Smartphone processors don’t typically get the same kind of attention that, well, actual mobile devices do ahead of their official announcements, but while it’s still early to know for sure how the industry will look in 2022, a number of recent rumors and a vague AMD confirmation seem to suggest some big breakthroughs might be right around the corner.
To fend off Samsung’s high-quality graphics-focused Exynos 2200 chip and whatever A-series monsters Apple has in the pipeline after revolutionizing tablet power with the M1 iPad Pro, Qualcomm is apparently working on a “next-gen premium” SoC carrying model number SM8450.
Right off the bat, we should mention this thing is different from the oft-rumored and recently benchmarked Snapdragon 888 Plus, aka SM8350+, which is widely expected to follow in the footsteps of the regular SM8350 (better known as the Snapdragon 888) with relatively modest performance gains by the end of 2021.
Likely to see daylight inside 2022’s first wave of Android flagships, the SM8450 could bring way more than your routine yearly upgrades in CPU and GPU muscle to the table. If the latest information shared by Evan Blass on Twitter proves reliable (which is almost always the case), the unnamed next-gen Snapdragon powerhouse will combine ARM Cortex v9-based Kryo 780 CPU cores with an Adreno 730 graphics processing unit.
While these types of monikers can certainly be misleading (just think of the Snapdragon 888, which isn’t that much more impressive than the 865), the Adreno 730 name gives us hope for something truly game-changing. We’re talking something a lot better than the Adreno 660-integrating Snapdragon 888, which came after the Adreno 650-packing Snapdragon 865.
The last jump of a similar magnitude came when the Snapdragon 845 chipset replaced the 835’s Adreno 540 with a 630 model, also upgrading the Kryo 280 CPU cores to 385. The Kryo-replacing branding scheme has actually stayed consistent ever since, so the impending jump from Kryo 680 to 780 may not signal anything groundbreaking… at least at first glance.
Unsurprisingly, the SM8450 is tipped to come with many other changes and improvements as well, including a key switch from a super-advanced 5nm fabrication process to… even more advanced 4nm technology and a leap from a built-in X60 to an integrated X65 5G modem.
The rest of the specifications and capabilities seemingly leaked today are just as promising, from the Spectra 680 image signal processor (up from a Spectra 580 on the Snapdragon 888) to an Adreno 665 video processing unit, Adreno 1195 display processing unit, and support for up to 1GHz mmWave downlink and 400MHz Sub-6 D.
That’s… a lot of numbers you may not know what to make of, and of course, we don’t really know either how they’ll translate into real-world performance. But because we don’t believe in coincidences, it sure looks like Qualcomm is preparing something big on the mobile graphics front to keep the newly formed alliance between Samsung and AMD at bay.
Previous rumors suggested 2022’s Snapdragon 888 successor will be manufactured by TSMC instead of Samsung, by the way, but something tells us the world’s largest smartphone vendor can’t afford to completely break up with Qualcomm yet.
Like the vast majority of the overall best phones available in 2021, the Galaxy Note 20 and S21 families still use Snapdragon processors rather than their Exynos counterparts (in some regions), and we fully expect that to be the case for next year’s Galaxy S22 lineup as well.