Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC Debuts With New 5G Modem, Next-Gen AI Engine for Flagship Smartphones


Xiaomi is coming amongst the first manufacturers bringing the Snapdragon 888-powered smartphones to the market.

Qualcomm on Tuesday unveiled the Snapdragon 888 5G mobile platform as its next-generation flagship system-on-chip (SoC) for premium smartphones at a virtual keynote held during the first day of the Snapdragon Tech Summit 2020. The new chip, which is the successor to last year’s Snapdragon 865 SoC and was speculated would be named the Snapdragon 875 SoC up until now, comes with a third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 5G modem that is touted to enable compatibility for both mmWave and sub-6 networks across all major bands worldwide. The Snapdragon 888 SoC is also designed to deliver an upgraded photography experience, with an all-new Qualcomm Spectra ISP.

As a significant upgrade over the Snapdragon 865 that was launched around the same time last year, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC comes with a sixth-generation Qualcomm AI Engine that comes along with a “completely redesigned” Qualcomm Hexagon processor to deliver new artificial intelligence (AI) experiences.

Manufacturers including Asus, Black Shark, LG, Lenovo, Meizu, Motorola, Nubia, OnePlus, Oppo, Realme, Sharp, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE are expected to bring their devices based on the Snapdragon 888 SoC next year. Xiaomi co-founder and CEO Lei Jun also confirmed during the keynote that its Mi 11 will be one of the first devices to come with the latest SoC.

The San Diego-based company claimed that compared to the previous generation, the new mobile platform would provide improved performance and power efficiency in AI processing — all at a rate of 26 tera operations per second (TOPS). There is also a second-generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub for lower-power, always-on AI processing.

Specifically for gamers, the Snapdragon 888 SoC comes with a third-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming mobile engine that includes updatable GPU drivers, desktop forward rendering, and frame rates reaching up to 144 frames per second.

The new Snapdragon SoC also includes the next-generation Spectra ISP that is capable of capturing photos and videos at up to 2.7 gigapixels per second, which translates to roughly 120 photos at 12-megapixel resolution. This is up to 35 percent faster than the previous generation ISP available on the Snapdragon 865 SoC.

Qualcomm has provided the third-generation Snapdragon X60 5G modem-RF system on the Snapdragon 888 SoC to enable wider 5G compatibility. The new built-in modem brings support for 5G carrier aggregation, global multi-SIM, standalone and non-standalone (SA and NSA) networks, and dynamic spectrum sharing.

To demonstrate new capabilities of the Snapdragon 888 SoC during the keynote, Qualcomm showed two radio-controlled (RC) race cars connected entirely using a 5G mmWave network that were controlled from over a mile away using a Snapdragon 888 reference design. The 5G network enabling the experience was built in collaboration with Verizon and Ericsson. Further, the reference design included the Qualcomm Location Suite to highlight improved accuracy through the latest development.

Detailed specifications of the Snapdragon 888 SoC will be announced at the day-2 session on Wednesday.

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