Qualcomm’s Snapdragon “8+ Gen 1” salvage operation moves chip to TSMC


The update to Qualcomm’s mid-cycle “plus” chip, the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, has been announced. As usual, Qualcomm is promising some modest improvements over the existing 8 Gen 1 chip. The company said the chip will provide “10 percent faster CPU performance,” thanks to a maximum CPU boost of 200 MHz (up to 3.2 GHz now) and a 10 percent faster GPU. The real surprise is a claim of “30 percent improved power efficiency” for the CPU and GPU.

For the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Plus, Qualcomm is moving the chip from Samsung Foundry to TSMC, which is apparently where the power improvements are coming from. That’s a serious knock against Samsung’s 4nm process versus TSMC’s 4nm process, but it lines up with previous reports of issues at Samsung Foundry.

Swapping out foundries as part of a mid-cycle update isn’t normal, and it looks like Qualcomm has a bit of a bailout on its hands with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. The chip hasn’t fared very well in the real world, with the CPU regularly dropping benchmark scores lower than the 2021 flagship Snapdragon 888.

For starters, Qualcomm doesn’t do much for phones year after year, and is regularly years behind Apple’s SoC team. Typically, the only reliable update Qualcomm can offer is a measurable percentage of baseline improvements. The GPU managed to improve by 2022, but seeing the CPU power drop after Qualcomm claimed it would be 20 percent faster is a huge disappointment. After a casting change and CPU MHz increase, Qualcomm’s 2022 CPU could finally be faster than its 2021 counterpart.

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