Qualcomm launches Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 mobile platform with AI, camera, security boost

Qualcomm's new 5G flagship platform boasts high speeds and strong camera capabilities.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

KONA, HAWAII: Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform featuring improved camera capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) applications, and security enhancements. 

During the annual Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit, on Tuesday, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said the "demand for mobile technology is very high across almost every industry."

"We as a company believe in the mission that we will have everyone and everything intelligently connected -- and Snapdragon will play an important role," Amon added.

To pursue this mission, the latest Snapdragon platform focuses on performance, speed, and connectivity -- with 5G now becoming a given in the range. 

The Snapdragon 8 is a 5G-enabled platform for Android devices. Containing the FastConnect 6900, the system on a chip (SoC) platform supports Wi-Fi speeds over 6/6E of up to 3.6Gbps, and a new, integrated modem -- the 4th-generation Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF -- is said to be capable of up to 10GB download speeds. 

Building upon the Snapdragon 888+ platform, Qualcomm has also integrated the Qualcomm Adreno GPU and Qualcomm Kryo CPU (up to 3.0 GHz). 

Camera performance and artificial intelligence (AI) integrations feature heavily in the latest product in Qualcomm's Snapdragon lineup. The tech giant says the new platform "takes smartphone photography beyond pro," and whilst a bold claim in itself, Qualcomm has introduced a bundle of new camera features -- under the name Snapdragon Sight -- including the Snapdragon Spectra 18-bit Image Signal Processor (ISPs) to back it up.

According to the firm, three ISPs can be used to capture photos and videos from three separate cameras at the same time, and users can expect speeds of up to 3.2 gigapixels per second when capturing content. 

In total, Qualcomm says that Sight is able to capture 4000x more camera data than previous platforms. A fourth, separate ISP has also been included, the "Always-On" ISP, for cameras to be able to run at low power levels. 

The specifications for camera applications are below:

  • Up to 3.2 gigapixels per second computer vision ISP 
  • Up to 36 MP triple camera @ 30 FPS 
  • Up to 64+36 MP dual camera @ 30 FPS
  • Up to 108 MP single camera @ 30 FPS

8K HDR video capture is included.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, the tech giant has included the Qualcomm Hexagon processor -- featuring a faster tensor accelerator and larger shared memory pool -- alongside the 7th-gen Qualcomm AI Engine. 


Security, too, has received an update with the introduction of Snapdragon 8. The platform features the 3D Sonic Sensor/3D Sonic Max fingerprint sensors alongside a new Trust Management engine to improve the security of process requests at the hardware level, as well as an additional Root of Trust (RoT) to hold the cryptographic keys required for both apps and services. 

The Android Ready SE standard, developed by an alliance made up of Google and Secure Element (SE) vendors to design secure sets of applets across the Android ecosystem, also features in Snapdragon 8. Android Ready SE technology can be used for securing sensitive data including digital car keys, identity credentials, and digital wallets. 

The Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit has also been refreshed to support iSIM, an integrated SIM card for connecting securely to cellular services without a SIM card in hand. 

Snapdragon 8 users can also expect a boost in the audio department. Bluetooth 5.2, Snapdragon Sound, the Aqstic codec, and Qualcomm aptXTM lossless technology are all included, and the platform now supports Bluetooth LE audio features including broadcast audio and stereo recording.

Mobile gaming, through Snapdragon Elite, has been updated to improve rendering and frame loading without increasing power demand. According to Qualcomm, the revised Adreno GPU provides a 30% graphics rendering boost and 25% reduction in power consumption in comparison to the Snapdragon 888. 

Charging is managed through the Qualcomm Quick Charge 5 system. 

"The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 sets the standard for the next generation of flagship mobile devices," commented Alex Katouzian, senior vice president of mobile, compute, and infrastructure at Qualcomm. "It delivers connectivity, photography, AI, gaming, sound, and security experiences never before available in a smartphone."

Commercial device adoption is expected by the end of this year. OEMs adopting the platform include Motorola, Honor, OPPO, Sony, Xiaomi, and OnePlus. 

Disclosure: Qualcomm sponsored attendance at the Snapdragon Tech Summit.

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