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

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Qualcomm

Qualcomm’s mid-cycle “Plus” chip refresh – 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 offer “10 percent faster CPU performance” thanks to a 200MHz peak CPU boost (up to 3.2GHz) and a 10 percent faster GPU. The real shocker is the claim of “30 percent improved energy 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 performance improvements are coming from. That’s a serious blow to Samsung’s 4nm process compared to TSMC’s 4nm process, but it’s consistent with previous reports on this problems at Samsung Foundry.

Swapping out foundries as part of a mid-cycle upgrade isn’t normal, and it seems Qualcomm has some sort of salvage operation on its hands with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. The chip didn’t fare very well in the real world CPU regularly screw in lower benchmark scores than the 2021 flagship Snapdragon 888.

Qualcomm doesn’t do too much for phones initially, and is regularly years behind Apple’s SoC team. Typically, the only reliable upgrade Qualcomm can deliver is a measurable percentage of benchmark improvements. The GPU could improve for 2022, but CPU performance fell after Qualcomm claimed it would 20 percent faster is a big disappointment. After a foundry change and a CPU MHz boost, Qualcomm’s 2022 CPU could finally be faster than its 2021 counterpart.

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