- On-device generative AI was a key theme of the launch.
- Qualcomm has revamped AI Engine with support for LLM, LVM, and ASR to run solely on-device.
- It can run 10 billion parameters on-device and LLM models at up to 20 tokens per second.
Qualcomm announced the next-generation Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile platform at its annual Snapdragon Summit held on October 24-26 in Hawaii. One of the key highlights of the new system-on-a-chip (SoC) is that it is now capable of running accelerated AI computer engines on-device. The chipset extends the possibilities of generative AI and enables a rich user experience. The launch will strengthen Qualcomm’s lead in the hardware-based AI capabilities for mobile devices.
On-device Generative AI: The Key Theme
Qualcomm spent a lot of time talking about generative AI and how it will transform smartphone computing and user experiences. Last year, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, the focus was on the Hexagon processor with Sensing Hub and on-device personalization. This year’s focus was on running Large Language Models (LLM), Language Vision Models (LVM), and transformer network-based automatic speech recognition (ASR) with up to 10 billion parameters running natively on-device.
Qualcomm has refreshed the AI engine with the Hexagon NPU showing double the performance growth and a 40% increase in the performance per watt to run the AI models. The chipset can now run up to 10 billion parameters on-device and LLM models at up to 20 tokens per second, removing the need to rely on the cloud for inferencing. Qualcomm has partnered with Meta to support Llama 2 and with Microsoft for Stable Diffusion. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, using Stable Diffusion on-device, can generate images in less than a second, without connecting to the internet. These are impressive capabilities for a low-power battery-operated device.
WATCH: On-Device Generative AI: Text-to-Image in Under a Second
Qualcomm has also added support on the SDK level so that developers can include their own models. Xiaomi has added a model for running AI on-device with six billion parameters. It has also added a host of support for creators to use multi-modal generative AI like:
- LLM-based assistants can help the creative process and summarize ideas for you.
- LVM can bring these ideas to life with the use of fast diffusion technology. For instance, you can ask to generate a completely new image, say, a family of four on the beach eating burgers.
Cognitive AI, i.e. LLM and LVM together, give the best user experience. HONOR announced that the Magic6 series smartphones will be powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC and will have on-device LLM with seven billion parameters.
These models are being used for a breakthrough in camera experiences like:
- A video object eraser by Arcsoft, allows to remove unwanted objects, and video bombers from videos.
- OEMs can even use two always-sensing cameras in the front and back enabling easy QR code scan and face unlock.
- The neural network allows you to zoom out beyond the picture captured, thus adding missing parts to photos making it feel like it was captured by a wide-angle lens. Qualcomm demoed this in action, calling it Photo Expansion, and it looked promising.
With advancements in AI-generated content, Qualcomm has also partnered with Truepic to adopt the C2PA standard. It lets viewers know whether the image is genuine or AI-generated and uses Qualcomm mobile security to create a cryptographic seal that indicates a genuine image. As all these experiences are on-device, the data never leaves your device, thus increasing security.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 3: Key Specifications
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC is built on the enhanced TSMC 4nm process node, just like the last two generations. It is impressive to see how Qualcomm still managed to increase the CPU performance by making it 30% faster, while also consuming 20% less power. This was achieved by using a tri-cluster eight-core CPU design featuring:
- One ARM Cortex-X4–based prime core clocked at up to 3.3GHz
- Five ARM Cortex-720-based performance cores clocked between 3.0-3.2GHz
- Two ARM Cortex-520-based efficiency cores clocked at up to 2.3GHz
In terms of graphics, Qualcomm claims that the new Adreno GPU is 25% faster in performance and 25% more power efficient. Overall power savings have improved by 10%, Qualcomm said.
Qualcomm has also improved the hardware-based ray tracing by 40% and added support for Unreal Engine 5 Lumen. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 is the first chipset to support this engine. There is also the Adreno Frame Motion Engine 2.0, which doubles the frame rate from 60fps to 120fps. Furthermore, with the Snapdragon Elite Gaming suite, the new SoC also supports 240fps gaming on a 240Hz display.
Enhanced Connectivity: 5G Advanced Ready, Wi-Fi 7 and Dual Bluetooth
Qualcomm has added support for 5G advance using the Snapdragon X75 Modem-RF System, with hardware-based AI acceleration, making it another first for Qualcomm. This enables the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset to achieve better speeds, coverage, mobility, link robustness, and location accuracy. There is also the Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 Wi-Fi 7 platform that supports the High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link for faster speeds and low-latency performance.
OEM Partners and Expected Timeline
The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chipset has secured design wins among global OEMs, including ASUS, HONOR, iQOO, MEIZU, NIO, Nubia, OnePlus, OPPO, realme, Redmi, RedMagic, Sony, vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE.
This is the first time that the launch of the chipset and device occurred simultaneously. Xiaomi took the limelight by launching the Xiaomi 14 series powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 SoC at the same time as the chipset launch. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 shipments will ramp up in Q1 2024 with wider adoption across the smartphone OEMs.
Qualcomm S7, S7 Pro Gen 1 Sound Platforms with AI-enhanced Audio and XPAN Technology
Along with the mobile platform, Qualcomm also announced the S7 and S7 Pro Gen 1 sound platforms that aim to offer a more advanced and personalized audio experience. Just like in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile platform, AI follows a similar trajectory here as well. The sound platforms come with a dedicated AI coreto offer up to 100x higher AI performance, and five times more computing power compared to the previous generation.
The dedicated AI cores are also used for audio curation including hearing loss compensation, low-latency DSP and to power the latest fourth-generation Adaptive ANC. The platforms support Bluetooth 5.4, and Bluetooth LE including Auracast Broadcast Audio.
The Qualcomm S7 Pro Gen 1 platform takes it up a notch by adding micro-power Wi-Fi connectivity to intelligently switch between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to offer the whole home and building coverage with XPAN technology. It supports 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and even 6GHz Wi-Fi bands. Lastly, with Snapdragon Sound, the S7 Pro Gen 1 can offer data rates of up to 29Mpbs, enabling lossless music streaming over Wi-Fi up to 24-bit/192kHz.
Snapdragon Seamless: Enabling Interoperability Between Windows and Android Devices
The Android and Windows ecosystems are fragmented, which makes interoperability a challenge. In an attempt to make devices work better together, irrespective of the OEM, Qualcomm also announced Snapdragon Seamless, which will enable Windows PCs and Android devices to discover each other and communicate seamlessly.
Samsung, with its Galaxy ecosystem, is trying to offer a seamless connectivity experience, but that is restricted to its own devices. Qualcomm is trying to break that barrier by offering a multi-device, multi-connect experience. Snapdragon Seamless will unify all devices from TWS and laptops to PCs, tablets, and smartphones, allowing rich experiences such as earbuds switching, text copy/paste, and image and video drag and drop between devices. It eliminates the need to constantly pair and unpair devices. Qualcomm demoed this between HONOR devices, and it looks promising.