Qualcomm launches Snapdragon 888: Everything you need to know

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 brings AI advances, enables more computational photography and CPU and GPU horsepower on 5nm process technology. The platform will appear in smartphones during the first quarter of 2021.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Qualcomm launched its latest Snapdragon 888 5G platform with advances on connectivity, camera technology and artificial intelligence. Snapdragon 888 will be coming to premium smartphones in 2021.

The company typically launches its latest Snapdragon mobile technologies at its annual technology summit.

Also: Arm processors: Everything you need to know

Ziad Ashar, vice president of product management at Qualcomm, said the Snapdragon 888 is aimed at "always on" use cases with shared memory to move data with better performance per watt.

The Snapdragon 888 has a revamped architecture using 5nm process technology. Qualcomm said its Kryo 680 processor boosts overall CPU performance by up to 25% with top frequencies of 2.84GHz. 

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Ashar added that Snapdragon 888 sets the stage for sensing that is always on for events like car crashes as well as better performance for digital assistants.

Here's what you need to know about Snapdragon 888.

5G and connectivity advances. The 3rd generation Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System is integrated into Snapdragon 888. There's support for 5G sub-6 carrier aggregation and mmWave for speeds up to 7.5 Gbps.

Dynamic Spectrum Sharing technology will enable 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.

Camera processing improvements up the premium ante. Snapdragon 888 includes Qualcomm's first Triple Image Signal Processor (ISP) to capture data from three cameras at the same time at rates of 2.7 gigapixels per second. The platform, Qualcomm Spectra 580 ISP, enables customers to use 120fps burst snapshots and capture three 4K HDR videos at the same time.

Qualcomm Spectra 580 ISP also has a new low light architecture for brighter photos and 10-bit color depth. Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 will be critical to premium smartphone makers looking to maintain pricing amid an onslaught of mid-range 5G devices. Qualcomm is also aiming to make computational photography more mainstream. The catch is that it's up to smartphone makers to tune the hardware to make cameras a competitive advantage.

Cameras with the Snapdragon 888 can support up to 200 megapixel photo capture, up to 28 MP triple camera,


Snapdragon 888 supports the fastest Wi-Fi 6 speeds and new 6 GHz capacity with Wi-Fi 6E with its FastConnect 6900 Mobile Connectivity System.

AI advances due to a new engine and architecture. The platform has a redesigned Qualcomm AI Engine with the Qualcomm Hexagon 780 processor. The AI Engine enhances photography, personal voice assistants, gaming and connectivity. There's a 3x performance per watt improvement over the previous generation Snapdragon.

Qualcomm Sensing Hub sets up an always-on approach. The 2nd generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub utilizes a dedicated low-power AI processor for awaking a screen and leveraging contextual awareness.


The Snapdragon 888 is the first commercial CPU system based on the Arm Cortex-X.

Qualcomm's Adreno 660 GPU delivers 35% faster graphics rendering compared to the previous generation.

Security enhancements include a Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit, Qualcomm Trusted Execution Environment and support for Qualcomm's Wireless Edge Services. The tools go along with a new hypervisor to keep data private and isolate it between apps and operating systems in one device. 

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