At the annual Snapdragon Tech Summit this week Qualcomm announced a new generation of chips under its Snapdragon branding. The showstopper was Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that is essentially an incremental update to last year’s Snapdragon 888 and is meant for next-generation flagship Android phones coming later this year and next year. The San Diego-based company, however, also brought the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 as two of its new system-on-chip (SoC) models for Windows laptops and Chromebooks, and the Snapdragon G3x as its chip designed for handheld gaming devices.
The big launch for phones at this year’s Snapdragon Tech Summit was the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC. The chip doesn’t have massive upgrades over the Snapdragon 888 that was launched last year. However, it does have some incremental changes that are claimed to help deliver better processing, faster artificial intelligence (AI) performance, and an upgraded graphics rendering.
The one big change that comes with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the new branding that moves away from the existing number series. This was obvious as Qualcomm was running out of numbers — thanks to the launch of various Snapdragon number-series models in the recent past. Qualcomm also seems to now be promoting Snapdragon as a distinct brand by using the new nomenclature.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is also claimed to have some compelling features including an 18-bit image signal processor (ISP) that enables capturing of 8K HDR videos. There is also a new always-on ISP that Qualcomm says will help enable always-on face unlocking, and lock the device when you are not looking at the screen. This particular update may raise some privacy concerns though.
Qualcomm has also developed an on-device AI technology in partnership with health-tech company Sonde Health that is claimed to analyse users’ vocal patterns to determine whether they are at risk of health conditions including asthma, depression, and COVID-19.
The features that come with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 may help Qualcomm retain its strong presence in the smartphone market in 2022 and make it an active competitor against Taiwan’s MediaTek that also has its Dimensity range of 5G chips.
Alongside the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 as its new chip for premium Windows laptops and Chromebooks. It comes as the successor to the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 and is built using the 5nm process technology. The chip claims to offer faster performance over competitive x86 platforms. The company also brought the Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 chip for affordable laptops and Chromebooks, along with 5G connectivity support.
Both Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Snapdragon 7c+ Gen 3 appear to be Qualcomm’s answer to Intel and AMD — the traditional chipmakers in the market of laptops. However, Qualcomm rival MediaTek is also exploring to gain both revenues and popularity in the laptop market with its own chips.
And as a foray into a new market, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon G3x Gen 1 as its first chip for handheld gaming devices. This could be embraced by manufacturers looking to develop dedicated hardware for mobile gamers. Companies including Asus, Black Shark, and Nubia in the past tried to please that audience with their gaming phones. But Qualcomm seems to have taken a different approach this time.
Qualcomm showcased a handheld gaming device concept in collaboration with Razer that it is giving to developers to build games for its new move. We are, though, yet to see how big the chipmaker and partners like Razer could do to make a shift in the gaming industry with their ongoing efforts.
We discuss all this and more in this episode of Orbital. You can catch it by hitting the play button on the Spotify player embedded above.
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