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Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 with Cortex-X4 core for flagship killers is here

Qualcomm has introduced the new Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chipset with premium features at an affordable price.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8s Gen 3

Qualcomm has introduced the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chipset with premium Snapdragon features. At the same time, the chip should cost less than the top models 8 Gen 2 and 8 Gen 3. It is based on the company’s state-of-the-art 4nm platform with a Cortex-X4 main core running at 3.0 GHz, four performance cores running at 2.8 GHz and three efficiency cores running at 2.0 GHz. It supports up to 24GB LPDDR5x RAM (up to 4,200 MHz) and UFS 4.0 storage. For connectivity, you get USB 3.1 Gen 2 over USB-C.

Here is a comparison with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and the older Snapdragon 8 Gen 2:

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Snapdragon 8s Gen 3Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
NodeTSMC 4nmTSMC 4nmTSMC 4nm
CPU (Prime)1x Cortex-X3 @ 3.2/3.36GHz1x Cortex-X4 @ 3.0GHz1x Cortex-X4 @ 3.3/3.4GHz
CPU (Big)2x Cortex-A715 @ 2.8GHz
2x Cortex-A710 @ 2.8GHz
4x Cortex-A720 @ 2.8GHz3x Cortex-720 @ 3.15GHz
2x Cortex-720 @ 2.96GHz
CPU (Small)3x Cortex-A510 @ 2.0GHz3x Cortex-A520 @ 2.0GHz2x Cortex-A520 @ 2.3GHz
RAMup to 24GB LPDDR5x 4,200MHzup to 24GB LPDDR5x 4,200MHzup to 24GB LPDDR5x 4,800MHz
StorageUFS 4.0UFS 4.0UFS 4.0
USBUSB 3.1USB 3.1 Gen 2USB 3.1 Gen 2
GPUAdreno 740Adreno 735Adreno 750
5G modemX70X70X75
ISP3x 18-bit3x 18-bit3x 18-bit
Video8K HDR @ 30fps
4K @ 120fps
4K HDR @ 60fps
1080p @ 240fps
8K HDR @ 30fps
4K @ 120fps

As you can see, it’s not just a slimmed down version of the 8 Gen 3. The Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 has the Cortex-X4 core with a lower clock speed, but also four large cores and three small ones for a 1+4+3 -Configuration. The original 8 Gen 3 chip has a 1+5+2 configuration. In addition, the RAM support is closer to the 8 Gen 2 and the older Snapdragon X70 5G modem is installed instead of the X75. However, Qualcomm says the 8s Gen 3 implements 3GPP Release 17 and 5G power savings that the 8 Gen 2 doesn’t have. In any case, the chip is ready for the new Wi-Fi 7 standard for more bandwidth and lower latency. 15-bit, 44.1 kHz lossless audio streaming is supported, as is Auracast.

Technical data Snapdragon 8s Gen 3:

Generative AI was of course a big factor in development. The Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 chip can run the most popular models such as Llama 2, Baichuan-7B and Gemini Nano. Models with up to 10 billion parameters are supported. The S model is not as fast as the 8 Gen 3. However, unlike the older 8 Gen 2, it has AI support directly on the chip.

Aside from the AI, the new chip aims to deliver a flagship camera experience and top-notch gaming performance. For the former, it brings a triple 18-bit image processor (ISP), which handles image processing hand in hand with the Hexagon NPU. This enables an “always-sensing camera” function that speeds up face unlock and scanning of QR codes. The ISP+NPU combination also improves image quality in the dark and can even perform outpainting (i.e. “cropping” an image).

Technically speaking, it can drive three 36 megapixel cameras at 30 frames per second without shutter lag or a single 108 megapixel camera at 30 frames per second without shutter lag. The maximum image resolution is 200 megapixels. The chip supports 10-bit HEIC and HEVC images and videos as well as 4K HDR videos with up to 60 frames per second. However, 8K videos or 4K videos at 120 fps are not possible.

For gaming, the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 (SM8635) is equipped with a powerful Adreno GPU. It supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing. Additionally, Adreno Frame Motion Engine 2.0 can double the frame rate without additional power consumption, while Snapdragon Game Super Resolution can add additional pixels to the image. In addition, the processor features QHD+ resolution with up to 144 Hz or 4K with 60 Hz. Variable refresh rates from 1 to 240 Hz are possible. The 8s Gen 3 can control external displays with 8K at 30 Hz or with 1080p at up to 240 Hz. The processor also supports H.265 and AV1 video decoding at up to 4K at 60fps including HDR playback (HDR10+, Dolby Vision, HLG).

Several major smartphone manufacturers have already confirmed the Snapdragon 8s Gen 3 for some of their models. These include Honor, iQOO, Realme and Xiaomi, including affordable Redmi phones. The launch is supposedly “in the coming months,” but we have a feeling we’ll have a much shorter wait.


Achim Maier
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