The next-gen chip that will power the most powerful Android chips for the next year has been announced. Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset at its annual Tech Summit press event in Hawaii, with an emphasis on AI performance and an increase in general processing power that should make devices like the Samsung Galaxy S24 series that extra bit more powerful.
Qualcomm flew me out to its Tech Summit in Hawaii to learn everything there is to know about the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3.
AI is the big theme this year, unsurprisingly. On top of the consumer launches of generative AI models like ChatGPT 4.0, the likes of Google are placing a heavy emphasis on AI for devices like the new Pixel 8 and 8 Pro — and it makes sense that Qualcomm would want to show up to compete.
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, according to Qualcomm, was designed specifically to be able to handle the demands of next-generation AI digital assistants, as they start to roll out over the next few years. These include processing for things like AI-based image generation models, language models, and more. The company says that large language models can run an impressive 20 tokens per second on the chip. It also noted that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 offers up to 98% faster Hexagon NPU performance, and up to 40% better performance per watt.
Nuts and bolts
The focus on AI performance doesn’t mean that Qualcomm has forgotten about basic performance too. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, according to Qualcomm, has 30% better CPU performance compared to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, along with 20% better power efficiency — so it can perform better while using less power. In terms of GPU performance, Qualcomm says the chip will perform 25% better, with 25% better power efficiency.
In a phone, all of this should add up to a device that can handle everything you can throw at it in 2023 and 2024 — and beyond that.
Camera performance has been a hot topic for years now, and Qualcomm has long emphasized image processing on its chip, dating back to when the Pixel series still used the Snapdragon platform.
Qualcomm hails the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 as being able to power the “smartest AI-powered camera in your pocket,” and indeed, depending on whether or not phone manufacturers truly take advantage of the chip, that may well be true. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 can capture up to 12 layers of a shot for better detail and vibrancy — particularly helpful in a world where most high-end smartphone cameras capture better images by blending multiple different frames together. Additionally, the chip can power the new Video Object Eraser by Arcsoft, two always-sensing cameras on the front and back for things like QR codes.
Qualcomm is also showing off a new Zoom Anyplace tech, which is powered by a new Samsung 200-megapixel camera sensor, and allows users to capture multiple videos, track objects, and zoom to 2x and 4x, while remaining in 4K capture mode.
Qualcomm has always had a focus on connectivity, and while the hype cycle around 5G has died down, Qualcomm is still working on newer, better cellular and Wi-Fi antennas. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 offers Qualcomm’s latest-generation X75 modem, which supports all the latest mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G bands. It also has Qualcomm’s FastConnect 7800 Wi-Fi system, which supports Wi-Fi 7 at peak speeds of an impressive 5.8 Gbps.
Other aspects of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 help ensure that the chip will perform better than previous-generation chips. Qualcomm notes that the chip offers its latest-generation Elite Gaming features, including hardware-accelerated ray-tracing and support for 240fps on 240Hz displays — though of course there aren’t many phones that support a refresh rate that high. And, you’ll get support for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound tech — which supports 24-bit 96kHz lossless audio over Bluetooth.
When will we see the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3?
It won’t actually be long before we start seeing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset in the wild. Qualcomm notes that flagship Android phones with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 will be launched in the coming weeks — and companies like Asus, Honor, OnePlus, Oppo, and Xiaomi will all make use of it.