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The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is here, what it promises, and more tech today
Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Wednesday, 2 December 2020.
1. Your 2021 Android flagship will have one of these…
Qualcomm announced its next-generation flagship chipset, the new Snapdragon 888, which will power most good Android flagships in 2021, and take the fight to Apple’s A14 chipset. This time, though, it’s made by Samsung, not TSMC, and there’s a bunch of details to get into.
What we know so far from the Day 1 keynote (YouTube) is looking good, and the Day 2 keynote is unfolding as I write – check out a deep dive just published, here, or catch a wonderful technical video from Gary Explains here below:
The big jump forwards for the Snapdragon range may well be here. It could well be a monster chip for 2021 flagships:
- The 888 is based on the 5nm node, manufactured by Samsung.
- The CPU configuration is: 1x 2.84GHz (Cortex-X1), 3x 2.4GHz (Cortex-A78), and 4x 1.8GHz (Cortex-A55) for a 25% better CPU performance.
- The modem is now fully integrated, unlike in the 865. It’s the latest X60 5G modem, which supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, with multi-SIM support, improved carrier aggregation for fast data speeds, as well as Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, to improve support with existing 4G networks. In short, you can expect to hit those peak 5G speeds more consistently than the last generation. Plus, Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, dual radio Bluetooth 5.2 functionality, and support for the latest Bluetooth LE Audio standard.
- On the GPU front, Qualcomm is claiming a 35% faster GPU too, with new Snapdragon Elite Gaming features and faster graphics performance. This augments existing updatable GPU drivers, 144fps frame rates, and Desktop Forward Rendering.
- It has the new sixth-generation AI engine. It boasts 26 operations per second of machine learning compute.
- One more headline feature: a new Spectra image processor boasts 2.7 gigapixels per second of throughput; enough to process 120 12MP images per second.
Brands on board:
- As a point in the presentation, we saw a list of “distinguished partners” that will launch a premium smartphone based on the Snapdragon 888 “next year”.
- That included Xiaomi, LG, OnePlus, Oppo, Motorola, Asus, ZTE, and the usual brands.
- But, actually, the missing brands are at least partially interesting thing here: The Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Samsung logos were missing.
- Hm! I’ve watched that part in the presentation a few times. Does it mean there’ll be no Samsung or Google smartphone with a Snapdragon 888 in 2021?
- Eh, I wouldn’t be sure of that.
- For example, the 2019 edition of this graphic didn’t list Google, Realme, or Sony, but only Google held off on delivering a Snapdragon 865 series phone in 2020.
- The brands listed may have just agreed to being listed and taking part in the Summit day. The missing brands are all heavyweights, and having their brands associated like this may not be what those companies want to do. Sony, for example, is very careful with its branding.
- Still, Samsung was on there in 2019, but not in 2020…
- I checked in with our own Hadlee Simons who has attended the Qualcomm Summits in the past and follows the game closely. He told me: “Rumors from earlier this year noted that the Galaxy S21 series would be equipped with the (new) Exynos 2100 or Snapdragon 888. It’s also worth noting that Samsung’s own foundry company is all-but-confirmed to be manufacturing the Snapdragon 888. These are different companies under the Samsung conglomerate, but it’s noteworthy.
- “The Exynos 2100 is likely to be the first Exynos flagship processor without Samsung’s custom CPU tech since the Galaxy S6’s Exynos 7420 chipset.”
- We’ve been assuming the next Snapdragon chipset would be the Snapdragon 875, following the naming convention of the Snapdragon 835, 845, 855, and more recent 865 over the past four years.
- But Qualcomm had some weird numbers back in the day, too: the 800, 801 and 805 between 2013/14, and 808 and 810, 820, and 821 in 2016.
- So this run of consistency seemed a little too conventional. Jumping to 888 may mark this as Important from Qualcomm.
Also: No word on a new desktop chip, yet.
2. Report: Xiaomi has incredibly lofty smartphone shipment goals for 2021 (Android Authority).
3. Google Pixel 5 may soon gain a smart automatic equalizer feature: Adaptive Sound (Android Authority).
4. Desktop mode pioneer Motorola is finally bringing the computer-like experience to modern phones — like Dex, but Moto (Android Authority).
5. Holy moly: iPhone zero-click Wi-Fi exploit is one of the most breathtaking hacks ever. Really! It’s crazy reading: “Wi-Fi packets could steal photos. No interaction needed. Over the air.” (Also breathtaking: a 30,000 word post where a Google researcher detailed it all in full) (Ars Technica).
6. Now Google Maps has its own news feed called ‘Community Feed’ for local areas — rolling out globally right now (blog.google).
7. Puerto Rico’s iconic Arecibo Observatory radio telescope suffered a catastrophic collapse yesterday, sending the 900-ton antenna into the dish. Here’s how it looks from a drone POV (YouTube).
8. Hyundai reveals the EV platform for its 23 upcoming vehicles (Engadget).
9. Salesforce announces it’s buying Slack in a $27.7B deal (TechCrunch).
10. 600 “young entrepreneurs, activists, scientists and entertainers” featured in the 10th Annual Forbes 30 under 30, congrats to them. YouTubers like MKBHD and MrBeast were listed, and the list is pretty impressive across so many facets of life. (How are they all so young!)
11. The annual Spotify Wrapped is out. My top artist: Tame Impala. Also, more than 7,000 minutes of podcasts and I only switched to Spotify halfway through the year. Hmm. (Spotify).
12. Microsoft is selling an ugly MS Paint sweater and part of the proceeds benefit Girls Who Code (The Verge).
13. Six-word Sci-Fi stories: ‘“Enjoy,” it said, and ate Mars’ (Wired).
14. ELI5: “Why do joints make a “cracking” noise for certain activities such as walking up stairs, but have no actual pain associated with them?” (r/explainlikeimfive)
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