Qualcomm is updating what used to be its Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 400 series in preparation for 2023. These new Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 chips are destined to power mid-range and entry-level smartphones, respectively.
It is a “generational” architecture upgrade, and both the logic and the manufacturing have vastly improved, along with performance and power efficiency, especially for Snapdragon 6 Gen 1.
Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
This chip is manufactured with a 4nm semiconductor process, although it’s not clear if Samsung or TSMC is the foundry behind it. Qualcomm has pursued a diversification strategy of its supply chain so that it could be either, but we don’t know for now. For now, the momentum is shifting towards TSMC, however.
Qualcomm has doubled the number of high-performance A78 CPU cores, so you should expect much higher peak CPU performance. The company talks about a 40% improvement, which is very significant.
In turn, the number of power-efficiency cores has gone from 6 to 4, but we’re waging that the change will not have a sizeable impact on battery life because the four cores should be able to handle background and minute tasks with ease.
A 35% graphics performance is also in the cards, but the details on the GPU are few. It seems to be a cost-reduced derivative of the latest graphics architecture, but more technical information might be available later.
Qualcomm upgraded the integrated modem to the Qualcomm X62 (from the X51), which offers many features in the more expensive X65 modem. However, its carrier-aggregation performance is slightly lower, probably to reduce cost.
The Snapdragon 6 Gen 1’s Spectra image processor (ISP) now supports 4K/30 HDR video, which was not previously available in that market.
Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
The Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 succeeds the Snapdragon 480 and brings more modest performance improvements. Qualcomm mentions +15% in CPU speed and 10% in graphics performance. Most of the CPU speed boost probably is due to upgrading to an A78 core design (the A76), as the RAM bandwidth is identical.
Again, there are few details on the graphics architecture, not even the frequencies. The only hint that it is a new architecture is the presence of VRS (Variable Rate Shading), which we explained in our Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 overview.
This hardware platform is manufactured using a 6nm semiconductor process from TSCM, which is significantly smaller than the previous 8nm process at Samsung Semiconductors. As usual, this will help the cost-efficiency of these chips, giving Qualcomm more pricing flexibility.
The wireless specs haven’t changed much, but it is still a 5G chip, and Bluetooth has gone to 5.2 from 5.1 previously.
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