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Qualcomm launches Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform, its 2021 flagship chipset

By Liu Hongzuo - on 6 Dec 2020, 11:57am

Qualcomm launches Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform, its 2021 flagship chipset

Note: This article was first published on 2 Dec 2020.

Qualcomm's Tech Summit Digital 2020 starts today (1 December 2020). This annual summit is where Qualcomm usually announces its upcoming flagship processor for the following year's smartphones, with this year's format being fully digital instead of physical like previous years.

The summit saw the announcement of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform, its 2021 flagship-tier smartphone chipset. Like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 that precedes it, this mobile platform contains all of the core processing parts, including its CPU for computing, GPU for graphics, ISP for smartphone cameras, and more.

For starters, Snapdragon 888 includes the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System on-board, which is unlike the Snapdragon 865 that required a Sanpdragon X50 5G modem separately. Part of the reason why this integration is possible is because the new Snapdragon 888 is based off a 5nm lithography process which is a jump over the 7nm process of the last two generations. With the integrated X60 5G modem, Qualcomm has effectively made all Snapdragon 888-based devices a 5G smartphone and it is now compatible with all mmWave 5G and sub-6 5G networks, globally. For reference, Singapore's current 5G networks as of writing reside on sub-6 frequencies, which is 5G waves within and below 6GHz.

The new chipset also offers Qualcomm's 6th-generation AI Engine and a revamped Qualcomm Hexagon processor, which pushes out performance up to 26 tera-operations per second (TOPS). For comparison, Snapdragon 865 offered 15 TOPS via its AI Engine. The AI Engine in the chip is essential for Artificial Intelligence-related calculations and performance, and a second-generation Sensing Hub further reinforces it for low-power, always-on AI processing.

In the imaging department comes a gigapixel-speed Qualcomm Spectra ISP capable of computational photography. The image signal processor is capable of capturing photos and videos at 2.7 gigapixels per second, or 120 photos at 12MP per second - which is 35% faster than the previous generation ISP.

For graphics, the Snapdragon 888 packs Qualcomm's "most significant upgrade in Adreno GPU performance", with more details to surface likely on the second day of the summit (or later). What we do know is the graphics will come with Updateable GPU Drivers seen on the SD865, with maximum frame rates of 144 FPS on the Snapdragon 888. It's also further optimised with Qualcomm's third-generation Snapdragon Elite Gaming features.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, front (left) and back (right).

According to Qualcomm, the enhanced performance across the board is meant to address several growth segments that directly benefit from mobile technology, such as Always On devices, Always Connected gadgets, Extended Reality (XR) products, Edge/Cloud computing AI, 5G Fixed Wireless Broadband, and more.

During the introductory keynote, Qualcomm is particularly excited at how Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) and network slicing offer significant connectivity benefits, such as dedicated streams of uninterrupted, high speed, low latency connectivity to crucial services. It also featured an all-star cast, with representatives from NTT DOCOMO, Sony Xperia, OnePlus, Epic Games, Xiaomi, and many others sharing about the direct impact of Qualcomm's advancements in their products.

We will update with more information when we get the opportunity to dive deeper into the Snapdragon 888's core components.

Source: Qualcomm

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