April 13, 2024

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Qualcomm's 8S Gen 3 targets affordable high-end phones

Qualcomm's 8S Gen 3 targets affordable high-end phones

Qualcomm has just launched a new chipset designed to be just below the current flagship in terms of capabilities and price. The Snapdragon 8S Gen 3 aims to bring most of the features of the 8 Gen 3 — including support for on-device generative AI models — to more affordable phones. It's a new layer of the 8 Series' best chips, and it's also a bit confusing.

Before we get into all that, let's start with the straightforward stuff: The 8th Gen 3 includes a GPU similar to the standard 8th gen 3, though it has a lower performance core and runs at a lower frequency — the main core runs at up to 3.0GHz vs. 3.4 GHz on 8G 3G. The new 8S also uses a previous-generation modem, the X70 5G, which includes Wi-Fi 7 support. There's also support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing so real-world games run more smoothly, which seems like the standard for phone excellence these days.

Of course, there is artificial intelligence. The 8S Gen 3 supports multimodal generative AI on-device and can run large language models of up to 10 billion parameters – including the likes of Llama 2 and Gemini Nano. It doesn't offer all the AI ​​capabilities of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, but it does support AI virtual assistants and image expansion.

The way Debu John, senior director of product management at Qualcomm, explains it, each top-level Snapdragon layer can be divided into three subcategories. There are Snapdragon 8, 7, 6 and 4 chipsets, and within them, up to three different offerings. This “S” series chip sits just below the standard 8 Gen 3 chip, and if Qualcomm releases an 8 Plus Gen 3 chip, it will rank first.

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Did you understand it? Wow, it gets even more confusing when you remember that phone manufacturers are still using the 2022 flagship, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, in non-flagship phones just like the OnePlus 12R. There's also a Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 just below the 8S Gen 3, though it only made its debut A bunch of phones. Qualcomm appears to be aggressively segmenting the high-end phone market, perhaps in an attempt to prevent OEMs from turning to MediaTek for their less-than-flagship devices.

In any case, 8G 3G should start showing up on the market soon enough, but not in devices that sell easily in the US. Honor, iQOO, Realme, Redmi and Xiaomi have all said they will use the platform, with new devices expected “in the coming months”.