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The Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 might drop little CPU cores altogether

Qualcomm might follow in MediaTek's footsteps by offering big and medium cores only.
By

Published onDecember 8, 2023

Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders logo light closer up
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • A leaker has claimed that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 will lack little CPU cores.
  • Instead, the 2025 flagship mobile chipset could ship with two big and six medium CPU cores.

Qualcomm confirmed the first Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 details at its Snapdragon Summit back in October, revealing that the flagship mobile chipset will use custom Oryon CPU cores for the first time.

Now, Weibo leaker Digital Chat Station has posted apparent Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 specs. For one, the leaker asserts that the chipset is codenamed Sun and is built on a 3nm TSMC process.

But the most prominent claim is that the new chipset will have an octa-core CPU with two big “Phoenix” cores and six medium “Phoenix” cores. If confirmed, this would mean the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 is dropping little cores altogether.

Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 CPU claims dissected

Little CPU cores are typically power-efficient cores meant for handling light workloads, improving battery life in theory. So it would be a massive change if Qualcomm decided to drop them from its flagship silicon.

In saying so, the company has been reducing the number of little cores over the past couple of years. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 started this trend, going from four to three little cores. Meanwhile, the brand-new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, set to power next year’s top Android phones, went from three to two little cores.

There are a number of theoretical reasons why the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 might not have little CPU cores. For one, the company might conclude that custom medium cores are as efficient as (if not more efficient than) any little cores it could use. It’s also possible Qualcomm simply doesn’t have custom little cores ready for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4.

What does this mean for battery life and performance?

Nevertheless, this could mean that the majority of flagship Android phones in 2025 would completely lack little cores. MediaTek has already beaten Qualcomm to the punch in this regard. The newly announced MediaTek Dimensity 9300 processor drops little cores altogether in favor of four big and four medium cores.

It seems counter-intuitive to drop these small cores if they’re meant to be cooler and more efficient. But MediaTek claims that the Dimensity 9300 CPU delivers 10-15% power savings when running “typical” tasks and more demanding workloads. The firm also claimed that it can offer up to 33% power savings at the same performance as the Dimensity 9200.

Do you think chipmakers should drop little CPU cores?

1915 votes

Ditching little cores in favor of more big and medium cores should translate into much better multi-core CPU performance. We already saw the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 3 making big gains in this area as they reduced the number of little cores.

Nevertheless, we’re keen to see what dropping the little CPU core means for real-world smartphones. Fingers crossed that battery life, temperatures, and long-term performance don’t suffer.

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