The CPU and GPU performance and power efficiency have both improved with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. However, the camera hardware inside the processor has seen significant improvements, to the point where Qualcomm is introducing a new brand called Snapdragon Sight.
Snapdragon Sight uses a new 18-bit ISP
The Snapdragon Sight offers a number of professional-oriented features. This is due to a significant increase in throughput, which will benefit even casual users.
The 3.2 gigapixels per second can now be processed by the ISP (up from 2.7 gigapixels per second on the SD888). This implies it can take 240 12MP photographs per second, which is twice as fast as the Snapdragon 888 ISP. However, 12MP is no longer cutting it; when combined with a new 108MP sensor, the ISP can take full-resolution photos 30 times per second. It can also shoot 3x36MP at 30 frames per second if three cameras are attached at the same time. Burst mode will gain from this, but frame stacking will benefit as well.
The ISP was rebuilt by Qualcomm to operate at 18 bits per channel, up from 14 bits previously. This results in a 4 stop boost in dynamic range and improved HDR handling. Professionals can use every bit of data acquired by the picture sensor thanks to the chipset’s ability to export uncompressed 18-bit RAW for processing.
Video recording hardware has also been improved. The maximum resolution is still 8K at 30fps, but HDR capture (both HDR10 and HDR10+) is now supported. It also has the ability to do Electronic Image Stabilization. Additionally, while recording an 8K/30 movie, the user can take 64 MP photographs. Qualcomm also included a hardware engine that can render bokeh in 4K footage.
The Mega Multi-Frame Engine will improve phone night modes; it can blend up to 30 frames into a single image, compared to 6 frames previously, a 5x improvement (helped along by the new burst capability). Thanks to a dedicated piece of technology, Video Super-Resolution will boost the quality of digital zoom.
Qualcomm also teamed together with Leica to produce software that mimics the behavior of classic Leica lenses in the form of filters that faithfully recreate the look of photographs shot by those lenses. The extremely wide camera engine (which previously only handled dewarping the image) now also includes a chromatic aberration filter.
There’s much more to learn. AI has already been utilized for auto exposure and autofocus, and now it can recognize faces with greater speed and precision. It can recognize 300 face landmarks (twice as many as the previous chip), including lips, brows, and other features. The animation of the 3D animoji avatars will become significantly more precise and sophisticated as a result.
In fact, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 includes a fourth ISP. It’s a part of the third-generation Sensor Hub, and it allows for the always-on camera functionality. New face unlocks modes, as well as privacy features, will be available as a result of this. This ISP can recognize if you’re sharing your screen with someone else, for example, and turn off notifications on your phone. It can also identify when someone is peering behind your back, ensuring that only you see confidential information.
With an always-on camera, there are, of course, privacy problems, which Qualcomm is aware of. To begin with, no data from this ISP will escape the device, which is safeguarded by the Snapdragon chip’s unique security capabilities. OEMs will also be in charge of enabling or disabling this function and providing the user with suitable settings.
The AI engine on the new 8 Gen 1 processor will be able to perform four times as much work while using 70 percent less power. Mixed precision mode, which allows a neural network to blend INT8 and INT16 weights, will assist future AI models.