Wednesday, 02 December 2020 11:14

KEYNOTE VIDEO: Qualcomm launches new Snapdragon 888 SoC with 3rd-gen X60 5G modem on day 1 of Summit Featured


Qualcomm’s answer to Apple’s A14 processor, and those of Huawei, Samsung and others has arrived, with the lucky-numbered 888 5G Mobile Platform delivering what Qualcomm claims are giant leaps in AI, the most advanced 5G platform, a tripling down on computation photography, unrivalled gaming speed, the fastest Wi-Fi and more!

Claiming to “redefine premium” with its new SnapDragon 888 mobile platform designed to “power the next era of flagship devices” during day one of its two-day Snapdragon Tech Summit Digital 2020, Qualcomm’s President, Cristiano Amon took the virtual stage.

He was virtually joined by “global industry leaders to highlight the critical role Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-Series mobile platforms have played to drive experiences forward for the next generation of devices”.

Naturally, Qualcomm says its “innovation in the premium tier, coupled with the evolution of 5G, is accelerating and continuing to redefine immersive consumer experiences”, and that “the proliferation of these premium tier experiences has and will continue to enrich the lives of billions of smartphone users around the world”.

Amon said: “Creating premium experiences takes a relentless focus on innovation. It takes long term commitment, even in the face of immense uncertainty.

“It takes an organisation that’s focused on tomorrow, to continue to deliver the technologies that redefine premium experiences".

Stating that it is “kicking off a new era for mobile”, Qualcomm states it “builds foundational technologies for smartphones first, and then these technologies extend to the broader Snapdragon tiers and into important growth segments being transformed by mobile technology, such as Always On, Always Connected PCs, Extended Reality (XR) devices, Edge/Cloud AI products, 5G Fixed Wireless Broadband, and multiple others.

“The requirements and complexity of these diverse applications depend on innovation that comes from breakthroughs in the premium tier. Alex Katouzian, senior VP and GM of mobile, compute, and infrastructure at Qualcomm, introduced the company’s latest flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform” for all those promised powerful flagship performance experiences, which Qualcomm states “delivers the premium experiences users deserve”.

The Day 1 keynote can be seen here, with the article continuing below, please read on!

Lekha Motiwala, director of product management for Qualcomm, shared these details of the 888 SoC:

Snapdragon 888, with the 3rd generation Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System, enables global compatibility by offering mmWave and sub-6 across all major bands worldwide, as well as support for 5G carrier aggregation, global multi-SIM, stand alone, non-stand alone, and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing.

The new 6th generation Qualcomm AI Engine, with the completely re-engineered Qualcomm Hexagon processor, takes a pivotal leap forward in AI compared to the previous generation to improve performance, power efficiency—all at an astonishing 26 tera operations per second (TOPS). The platform is further enhanced by the 2nd generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub, which incorporates lower-power always-on AI processing for intuitive, intelligent features.

Since its inception, Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming has delivered dozens of mobile-first technologies to smartphones, including Updateable GPU Drivers, Desktop Forward Rendering, and frame rates achieving up to 144 frames per second (fps). The 3rd generation of Snapdragon Elite Gaming featured in Snapdragon 888 delivers Qualcomm Technologies’ most significant upgrade in Qualcomm Adreno GPU performance.

Snapdragon 888 will triple down on the future of computational photography and transform smartphones into professional quality cameras. With the faster gigapixel speed Qualcomm Spectra ISP, users can capture photos and videos at 2.7 gigapixels per second or roughly 120 photos at 12MP resolution—up to 35% faster than the previous generation.

Here’s the official Qualcomm 888 SoC promo video:

During the keynote, Qualcomm also demonstrated the power of Snapdragon 888 through a Radio-Controlled race car connected entirely by 5G mmWave.

We’re told that “two race cars were connected to a private 5G network that was built with the help of Verizon and Ericsson and controlled over 5G using a Snapdragon 888 reference design with the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System. The drivers controlled these cars from over a mile away and viewed live video of the track from afar using the amazing capture capabilities of Snapdragon 888.

“Additionally, with the help of Tension, the race can be viewed on multiple low latency streams to track the RC cars’ position on a dynamic map using the newest location capabilities of the Qualcomm® Location Suite for improved accuracy. This showcases the use case possibilities when high performance, reliable, and low latency communications are the norm”.

Here’s the official promo video of the 5G radio controlled car race:


Qualcomm notes that Amon, Katouzian, and Motiwala were also joined by ecosystem leaders (in order of appearance):

  • "Verizon is on the forefront of showcasing the transformative capabilities of 5G Ultra-Wideband," said Nicola Palmer, chief product officer at Verizon. "Qualcomm Technologies’ Snapdragon Tech Summit Digital 2020 is an opportunity to reflect on the successes we've had this year, including launching nationwide 5G coverage, dozens of 5G Ultra-Wideband cities, MEC deployments, and a multitude of 5G devices and innovations. It also gives us the opportunity to look towards 2021 as we continue to bring the possibilities of 5G to life for businesses, individuals, and society."

  • “NTT DOCOMO has been a leading mobile innovator in Japan for nearly 30 years and this leadership has continued into the 5G era, as the first operator in Japan to launch commercial 5G service in March this year,” said Naoki Tani, executive vice president and chief technology officer, NTT DOCOMO, INC.

  • “5G enables a new era of mobile experiences that are making people’s lives more convenient and comfortable, and these experiences are being brought to life on the DOCOMO 5G network through our exciting portfolio of 5G devices powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G mobile platforms. We look forward to the next generation of 5G devices powered by Qualcomm Technologies’ industry-leading Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform to deliver the best experiences on DOCOMO’s 5G network.”

  • “Our work with Qualcomm Technologies is aligned with our mission to make the latest Natural Language Processing technology accessible to researchers and businesses around the globe, and run as fast and efficiently as possible” said Clément Delangue, co-founder and chief executive officer of Hugging Face. “We need our models to run on the most premium of mobile platforms… and that means Qualcomm Snapdragon.”

  • “Xperia smartphones are feature-packed with Sony's advanced imaging and entertainment technologies, and it’s essential for our products to be powered by the latest premium Snapdragon mobile platform to offer the best-in-class experiences to our fans. One of the entertainment experiences which we are very passionate about is mobile gaming, and we are overwhelmed by the incredible positive response we’ve received from fans around the world for Xperia 1 II and Xperia 5 II,” said Mitsuya Kishida, president, Sony Mobile Communications Inc. “We are committed to further enhancing mobile entertainment in the 5G era and look forward to working closely with Qualcomm Technologies to continue delivering world-class mobile gaming and other experiences on the go.”

  • “In collaboration with Epic Games, the OnePlus 8 Series became the first smartphones to deliver Fortnite at 90 FPS, a groundbreaking mobile gaming achievement made possible by Qualcomm Snapdragon Elite Gaming,” said Kyle Kiang, chief marketing officer, OnePlus.

  • “Over the past decade, from the first generation of Xiaomi mobile phones to the 10th anniversary masterpiece Xiaomi 10 series, we have been joining hands together with Qualcomm Technologies to bring the most advanced mobile experiences to users around the world,” said Lei Jun, Founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Xiaomi.

  • “Snapdragon 888 is the most powerful mobile platform from Qualcomm Technologies ever. In addition to the industry leading 5G connectivity, it has brought groundbreaking breakthroughs and innovations in AI, gaming, and camera. I'm glad that our new flagship smartphone Mi11 will be the one of the first devices with Snapdragon 888. This is another cutting-edge product from us and will be loaded with various hardcore technologies.”

  • The following OEMs provided their support for Snapdragon 888, including ASUS, Black Shark, Lenovo, LG, MEIZU, Motorola, Nubia, realme, OnePlus, OPPO, Sharp, vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE.

David McQueen, Research Director at tech market advisory firm, ABI Research provided this commentary: 

"Despite the smartphone market currently pushing quickly into the lower-priced 5G segment, which will be the catalyst for accelerating 5G adoption in 2021 and beyond, a host of OEMs have committed to providing their support for the Snapdragon 888, including Lenovo, LG, MEIZU, Motorola, OnePlus, OPPO, vivo, and Xiaomi. This reinforces Qualcomm’s strategy for supporting “challenger” vendors in their quest to compete and differentiate effectively in the high-end smartphone market against the captive tier 1 OEMs, notably Samsung, Apple, and Huawei.

"The list of “challenger” OEMs will be a welcome shot in the arm for the high-end smartphones sector, which was at risk of being squeezed owing to the frantic pace of plunging 5G smartphone prices. With such strong backing, they can enhance their competitiveness in the sector while helping grow volume and widen the window of opportunity open to the premium 5G smartphones sector, which could ultimately delay the onset of a fast-approaching mass market.

"As an aside, and what should not be lost in this latest release, is the choice of number for the update – 888 – which is the luckiest combination of numbers in Chinese numerology.

"While, in reality, the launch could just signal another set of digits to show its latest enhanced platform refresh, it may also point to Qualcomm extending an olive branch to those in the industry caught up in the ongoing China-US trade war. Moreover, 888 is regarded by the Chinese as a symbol of fortune and prosperity, which will also undoubtedly chime well with Qualcomm’s expectations of success for its newest premium platform".

The Day 2 Keynote will be able to be watched live and on demand here after it airs in a few hours time:


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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