Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon 8 Gen 1: Flagship SoC for 2022 Devicesby Andrei Frumusanu on November 30, 2021 6:00 PM EST
Conclusion & First Impressions
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is an interesting part, as it represents a fresh start for the series both in a marketing sense, and in a lesser technical sense as well. As a successor to the Snapdragon 888, the new chip completely revamps the CPU setup to new Armv9 architectures while also bringing a very large GPU improvement, massive new camera features, and a host of other new features.
Qualcomm’s decision to streamline the naming is in my opinion not that necessary. But after the transition from the Snapdragon 865 to the 888, things had arguably already kind of jumped the shark last year, so it’s not completely unexpected. What I really don't like is Qualcomm taking a note out of Apple’s PR strategies and really diminishing the amount of technical detail disclosed, dropping even things such as the IP block generational numbering on the part of the GPU, NPU/DSP or ISP. This kind of opaqueness works for a lifestyle product company, but isn’t a great marketing strategy or look for a technology company that is supposed to pride itself on the tech it develops. Whatever the marketing aspect and shift from Qualcomm, what does matter for most of our readers is the technical side of things.
Technically, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a larger upgrade in a lot of aspects. While Qualcomm isn’t quite as aggressive as what we saw from recent competitor announcements, the chip boasts a very strong showing on the part of the CPU configuration, featuring a new Cortex-X2 core at up to 3GHz, new Cortex-A710’s middle cores at 2.5GHz, and as well as the new A510 little cores. The performance metrics, at least on the part of the X2, look to be extremely solid, and while power efficiency is still something we’ll have to investigate in more detail in the next few weeks, is also seemingly in line, or better, than the expectations.
The new Adreno GPU really didn’t get the attention it deserved, in my opinion, as things are quite more complex than just what the presentations showcased. While we still don’t expect Qualcomm to be able to catch up with Apple or be as efficient as the upcoming MediaTek part due to lingering concerns on whether the Samsung 4nm process node is able to close the gap with the TSMC competition, the new architecture changes are significant, and we should see major improvements in performance and efficiency compared to the Snapdragon 888.
Finally, the biggest changes this generation were presented on the part of the camera and ISP system. Smartphone cameras over the last few years have seen tremendous progress in terms of capability and image quality, and rather than slowing down (in contrast to other aspects of a SoC), here it seems technology progress is still full steam ahead or even accelerating. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 ISP now features fixed function blocks for a lot of the typical “computational photography” techniques we’ve seen pioneered from the last few years, and I think this will enable for far greater camera implementations for many more vendors in 2022 flagship devices. So, while the rest of the SoC can be seen as a % gain in performance or efficiency, the new camera features are expected to really bring new innovation and experiences.
Overall, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 looks to be a very solid successor to the Snapdragon 888. And that’s what’s most important for Qualcomm: executing on developing and delivering a chip that the vast majority of vendors can rely on to implement into their devices. While the competition is diversifying and stepping up their game, it’s also going to be extremely hard to match or even surpass Qualcomm’s execution the market, and the 8 Gen 1 is unlikely to disappoint.
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vladx - Thursday, December 2, 2021 - linkHardware supporting VVC hardware decode has already been announced while AV2 is still hasn't even been drafted:
Just because you're ignorant about the current situation, doesn't mean everyone else is as well. At this rate, consumer hardware supporting encode will be released for VVC before AV1 let alone AV2.
vlad42 - Thursday, December 2, 2021 - linkAnd yet there has been no coverage. So right now, consumers are far more likely to know about AV1 and demand it than an unheard of VVC.
Also, do you really think any company wants to pay VVC's license fees? The problems with licensing and royalties for HEVC is why it has taken so long for it to gain any adoption whatsoever. As of right now, there are at least two different groups selling the licenses needed for the patents - this is the same situation that caused HEVC to take 5 years before it was used by anyone in volume - remember HECV was released in 2013. H.264 had only one group you needed to by a license from and the total cost of the license was lower than HEVC's. The whole point of AV1 is that it is royalty free and does not have these problems.
As for you link, there is no indication of the setting used by AV1 or VVC. However, from what is known about AV1 it is clear they used it in fixed QP mode instead of VBR mode. It is well known that AV1 is optimized for VBR and that fixed QP is inefficient (it looses out to HEVC in all but UHD). However, with VBR it out performs HEVC in terms of bit rate savings by 20% at UHD. We would need proper thorough tests to be conducted to know if VVC's fees and performance costs would be worth it compared to AV1 (not to mention that AV1 could be further improved much like HEVC was during it's lifetime and VVC undoubtedly will be).
Just because you're ignorant about the current situation, doesn't mean everyone else is as well. Hardware AV1 encoders were announced back in 2019.
On 18 April 2019, Allegro DVT announced the AL-E210 with hardware AV1 encoding support for main 0 at 4K30 at 10-bit. In addition the Allegro AL-E195 has hardware AV1 encoding support for main 0 and professional 1 and Chips&Media's WAVE627 has hardware AV1 encoding support for main 0 at up to 4K120.
Just because your going to act like a know-it-all jackass does not mean you actually know anything at all.
vladx - Thursday, December 2, 2021 - link"Also, do you really think any company wants to pay VVC's license fees?"
Umm yes? The cost savings from lower bandwidth usage provided by VVC's superior compression beats any royalties. No one besides Google and cheapskates like Mozilla minds paying royalties for the best codec around.
vlad42 - Friday, December 3, 2021 - linkIf this were the case, then there would have been rapid adoption of HEVC across the board - especially among the likes of Twitch, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. Instead we find that Twitch relies solely upon h.264, YouTube re-encodes as much as possible (everything?) to VP9 and h.254, and Netfix and Amazon Prime use h.264 for everything except UHD, etc.
The licensing/royalty fiasco for HEVC is the largest reason why HEVC adoption has be pathetic compared to h.264. So yes, if VVC's licensing fees are anything like HEVC's, then these companies will not care about superior compression, AV1 with VBR will be good enough. It is not just Google and "cheapskates" like Mozilla.
vlad42 - Friday, December 3, 2021 - linkDamn lack of an edit button...that should be VP9 and h.264 not h.254
vladx - Friday, December 3, 2021 - linkBoth Netflix and Amazon Prime have been using HEVC for ages, Twitch uses H.264 because they want as many streamers as possible and there are still plenty with pre-2015 PCs who try their hand at streaming on their shitty computers.
vlad42 - Monday, December 6, 2021 - linkAnd as I said only for 4K content. If it was really worthwhile, they would use it for everything. However they do not.
Also, if Twitch wants to maximize their user base, then why go straight to AV1 and not go to HEVC? Surely more viewers have hardware decode/encode support for HEVC than AV1? The only logical explanation is that their are licensing problems/the fees are too high.
mode_13h - Saturday, December 4, 2021 - link> Instead we find that Twitch relies solely upon h.264
It seems to me that Twitch would use whatever is the lowest common denominator of its users, both in terms of their decoding & encoding capabilities. And when encoding, not only the capability matters but also how much overhead it adds, which could potentially impact gameplay.
vlad42 - Monday, December 6, 2021 - linkIf Twitch wants to maximize their user base, then why go straight to AV1 and not go to HEVC? Surely more viewers have hardware decode/encode support for HEVC than AV1? The only logical explanation is that their are licensing problems/the fees are too high.
name99 - Thursday, December 2, 2021 - linkIn what sense are these IP blocks "consumer hardware"?
I'd say a reasonable proxy for consumer hardware is "is present in some phones". Can that be said for AV1?
You can compare the uptake for AV1 with HEVC. I'd say there's a notable difference...
Especially important is HW encoders. Decoders are easy, but you need encoders in phones to get a real change in usage.