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Snapdragon 8150 and Helio P80 far ahead of the pack in AI benchmark

They might not be final production units, but the new chipsets are certainly shaping up to be AI powerhouses.

Published onNovember 21, 2018

A Qualcomm Snapdragon render.
  • Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8150 and MediaTek’s Helio P80 are the top two chipsets in an AI benchmark.
  • The benchmark runs nine computer vision tasks to determine AI performance.
  • The Snapdragon 8150 and Helio P80 devices are development platforms, which aren’t representative of actual phones.

AI capabilities have improved massively over the past 12 months, as more manufacturers adopt dedicated silicon or beef up their existing capabilities. We’re still in the early days of quantifying performance, but one AI benchmark app has ranked Qualcomm and MediaTek’s next chips at number one and two respectively.

The imaginatively named AI-Benchmark app runs nine computer vision-related AI tasks across a variety of neural networks. These tasks include object recognition/classification, photo enhancement, semantic image segmentation, and super-resolution. A score is doled out at the end of these tasks, with a higher score being better.

Serial tipster Ice Universe spotted Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8150 development platform in the top spot, followed by MediaTek’s Helio P80 development platform. The Qualcomm chipset achieved a score of 22,082 points. The U.S. chipmaker hasn’t announced the processor just yet, but we’re expecting an unveiling next month.

The AI-Benchmark ranking of devices.

MediaTek’s Helio P80 development platform was in second place, hitting a score of 19,453. This processor hasn’t been formally revealed either, although MediaTek told us to expect a chipset more powerful than the Helio P70 before the end of the year.

There was a huge gap to third place, which was surprisingly occupied by the OnePlus 6. It scored 12,274 points, just edging out the HUAWEI Mate 20 Pro (12,026). Otherwise, the HUAWEI Mate 20, Mate 20X, and Kirin 970-powered phones accounted for the rest of the top ten.

Is this the real deal?

A MediaTek Helio P60 sign.

The Snapdragon 8150 and Helio P80 listings here are for development platforms, meaning they don’t represent actual phone designs. Development devices are often equipped with fans and have larger form factors, so thermal-induced throttling shouldn’t occur as often as on a proper smartphone.

What does this mean for performance in production phones though? Well, judging by MediaTek’s earlier Helio P60 chipset, we can expect a notable drop when the Snapdragon 8150 and Helio P80 make their way into final production units. The benchmark ranking includes a Helio P60 development platform at number 20 (5,767 points), sparring with several Snapdragon 845 phones. But the first proper Helio P60 smartphone, the vivo V11, comes in at number 40 (4,263 points).

A closer look at Arm's machine learning hardware

In other words, we should definitely expect the Snapdragon 8150 and Helio P80 scores to drop off with production phones. But the gap between the top two and the rest of the field is so massive, it’s possible final production units will still be head and shoulders above the competition.

The website also issued a disclaimer for the OnePlus 6’s performance, noting that it may have been “unofficial/prototype hardware” with tweaked firmware. After all, the next Snapdragon 845 device is at number 15, scoring 6,895 points.

There are plenty of reasons to look forward to more advanced AI capabilities, delivering better battery life and faster performance (duh) in AI-related tasks. But this also opens the door to better photography (thanks to faster, more accurate scene recognition), more offline inference (reducing data costs), faster natural language processing, and new types of apps.

Do you look at AI capabilities before splashing out on a smartphone? Let us know in the comments!

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