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Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Dimensity 9000: Battle of the arch-rivals

Which one looks better on paper? We've got you covered with our specs comparison.
By
December 4, 2021
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 close up
Qualcomm

Qualcomm has just announced the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the successor to the Snapdragon 888 series processors that powered many flagship Android phones in 2021. The new processor is expected to be adopted by loads of premium flagships next year, but it isn’t the only brand-new high-end SoC available for Android brands.

Mediatek is joining the party as well, as the newly announced Dimensity 9000 is being positioned as a full-blown premium flagship SoC. But is this wishful thinking on Mediatek’s part or is Qualcomm in for a fight next year? Here’s how the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Dimensity 9000 compare in terms of specs and features.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Dimensity 9000: Specs

Mediatek Dimensity 9000Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
CPU
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
1x Cortex-X2 @ 3.05GHz
3x Cortex-A710 @ 2.85GHz
4x Cortex-A510 @ 1.8GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
1x Cortex-X2 @ 3GHz
3x Cortex-A710 @ 2.5GHz
4x Cortex-A510 @ 1.8GHz
GPU
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
Arm Mali-G710 MC10
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Adreno
Display
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
180Hz at FHD+
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
144Hz at QHD+
60Hz at 4K
Machine learning
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
APU 5.0
six cores
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Hexagon
Modem
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
Helio M80 architecture
Sub-6GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Snapdragon X65
Sub-6GHz
mmWave
Camera
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
320MP single
32MP+32MP+32MP triple
8K/24fps recording
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
200MP single
64MP+36MP dual
36MP+36MP+36MP triple
8K/30fps HDR recording
Video playback
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
8K
AV1, H.264, H.265, VP9 decode
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
8K
H.264, H.265, VP9 decode
RAM
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
LPDDR5X
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
LPDDR5
Connectivity
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 6E
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Bluetooth 5.2
Wi-Fi 6E
Process
Mediatek Dimensity 9000
4nm TSMC
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
4nm Samsung

CPU/GPU

When it comes to the all-important CPU category, both Mediatek and Qualcomm are offering a very similar proposition. Both firms are offering a single Cortex-X2 CPU core for heavy tasks, three Cortex-A710 cores for medium activities, and four Cortex-A510 cores for lightweight tasks. The most visible difference here is clock speed, with the Dimensity 9000 enjoying a slight advantage in terms of the X2 and Cortex-A710 clocks.

Meanwhile, the Mediatek chipset also sees a big increase in cache size over its predecessor and the Snapdragon 888, with 8MB of L3 cache and 6MB of system-level cache (SLC) on offer. Qualcomm offers a smaller 6MB L3 cache and 4MB SLC. Its power-efficient Cortex A510 cores also share their L2 cache between two cores, while the equivalent cores in the Dimensity 9000 have their own private 256KB L2. Combined with higher clock speeds, the Dimensity 9000 may be a marginally faster chip in some scenarios.

Both chipsets use the latest Armv9 CPU cores in a 1+3+4 arrangement but there are subtle differences.

Switching to the graphical side of things, Qualcomm has traditionally enjoyed an advantage over Mediatek in this regard. The Snapdragon maker is sticking to Adreno graphics once again (ditching a model number from now on), promising 30% faster graphical rendering and 25% efficiency over the Snapdragon 888 series.

Mediatek, on the other hand, is using an Arm Mali-G710 MC10 GPU. It’s claiming a 35% performance boost over the Snapdragon 888 as well as huge efficiency gains of 60%. This certainly sounds like the Dimensity 9000 will be extremely competitive with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 at first glance, especially when it comes to sustainable performance.

Qualcomm’s latest GPU also offers a variety of features, such as improved variable-rate shading, Unreal Engine 5 support, and volumetric rendering. Mediatek’s processor on the other hand supports software-based ray tracing via Vulkan for Android.

More reading: Everything you need to know about smartphone chipsets

One notable way we’re seeing GPUs being used is to drive higher refresh rates, and Qualcomm has an impressive figure here. The 2022 Snapdragon chip touts a 144Hz refresh rate at QHD+ resolution, while Mediatek hasn’t disclosed a refresh rate at this resolution. It has however claimed a cool 180Hz at FHD+ resolutions.

Finally, the Dimensity 9000 sports LPDDR5X RAM support versus LPDDR5 in the Qualcomm processor. That means a marginally faster peak RAM clock speed of 3,750MHz versus Qualcomm’s 3,200MHz, resulting in a bandwidth comparison of 60Gbps and 51.2Gbps respectively. Although we’ll have to see if any commercial devices end up using this more expensive and marginally lower power RAM.

Imaging smarts and video

Xiaomi 11T Pro camera app on tracks
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

A key differentiating factor these days between high-end chipsets is camera capabilities and performance, and both companies are bringing some impressive credentials to the table here.

An interesting tidbit is that Qualcomm touts a 3.2 gigapixel per second speed for its image signal processor (ISP), compared to Mediatek’s ISP topping out at nine gigapixels per second. It does make you wonder whether gigapixels per second is becoming a marketing measurement, as we’ve seen with AI benchmarks (e.g. TOPS). But what are these ISPs capable of in the first place?

Starting with the Qualcomm chip’s photo capabilities, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 offers support for 200MP images, 64MP+36MP dual cameras, and 36MP triple camera support (36MP+36MP+36MP). Switching to video, it offers 8K/30fps HDR recording as its main upgrade this year. That’s the first major 8K recording upgrade we’ve seen on mobile since the quality option was first introduced. Other notable features here include 4K/120fps recording and 960fps slow-mo at 720p.

Mediatek has made big strides in the camera field, but Qualcomm has raised its game too.

Qualcomm is also touting a host of other features here, such as double the number of burst mode shots (240 12MP shots) and 30 frames of multi-frame image processing (up from six). The latter should result in improved night mode and/or HDR capture. There’s also chromatic aberration correction for ultra-wide cameras, a bokeh engine for 4K video capture, and video super-resolution.

Mediatek’s Dimensity 9000, on the other hand, supports a single 320MP camera and 32MP triple camera support. It also brings 8K recording to Mediatek’s portfolio for the first time (8K/24fps) but lacks HDR at this resolution.

The new chipset also offers 4K three-exposure video HDR and three simultaneous 4K HDR video streams. Mediatek didn’t disclose much more regarding the chipset’s camera features, but the previous-generation Dimensity 1200 also offered features like AI Panorama Night Shot, multi-person video bokeh, video noise reduction, and AI-based auto-exposure/autofocus/auto white balance. So we’re guessing most of these features are available on the new chipset too.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a major part of pretty much all phones on the market today, being used for tasks like computer vision, photography, performance, and more. And both flagship processors bring the heat here as far as dedicated silicon is concerned.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 brings an upgraded Hexagon processor and Hexagon Tensor Accelerator. Qualcomm touts four times faster machine learning performance than the previous generation as well as a Tensor Accelerator that’s twice as fast.

Interestingly, the chipset’s always-on sensing hub now has an additional imaging chip capable of face detection (but not authentication). Qualcomm tells Android Authority that it can detect faces while the phone is asleep without “any material change” to battery life.

Explained: The difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence

Mediatek’s Dimensity 9000 is pretty capable on the machine learning side of things too. It now offers a fifth-generation APU, being a hexa-core design consisting of four high-power cores and two low-power cores. What does this mean for actual improvements though? Well, the company says you can expect a 400% performance boost and a 400% efficiency gain over the Dimensity 1200.

It’s difficult to get a handle on which chipset offers better machine learning credentials, owing to the wide variety of tasks that use ML capabilities in the first place. But both processors seem to offer top-notch features in this regard.

5G and other connectivity

Mediatek Dimensity 9000 SoC
Supplied by Mediatek

It goes without saying that both Mediatek and Qualcomm’s new flagship processors offer 5G connectivity. Both chipsets support sub-6GHz 5G connectivity, but only the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 offers mmWave support. This 5G standard is mainly restricted to the US, but it’s a notable omission nonetheless.

The Snapdragon chipset also tops out at 10Gbps downlink speeds compared to the Mediatek SoC’s 7Gbps speeds. Of course, you’re not going to see these maximum speeds on any device, but mmWave support means the Snapdragon SoC should be faster where coverage is available.

Both the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Dimensity 9000 support Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 6 too, while the Mediatek chipset supports Bluetooth 5.3 and the Snapdragon SoC offers Bluetooth 5.2. Bluetooth 5.3 isn’t a huge upgrade, but still brings better power efficiency, improved reliability, and tougher security.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Dimensity 9000 — which is better?

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 reference phone in hand
Qualcomm

It’s tough to judge which processor will reign supreme when there aren’t any real-world devices to test just yet. So we’ll have to wait until then for a definitive verdict. In saying so, it seems like the two chips are on similar ground in terms of CPU power. We’re not sure which chipset will be better in terms of graphical power either, but we can say that Qualcomm offers a wider variety of features.

Then there’s the question of sustained performance, as both Qualcomm and Mediatek claim to be prioritizing sustained power over peak power. Again, we’ll need to wait for real-world devices to put these claims to the test.

See also: Leak says Dimensity 9000 could be cheaper than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

There’s ultimately only one major confirmed loss for Mediatek right now (mmWave), while 8K HDR recording is another notable advantage Qualcomm has over the Taiwanese company. But Mediatek has a few confirmed advantages too, such as support for newer Bluetooth and RAM standards as well as AV1 decode support.

Either way, it looks like this is the closest the two companies’ flagship offerings have been in years. And that can only be a good thing for consumers. 2022 can’t come soon enough.


Which one is looking like the better chipset to you? Let us know via the poll below.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Dimensity 9000?

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