35% improvement year-on-year, compared to the previous generation ISP available on the Snapdragon 865 SoC. Qualcomm has enhanced its burst capture technology on the Snapdragon 888, with handsets packing the chip given the ability to capture up to 120 photos in one second, all at 12MP, thus allowing to shoot action and sports. Another interesting add-on is, this chip will allow photographers to click photos with 10-bit HDR color depth in HEIF format — a feature that only available on iPhone till now.
During the keynote, to demonstrate the power of Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm showed two radio-controlled (RC) race cars connected entirely using a 5G mmWave network. These cars were connected to a private 5G network that was built with the help of Verizon and Ericsson and controlled from over a mile away using a Snapdragon 888 reference design. This design included the Qualcomm Location Suite to highlight improved accuracy through the latest development.
What does it mean for New Phones?
Many Android phone makers have already made plans to incorporate Snapdragon 888 in their next launch. Xiaomi’s all-new Mi 11 handset is confirmed to pack the new Snapdragon chipset at launch. Meanwhile, OPPO says its Find X series will arrive with the 888 tucked when it’s released during the early part of 2020. Qualcomm announced that other Chinese vendors – including One Plus, Meizu, Nubia, Vivo, and ZTE are also supportive of this chipset. It is rumored that LG’s G9 ThinQ and OnePlus 9 Pro may likely sport the Snapdragon 888 chip. At the same time, Realme has teased a new flagship codenamed the Realme Race that will use the 888.