Qualcomm details its new premium Snapdragon 888 chipset

As Qualcomm normally does on the first day of its Snapdragon Technology Summit, it announced the Snapdragon 888 yesterday. Today is day two, and that means that it's time for the deeper dive on new features.

Once again, the CPU is octa-core, but it's a new architecture. The prime Kryo 680 core is 2.84GHz, and it's based on the new Cortex-X1. The three secondary big cores are Cortex-A78 and clocked at 2.4GHz. Finally, the four small cores are 1.8GHz and Cortex-A55. Qualcomm is promising 25% better performance and 25% better efficiency from the new CPU, although keep in mind that those numbers don't apply to the whole chipset.

Next up is the Adreno 660 GPU. Qualcomm says that it will deliver 35% faster graphics rendering, and it's 20% more power efficient. The company doesn't disclose clock speeds on anything except for the CPU. There are also display enhancements included though, including OLED display uniformity and sub-pixel rendering.

A big thing that Qualcomm is pushing in the Snapdragon 888 is the sixth-generation Qualcomm AI Engine, which includes the new Hexagon 780 processor. The Hexagon 780 has 16 times the dedicated memory, fused AI accelerators, and it promises three times the performance-per-watt. The AI Engine is capable of 26 TOPS, combined with the second-generation Sensing Hub. The Sensing Hub actually has its own dedicated AI processor.

Next up is the Spectra 580 ISP, and for the first time, it's a triple ISP, with support for staggered HDR sensors. It can capture 2.7 gigapixels per second, making it 35% faster than its predecessor. Thanks to the triple ISP, it can capture up to three 28MP images at the same time. And with the Snapdragon 888, you'll be able to capture 10-bit HEIF photos, in over a billion shades of color.

And then, of course, there's the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System, offering downlink speeds of up to 7.5Gbps and uplink speeds of up to 3Gbps. It supports sub6 and third-generation mmWave, but a major improvement is that this time, it's finally integrated into the chipset. With the Snapdragon 865, OEMs had to buy the 5G modem separately, increasing costs and decreasing efficiency.

Just as you'd expect, you'll start seeing devices with the Snapdragon 888 hit the market in the first quarter of 2021.

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