Snapdragon 888-soc has integrated 5G modem and is made on 5nm process

Qualcomm has revealed the full specifications of its Snapdragon 888-soc. The chip will include an integrated 5G modem and is made using Samsung’s 5nm process. The manufacturer announced the Snapdragon 888 earlier this week, but shared few technical details at the time.

The Snapdragon 888 chip has a Kryo 680 CPU with eight cores, including one powerful core, four energy-efficient cores and three more average cores. The most powerful core is the Cortex-X1, which was already announced in May. This core runs in the soc at a clock speed of 2.84GHz. For the three ‘average’ cores, the Cortex-A78 is used at 2.4GHz, while the Cortex-A55 is used four times as energy-efficient cores, each clocked at 1.8GHz.

The manufacturer claims that the performance of its new Kryo CPU is up to 25 percent higher than that of its predecessor from the Snapdragon 865. The performance per watt would have increased by the same percentage. The soc supports both Lpddr4x-2133 and Lpddr5-3200 memory.

Snapdragon 888 versus Snapdragon 865
Chip Snapdragon 888 Snapdragon 865
CPU cores 1x Cortex-X1, 2.84GHz
3x Cortex-A78, 2.42GHz
4x Cortex-A55, 1.80GHz
1x Cortex-A77, 2.84GHz
3x Cortex-A77, 2.42GHz
4x Cortex-A55, 1.8GHz
Process Samsung 5nm TSMC 7nm
GPU Adreno 660 Adreno 650
Dsp Hexagon 780
Max. 26 TOPS for AI calculations
Hexagon 698
Max. 15 TOPS for AI calculations
Memory Lpddr4x-2133 or Lpddr5-3200 Lpddr4x-2133 or Lpddr5-2750
Is P 3x Spectra 580 2x Spectra 480
Modem Integrated: X60 with 5G NR support

Integrated: none

Paired with external X55 modem with 5G

Qualcomm goes into less detail on the GPU from the Snapdragon 888. The company does report that this Adreno 660 chip must perform about 35 percent better than its predecessor. Also, the Adreno 660 would be about 20 percent more efficient. However, the power consumption of the new GPU is not mentioned.

Furthermore, the new GPU will receive support for variable rate shading. This allows the GPU, as the name suggests, to apply shading variably to any part of the screen. For example, rougher shading can be applied to certain parts of the screen, for example on less detailed objects. This should increase the rendering speed, while the perceived quality should remain virtually the same.

This principle is already applied in desktop GPUs; Nvidia has supported the feature since its GeForce RTX 2000 series, while AMD has added such vrs support to its Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards. Next-gen consoles also support variable rate shading.

The manufacturer already discussed its new Hexagon 780 processor yesterday, the dsp used for AI applications. This new chip will feature Scalar, Tensor, and Vector accelerators, which Qualcomm says have been merged and work together as one unit. According to the manufacturer, the Hexagon dsp would also have sixteen times more memory at its disposal, compared to the dsp in the previous Snapdragon 865 chips. The performance per watt of the Hexagon 780 is said to be three times that of its predecessor.

Qualcomm also provides the soc with Spectra 580 image signal processors. The soc has a total of three separate ISPs, so that 4k videos with HDR can be recorded on three camera sensors at the same time. Photos can also be captured on three sensors at the same time. For example, a phone with Snapdragon 888 can simultaneously take a photo on the primary camera sensor, the telephoto camera, and the camera sensor with wide-angle lens. Three 28-megapixel cameras are supported for this. All in all, the isp can process up to 2.7 gigapixels per second.

The isp can also record 4k videos with HDR10, HDR10 +, hybrid log gamma, and Dolby Vision. The chip also supports video recording with an 8k resolution. Slow motion videos can be recorded at up to 960fps at a resolution of 1280×720 pixels. The maximum frame rate for 4k videos is 120fps. The ISP can also process a maximum of 120 photos of 12 megapixels per second, the manufacturer already reported yesterday.

The Snapdragon 888 will also be equipped with an integrated X60 modem, where its predecessors had an external X55 modem. It supports 5G on mmwave and sub-6GHz frequencies. The new chip will also receive support for Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. Wi-Fi 6E was also already supported on the Snapdragon 865+, although at the time of writing there are no smartphones that use it yet.

Qualcomm also discusses the security functions of its Snapdragon 888. For example, the chip offers support for ‘Hypervisor’, with which the various instances of an operating system can be run. For example, users can distribute their personal and work apps among different isolated OS instances. Users can also optionally use their own isolated operating system for each app.

The first smartphones with a Snapdragon 888-soc are expected in the course of 2021. OnePlus, Oppo, Meizu, Xiaomi and ASUS, in addition to some lesser-known manufacturers, will release phones with this chip, according to Qualcomm.

The Snapdragon 888 presentation at the Snapdragon Tech Summit Digital 2020