back to article Four or so things we found interesting about Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888, its latest 5G chip for high-end Androids

Qualcomm this week unveiled the Snapdragon 888, its latest flagship system-on-chip destined to power next year's top-end Android smartphones. It's usually around this time of the year the US giant tears the covers off another Snapdragon 800-series part, such as the 865 in 2019. The 888 is a continuation of this series. Here …

  1. Timto

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY

  2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
    Holmes

    I must admit...

    I very much like the idea of having personal and business on separate VMs since you should never mix work with pleasure... But how long before Android (because let's be honest that's where the vast majority of these chips will goto) supports such this?

    It'd be cool to see this on a Gemini type phone device though - having Linux for business and android for pleasure without having to restart would be quiet the boon.

    I await to see how well this takes off but it'd probably be a year or so before we see it used in anger.

    1. Brad Ackerman
      Flame

      Re: I must admit...

      It'd be cool to see this on a Gemini type phone device though - having Linux for business and android for pleasure without having to restart would be quiet the boon.

      Maybe something like Gemini that actually provides software updates. Planet can't be bothered to patch at all; they'll happily sell you a £600 device with a two-year-old OS that will never get an update. Holier than Swiss cheese out of the box and it will only get worse.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: I must admit...

        Hush you, with your facts and hard reality.

        I mean HTC used to have an awesome phone with the Desire Z but it's been a long time since then. That would be good to revive.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I must admit...

      Only a hypervisor exploit from all your work stuff being sneakily leaked out via your personal VM. No way that should pass a security review in a business.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I must admit...

        It's better than what you get today (unless you have separate devices).

        If they do something like qubes-os.org, it would be pretty awesome.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: I must admit...

      Samsung Knox and Android Work Profiles.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I must admit...

      I'll have a cluster of these please. In a little box I can sit on my desk.

      Thx.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    5nm engraving, wow

    It would appear Murphy's Law is not dead just yet. That a tiny chip like that can handle multiple 4K videos is nothing short of amazing, but I have just one question : how can you watch multiple 4K videos on a mobile phone screen ?

    Maybe they'll also put it in tablets ?

    1. cd

      Re: 5nm engraving, wow

      Murphy's Law tried to die, but Murphy's Law intervened and the attempt failed.

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: 5nm engraving, wow

      "how can you watch multiple 4K videos on a mobile phone screen ?"

      One phone to cast to them all.

      (To be honest I don't understand this articles details, or indeed many now. I feel like I'm stuck on a sunless planet in a heat death universe watching a spaceship passing over. I'm happy to see it but I know it's not coming to my rescue.)

      1. ClockworkOwl
        Thumb Up

        Re: 5nm engraving, wow

        Thanks, I just relaxed a little.

        No need to pretend you get it, things have officially "moved on".

        "...it just kept on going... And so castles made of sand..."

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: 5nm engraving, wow

          Thanks Clockwork Owl,

          An hour later and I still can't figure out if Murphy's Law trumps Moore's Law, or if the jokes are just whooshing over me. I'm going back to XKCD where I know it's a joke.

          1. EnviableOne Silver badge

            Re: 5nm engraving, wow

            Murphys golden rule trumps all.

            so Jeff makes the rules

  4. matjaggard

    Looks a bit crap now we've seen Apple's effort

    Now that we've seen what ARM cores are capable of in a proper computer, all of this looks a bit mediocre. Reviews of the Mac Mini M1 have been almost universally positive and meanwhile this is just another minor update.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "all of this looks a bit mediocre"

      I have to say that does appear to be the case. Apple's set the gold standard in what's possible with Arm CPU design - from big caches to large reordering buffers to optimizations for reference-counting-heavy code.

      I didn't want to call it until outside benchmarks and tests are available. And I still totally appreciate that this level of chip, the 888, takes a lot of patience, skill and time to develop. It appears Qualcomm's poured a lot of that effort into things like the camera capture processing and GPU/AI in hope that that makes up for where it doesn't match Apple's A14.

      C.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Looks a bit crap now we've seen Apple's effort

      It should still be remembered that the M1 has a few advantages that this does not. The M1 gets to go in laptops, where it can get more power for longer from the larger battery, while this will go into phones, where the batteries are anemic or ill-designed. The same difference also means that the M1 has an easier way to handle heat production; even in the fanless MacBook Air, the large metal plate under it can work well enough as a heat sink. Phones won't get that. For those reasons, this chip has to spend more time on heat management and providing low-power cores so they can get used for the comparatively easy tasks that phones get asked to do. For the same reason, the A14 cores in the iPhone are clocked lower (and there are half as many fast ones) as the M1.

      A comparison may help. For Pi fans, Qualcomm's chip is a lot like the SOC in the Raspberry Pi 4, which overheats often without assistance, whereas the M1 is like the higher speed version in the Pi 400, which gets a large heat dissipation plate. The Pi foundation could afford to clock that up (and so can a user) while the original Pi kept automatically clocking down, even though the base rate was lower.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Looks a bit crap now we've seen Apple's effort

      It might be interesting to consider how Qualcomm decide which features to research. How does it predict which end applications will become desirable amongst users? If it listens to phone vendors, which ones? Or does it conduct its own research into user trends? Or does Google lay out what it expects a 2023 mobile phone to do, and Qualcomm works towards that?

      Qualcomm's situation in this regard must be very different from that of Apple, who appear to make plans and deliver them with a software hardware combo.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Looks a bit crap now we've seen Apple's effort

        It might be interesting to consider how Qualcomm decide which features to research. How does it predict which end applications will become desirable amongst users?

        Using AI ?

  5. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

    In theory very nice.

    Best value though is to buy Asian 4G phones and put them on a 5G sim only. EE are doing 200GB sims for £20 now.

    Not sure I need 5G in my life yet. I need a 5000mAh battery, 4G+ and 30W charging.

  6. tip pc Silver badge

    How far behind Apple are they now?

    Qualcomm appear to be the best of the rest but still seem behind the A14 and M1.

    Meanwhile Apple are clearly aiming at besting the x86 crowd with their ARM chippery.

    If M$ decide to let windows run on Apple silicon then the X86 world will truly be turned on its arse.

    I can’t see M$ being excited to want to run windows on this 888.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: How far behind Apple are they now?

      Existing Windows on ARM systems have primarily been using Qualcomm's CPUs already. While those have mostly been chips that use more power than the 888, I can't see a reason Microsoft would prevent an OEM trying to use it. It's possible that there are other reasons why chips at that level don't get used for Windows, but I doubt it's because MS cares too much.

  7. heyrick Silver badge

    And yeah, sure, 888 represents Jesus in Christian numerology, too

    To British people, 888 means subtitles.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 888 Subtitles

      Many years ago in my BBC engineering days I built a very simple device which interfaced between the automation playout system and a keyer* which used to switch the '888' or 'subitles' graphic on on the symbol into the programme.

      It was called the 888-o-matic (with a nod to Wallace and Gromit)

      *a device which allows you to cut a hole in one picture and fill the hole with another - often the hole and fill were practically the same when text was involved.

  8. MOV r0,r0

    A line of 8's can also mean lots of goodbye where 88 is used in place of 拜拜

    1. EnviableOne Silver badge

      also bad conotations 88=HH

      1. Piro

        It's also two fat ladies. Let's steer clear of invoking Godwin's Law.

  9. TeeCee Gold badge
    Coat

    "Qualcomm didn't want to define the O in TOPS..."

    Obviously it's "Ovine" and the metric is in vacuum sheep-miles per second.

  10. EnviableOne Silver badge

    if samsung are making this, cant ait to see the inprovements in the next gen Exynos

  11. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    But is it practical?

    Recent phones using the Qualcomm 865 with 5G have made great sacrifices to support the chipset's bulk and power. The headphone jack is gone, the microSd slot is gone, dual SIM is gone, there's not much onboard storage, and the phone is too big for pockets. It's all chipset, battery, and cameras.

    I went with an upper mid-range model on my last phone because a super-fast chip with little else wasn't going to be useful.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: But is it practical?

      I'm not sure that's true. I did a search on a phone database. Of the 60 known devices with the 865 or 865+, 53 (all but 7) have dual SIM, 16 have 3.5 mm jacks, a different 16 have micro SD card slots, and 3 have all of those features. I don't think it's the SOC that means you don't often see all those features together.

    2. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

      Re: But is it practical?

      No headphone jack = Not buying the phone. My feelings on this will never change.

      I know they've been trying to force this change onto consumers for years now, because selling £50 "upgraded" headphones is more profitable than £10 headphones from Amazon.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: But is it practical?

        Yup. In a month or so my current contract runs out and will need renewal. That's the time I can pick up a reasonable phone discounted.

        I'm currently looking at a Samsung S10, after hitting gsmarena and looking at the specs. No 3.5mm jack? Next!

        On rainy weekends, I listen to music and/or watch movies. The battery in my Bluetooth headphones runs for the 3ish hours it takes to do the mowing. It's not up to a Sunday of doing Sweet Fanny Adams. Or listening in bed when I can't sleep (ear buds so I can lie on my side). The jack socket is non negotiable. No socket, no interest, end of discussion.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: But is it practical?

          The Gakaxy S10 E has a headphone socket. It is also easier to fit screen protectors to, since the edges aren't curved and the finger print sebdir isn't under the screen.

          Alternatively, just keep a USB C > 3.5mm attached to your headphones.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: But is it practical?

      The recent phones often have high refresh rate, high resolution screens, which eat battery.

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