Qualcomm is already working to bring its next top-of-the-line smartphone chip to market, after the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1: here's what we can expect and why
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, i.e. the 2022 top-of-the-line smartphone chip, was unveiled on December 1 and still no product using it has arrived on the market (Motorola Edge X30 should be the first), but already the first rumors about its successor, the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip (which could also be called Snapdragon 8 gen 1+) are starting to circulate.
Of the new chip we still know very little, but we can already assume a lot looking at the recent history of Qualcomm chips that, for some years, presents in December the chip for the following year and then, a few months later, brings to market the "Plus" version. The latter, which in the case of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 should be called 8 Gen 2 or 8 Gen 1+, is usually identical to the previous one but has higher working frequencies and, therefore, more power, more consumption and more heat produced. This commercial strategy could be confirmed even in 2022 and a technical step allows us to guess when the "Plus" version of Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 will arrive.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: goodbye Samsung, we switch to TSMC
The current Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is engineered by Qualcomm, but physically produced by Samsung with a 4 nm process, very modern but not at the top of efficiency. This means that Qualcomm had to keep low with the working frequencies, in order to avoid that many of the chips produced later turn out to be malfunctioning.
In May, according to several rumors coming from the Far East, Qualcomm will move the production of its top-of-the-line chip from Samsung's facilities to those of TSMC, which are currently busy producing Apple's chips and those of MediaTek (the Dimensity 9000, direct competitor of 8 Gen 1).
As is well known among electronics industry experts, TSMC also has 4nm production lines, but the process is more refined and efficient. Simply translated: with the switch from Samsung's factories to TSMC's, Qualcomm will be able to produce the same chip, but one that "holds" higher frequencies.
Here's the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, or 8 Gen 1+ if you prefer.
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and 8 Gen 2: no difference?
If this reasoning turns out to be correct, then, the only difference between the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 top-of-the-line in the first half of 2022 and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 (or 8 Gen 1+) in the second half will be in the working frequency.
This is not the only hypothesis on the table, because there could be other small differences as well, but it is the most likely for many reasons. The first one is economic: designing a chip costs money, so once you launch it on the market you have to "squeeze" it as much as possible.
Then there is the chip crisis, which discourages everyone from trying the way of a new chip, just while it is very difficult to produce in a short time, and in good quantities, the chips that have already been developed.
Finally there is the variable Apple, that lately has an almost exclusive relationship with TSMC, the only company in the world at the moment able to produce such sophisticated chips without filling up with scraps.
In the second half of 2022, we remind you, TSMC will be busy producing the A16 chips for the iPhone 14 and will not have much free production capacity for other customers. A truly new Qualcomm chip, then, is very likely to arrive around this time since not enough could be produced to pay for the project quickly.