Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adds Ray Tracing

Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Adds Ray Tracing

Accompanying the launch of the new flagship Snapdragon are game titles employing its marquee new graphics feature, ray tracing. SoC-architecture updates promise better-looking pictures.
Joseph Byrne
Joseph Byrne

Qualcomm’s new premium-smartphone processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, delivers substantial CPU, GPU, and AI speedups and new capabilities. Featuring new cores and faster clocks, we estimate CPU performance should be 27% greater than the 8 Gen 1’s. For gamers, the biggest upgrade is hardware ray tracing. Shutterbugs will see image and video quality improve because the image signal processor (ISP) can now loop-in AI functions without OS intervention. New connectivity features include Wi Fi 7 and dual-radio Bluetooth.

Snapdragon 8 appears in nearly all Android flagship smartphones, making Qualcomm the standard-bearer for new features. Although Samsung’s Exynos 2200 beat that chip to market with ray-tracing hardware, application support was absent. The new Snapdragon, however, launches with the support of game makers and smartphone OEMs. At the 8 Gen 2’s November introduction, ray-tracing games were either available or in beta testing, including War Thunder and Justice Online. Qualcomm expects its OEM customers to launch with ray-tracing titles as well. Initial smartphones using the 8 Gen 2 should arrive by year-end.

Computational photography, including AI, has proven essential to burnishing smartphone image quality. Flagship Qualcomm processors power most of the Android phones at the top of camera-rating company DXOMark’s list, duking it out with Google’s Tensor G2 in the Pixel 7 and various iPhones. Given access to raw data in the image-processing pipeline rather than to processed images, the 8 Gen 2 should produce better pictures with less lag. Additionally, Snapdragon’s AI performance increases because Qualcomm doubled the tensor unit’s size and added INT4 support.

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