As you might have seen in our previous coverage of Snapdragon Summit, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was recently launched, and the specifications looked great. We had a chance to run benchmarks on Qualcomm’s development phones called MDP (Mobile Development Platform).

MDP devices are meant for general development and are typically not tuned for maximum performance. However, they look and feel like your typical high-end smartphone, so they provide an excellent consumer-level performance overview.

We’ve added the Galaxy S21 Ultra as a proxy for Snapdragon 888, and keep in mind that Snapdragon 888+ is only a bit faster. The Galaxy S20 Ultra will represent the Snapdragon 865 class of phones so that you can see the Snapdragon Evolution over time. We’ll go as far back as Snapdragon 855 in the form of the Galaxy S10+.

As usual, we’ll start looking at CPU (Geekbench) and GPU (GFXbench) performance as most consumers are most familiar with them.

Some benchmarks, such as PCMark for Android, typically don’t push performance limits but could be a good proxy if you aren’t a “power user.” I can tell you right away that this new Snapdragon performs very similarly to Snapdragon 888 in mundane tasks represented in PCMark.

The Geekbench CPU benchmark shows an ~12% performance gain over Snapdragon 888 in single and multithread tests. This test often represents apps that require sustained multi-core CPU usage, such as some video editors. However, more and more of these apps now rely on the GPU or AI processor for such tasks.

Browser-based benchmarks should yield results close to what Geekbench shows as they are also a proxy for CPU/memory performance.

The iPhone’s A15  Bionic does well and continues to dominate Geekbench, which is within what we expected based on the theoretical numbers. Apple’s overall SoC efforts have been nothing short of spectacular, but Qualcomm the next benchmarks show why Qualcomm is so competitive.


The GFXBench graphics test scores show how robust the new graphics architecture of Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is. Qualcomm has seemingly changed a lot of things but kept a close lid on details. That said, the outcome is +50%, +60%, or even +70% increase in observed graphics performance. The data shows a serious graphics performance discountinuity.

Games and VR applications are the primary beneficiaries of such speed-up. However, even if you don’t care much about higher framerates, you could cap the FPs to 30 and win big in power efficiency, and therefore battery life. That’s a big win for adventure or turn-by-turn 3D games

AR/XR applications will also benefit, so would any apps that use the GPU intensely like video compression, GPU physics, etc.

“Mixed” or “overall system” benchmarks should show progress in the order of 30-35% (over Snapdragon 888). It’s just because they use a weighted average of the CPU+GPU performance (+storage sometimes). I think it’s more interesting to see the individual pieces to understand where the changes come from.

From what I’ve seen during the benchmarking session, the AI performance boost in AITutu is as high as +150%. AI performance is not yet relatable to consumers because AI is traditionally a “spot usage” (spikes here and there) rather than sustained usage.


However, AI inclusion in all kinds of apps is climbing steadily, so it’s essential to watch these numbers. The rise of AI in video recording is my primary reason for being excited about such a drastic performance increase.

So far, these numbers would suggest that Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 could maintain Qualcomm’s position as the top Android SoC. The graphics and AI performance increases are outstanding and even unexpected. We’re looking forward to comparing it with the SoC competition.

The increase in CPU performance is modest, and the contrast between them illustrates that workloads like graphics and AI are much more scalable than CPU-based tasks.

Chip companies tend to keep vast and accurate data about “what apps do” in the form of application traces that can be run over and over during the architectural design and tune-up. I’m sure that Qualcomm has put resources where it brings the most value in the coming year: graphics and AI.

We now know what to expect from Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 consumer devices and are looking forward to testing the first units to be launched “this year” or early next year – perhaps around the CES timeframe in January.

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