Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC looks set to dramatically boost mobile gaming performance

stylised render of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm has unveiled its flagship SoC at its annual Tech Summit event. It’s the chip that will no doubt find its way into 2022 flagship Android devices. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the first SoC to bear Qualcomm’s new naming scheme. Gone are the former triple-digit names. It’s an all new design featuring the ARM v9 instruction set. Qualcomm believes the new CPU is up to 20% faster than the one in the Snapdragon 888 while consuming 30% less power. The Adreno GPU looks impressive too with a promised 30% performance boost alongside a 25% power saving.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Is built on a cutting edge 4nm process. The eight-core Kryo CPU features a hybrid architecture with a single 3.0 GHz Cortex-X2 core, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.5 GHz and four Cortex-A510 cores at 1.8 GHz. Qualcomm was less forthcoming regarding the specifics of the GPU, but it’s a sure bet that this is the SoC that will find its way into high end gaming smartphones.

The chip includes a host of upgrades including a 5G modem capable of up to 10Gbps speeds along with up to 3.6Gbps Wi-Fi 6E support and various security upgrades. The image signal processor has been improved, with the new 18-bit processor better able to capture and process 4K video, and it introduces 8K capturing for the first time. Those ultra expensive 8K TVs need some content to show them off so that is welcome.

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On paper, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 looks fast, power efficient and has a lot of great connectivity, but it's the gaming performance and options we’re particularly interested in. New features include the Adreno Frame Motion Engine which Qualcomm claims can “generate more frames, run at double the frame rate, without increasing power consumption” which sounds like it could be some kind of supersampling. Also new to this generation is volumetric rendering which will help developers deliver more realistic lighting effects. Then there’s the so-called Variable Rate Shading Pro. Qualcomm is partnering with game developers to ensure their games support the new features of the chip.

We can expect to see the first Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones to be announced as soon as this month, with many more to come in 2022. Of course, the competition never sits still with Apple expected to release its competing A16 SoC to power the next generation iPhone.

Qualcomm has big plans beyond the mobile space. It’s gone so far as to claim that the days of x86 are numbered. If the future of the PC is ARM, then chips like the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.