Qualcomm has just introduced its Snapdragon 888 Plus at MWC 2021 in Barcelona on Monday, June 28. Like the Snapdragon 860 and 870, the high-end SoC features little new from the base version but is expected to be more powerful.
- Snapdragon 888 Plus' main core is clocked at 3GHz.
- The Snapdragon 888 Plus is expected to be 20% faster for AI calculations.
- Honor is expected to be the first manufacturer to debut the SoC on the Honor 50 Pro+.
So during its opening keynote at MWC 2021 in Barcelona, Qualcomm, among other things, made its high-end Snapdragon 888 Plus SoC official. Being an overclocked version of the base Snapdragon 888, we shouldn't have expected much new.
Adreno 660 GPU, Snapdragon X60 5G modem with a maximum downlink rate of 7.5 Gbps and the FastConnect 6900 that allows you to use all the latest Wi-Fi standards. As you can see, the recipe hasn't really changed. We're still on a 5 nm manufacturing process and an octa-core structure built around an ARM Cortex-X1 main core that this time is clocked at up to 3GHz (or 2.995GHz, to be precise).
Qualcomm also mentions that its Hexagon 780 AI processor is now capable of 32 TOPS compared to 26 on the base Snapdragon 888 (Teraflops per second, a unit that is supposed to indicate SoC performance that has nothing to do with Teraflops).
Beware of the hype around the Snapdragon 888+
The 888 Plus will be on board new high-end Android smartphones from the second half of this year, with manufacturers Asus, Motorola, Vivo and Xiaomi all involved. Honor should be the first to inaugurate it with its Honor 50 Pro+, about which we don't know much for now, or even if it will be released in Europe.
In any case, this iteration only brings incremental improvements, so we shouldn't get too hyper. Apart from the higher clock speed on the main core which is not negligible, we will not benefit from any boost on the GPU level.
The history of TOPS is also not very indicative of notable progress over the base Snapdragon 888. The TOPS are a single operation specific metric and it doesn't give us a concrete idea of how efficient the chip is in real world use.
Especially since this performance gain is only for the computing unit dedicated to AI. It is possible that this 20% increase in performance is achieved on very specific tasks whose recurrence and frequency are not known. It's not as if our everyday applications require large deep learning resources, except for some very niche cases.
In any case, we'll wait until we have an Android smartphone with this "new" SoC and submit it to various benchmarks to see if the Snapdragon 888+ brings enough performance to not be anecdotal.