April 20, 2021


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Here’s the Secret to Qualcomm Snapdragon 888: Computing Photography is More Powerful

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At the end of the year, Qualcomm finally released its new generation of 8 series flagship chip, so far, the battle for the top processor in mobile phones has entered a heated stage.

Everyone has a 5nm chip, but snapdragon 888 has a different meaning. Both Apple A14 and Huawei Kirin 9000 are only used in their own mobile phones. Although Samsung Exynos 1080, its flagship chip, has begun to develop other mobile phone brands besides Samsung, it is still a freshman brand, and how it will develop in the future remains to be seen.

In contrast, Qualcomm snapdragon 8 is more stable along the way, as always, iterative upgrading, including some performance leaps, not to mention the lack of technological innovation. For OEM, choosing Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 as the core of their flagship can not only maintain the leading edge, but also relatively safe. Why not? That’s why on the night of snapdragon 888’s debut, a large number of mobile phone manufacturers announced that they would be the first to ship snapdragon’s new 5nm chip, indicating that people still have confidence and expectation for Qualcomm Snapdragon.

To get back to the point, Snapdragon 888 is an iteration of Snapdragon 865, but it does not use Qualcomm’s traditional nomenclature. In addition to its unique connotations, it is also associated with its disruptive technological improvements. For example, the performance upgrade brought by the introduction of Cortex-X1 super core, the connectivity upgrade brought by the integration of 5G modems, and the computing power of the post-fusion AI accelerator inflation. And, of course, the topic of today’s talk — Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 breakthrough in computing photography and important impact on the development of mobile imaging capabilities.


1.Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 will become a key link in promoting the evolution of computing photography

As we all know, Qualcomm is the world’s top chipmaker, but the rumor is often spread that Qualcomm is also a video technology company, which is easy to think of Snapdragon chip:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 is the first Snapdragon processor with 4K HDR video recording capability, enabling users to capture over a billion colors of video.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 brings the world’s first computer vision ISP. It supports advanced depth mapping, which adds a blurred background to 4K HDR video while recording it.

Qualcomm snapdragon 865 is the first snapdragon processor to have Giga-pixel processing speed. In addition, it can capture up to 200 megapixel photos, record 8K videos, unlimited slow-motion video and more.

In response, Qualcomm President Amon believes that the flagship smartphone innovation revolutionized one of the experience is photography. The ability to take photos on mobile phones is becoming so important that 61% of consumers say it affects their choice of phone. Qualcomm, on the other hand, has a long history of innovation in smartphone photography, which makes it possible for smartphones to capture more exciting content.

PJ Jacobowitz, senior product marketing manager at Qualcomm, also pointed out that it is these latest imaging features that have pushed the professional image quality of smartphones to a whole new level, bringing the most incredible imaging capabilities to smartphones. So, when a consumer has a snapdragon smartphone, it’s like having a professional “camera” in their pocket.

It is not difficult to find that the research and development proportion of computing photography in Qualcomm chips is constantly increasing. For Qualcomm itself, on the one hand, it is for the purpose of constantly surpassing itself and breaking through itself, so as to bring the best experience to consumers. On the other hand, it has spared no effort to promote the change and development of the industry, and is obviously more optimistic about the future of computational photography.

That reflect more on Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, compared to the past, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and a series of more advanced features, three new ISP, breakthrough processing speed, 3D algorithm of HDR, AI drive and so on, these technical breakthrough innovation, the computational photography to a higher level, also suggests that Snapdragon intentionally and more investment in computational photography technology, it will become the industry’s change perhaps a key cog.


2.Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 redefines the top-level shooting experience

Of course, whether Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 can promote the development of mobile image, we still need to see whether this time Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 image technology upgrade is really “breakthrough” and “innovative”.


1)Three ISP’s Qualcomm Spectra

ISP is the image signal processing unit, which is mostly integrated in the chip. Its main function is to do post-processing for the signal output from the front-end image sensor. It has the functions of noise reduction, color deviation repair, exposure correction, broken point repair, etc., and it is complementary with CMOS to determine the final image quality.

At present, most mobile processor platforms have an active interest in the development of ISPs. However, unlike other ISPs, when Spectra was first developed, it was not a single, built-in dual ISPs. This time, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 integrated with the Spectra 580, the first Spectra with three ISPs. In Qualcomm’s words, the performance upgrades brought by the three ISPs can bring professional image quality to a whole new level.

The performance upgrade brought by the triple ISP is significant in that it supports triple concurrency and triple parallel processing of the camera. Today, most of its flagship smartphone equipped with at least 3 rear cameras, each camera support ultra-wide angle, wide angle and telephoto lens, different triple concurrent will enable users to both and “independent” call three different camera videos, then generate three video files, or any combination of among them, and to ensure the quality of each a video is 4K HDR, or you can 3 pictures taken at the same time, each is 28 million pixels 30 FPS mode of zero shutter delay.

There is no doubt that the three-ISP design will also provide more feasible solutions for OEM to explore the camera potential, which will greatly enrich the shooting gameplay and imaging quality of smartphones. Meanwhile, for the photographer, especially vlogger, using three cameras filmed at the same time, only one action can obtain three different horizons and improve the efficiency of the phone, at the same time in the process of editing, video also further enriched material, which makes Vlog or a short video work more interesting and professional.

In addition, triple concurrency will also provide smoother switching between cameras as they zoom in and out. For example, on the double your ISP, if users start using wide angle camera, so no matter the next is to choose the super-wide or long, there will always be a lens is in a state of cold start, but after a three IPS, three-lens can keep on standby state, when a user call, then can be more smoothly on the switch to the need of the lens. It should be noted that under the triple concurrency, the three lenses are in hot startup rather than running at the same time, so the power consumption will also be restrained, which should not be too worrying for users.


2)2.7 billion pixels processing speed

In addition to using a three-ISP design, J. Jacobowitz says the Spectra Giga-pixel processing speed is the key to making pro – quality imagery. He says the Spectra is much faster than at other ISPs with megapixel processing speed.

In fact, even with Spectra 580, which is a 35% faster processor than Qualcomm’s previous generation ISP, it can process up to 2.7 billion pixels of video or images per second. This level of processing speed obviously gives the smart phone more powerful image processing ability, now under such speed of smart phones can realize two sensors in 64 million and 25 million pixels combination taken 30 FPS frame rate of video content at the same time, also can capture 120 frames within a second, and each frame is 12 million pixel level image quality, the present no mobile phone can do it, and carry the Qualcomm Snapdragon after 888, can easily implement, users every press can capture the most exciting moment.


3)Multiple exposure calculation HDR

In addition, Spectra 580 also supports single-frame line-by-line HDR, which outputs separate three channels of long, medium and short exposure data streams within one frame image, equivalent to three images with different details. Compared with current image sensors, only one image can be output, whereas a single frame of line-by-line HDR can output three images, all with details of different parts of bright or dark scenes.

Thanks to the ability of a single frame line-by-line HDR image sensor to output triple exposure images in a frame, Snapdragon 888 enables smartphones to compute HDR using multiple exposures during video and photo shooting. During the shoot, the Spectra 580 ISP improved image quality by calculating the HDR and combining multiple exposures from image sensors.

In the video shooting, 4K HDR and triple exposure single frame line by line HDR will enhance the dynamic range of the video and make the video content look more dynamic. Even in the case of insufficient light, we can still shoot video works with more details and less artifacts. At the same time, 4K and single-frame line-by-line HDR will also make video chat images more exciting, especially in challenging backlight scenes.


4)AI photography

If you want to take a professional-quality photograph, you must be accurate in definition, dynamic range and color. This is not difficult for professional photographers, but it is very difficult for people who like it as a hobby and most ordinary users.

This time, Qualcomm Spectra of 580 will be the first to launch our 10th generation of 3A algorithm, which is the first time by the AI can assign 3A algorithm, it will lead to the professional level of automatic focus, automatic exposure and automatic white balance, including framing, composition, focus, zoom, and so on more complex operations, have professional photos to wave for a quick, bring the real “easy” type camera experience.

Compared to today’s seemingly “intelligent” shooting experience, it’s clear that Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 will go a step further, bringing a true AI photography experience to the next generation of smartphones.

3.Innovation at the flagship level will change other levels in the future

It is not hard to see, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 came a series of exciting new features, Qualcomm Spectra of 580 for the first time to support new 3 ISP, has brought the breakthrough for video processing speed, the calculation of HDR, AI, etc., which means that the next generation of carrying Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 mobile platform the flagship of the mobile phone, will jump to a new height in the image, this is undoubtedly an expectation and exciting thing.

But then again, these new features are the abilities that only flagship machine might have, but for Qualcomm, obviously do not want to just stop there, from the flagship level, and promote to all mid-range level, provide more advanced, the innovation for global use of intelligent experience is Qualcomm has been hard and strive for goals.

This is not my own prediction. At the Qualcomm 2020 Technology Summit, Qualcomm CEO Amon emphasized that “innovation at the flagship level will change at other levels in the future. The ever-evolving experience has improved the lives of billions of smartphone users around the world. The flagship level is important for almost everyone.”

“But for these consumers, flagship features are not a ‘good choice’, flagship features are a necessity.” That’s why we’re building snapdragon 8 — to provide a more immersive and intelligent experience.”


Write in the end

At the end of the summit, at the end of many videos related imaging technologies, all of us can see the phrase: Your smartphone should be a “camera” capable of professional imaging. This clearly shows Qualcomm’s ardent hope for Snapdragon 888 and Qualcomm’s strong confidence in it.

There is no doubt that Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is actively promoting the evolution of the mobile video function, whether it is a brand new 3 ISP architectural design, or as high as 2.7 billion times the processing speed, or calculate the HDR photography, low light structure, etc., and AI is an innovation to the existing mobile phone video technology, but also to calculate a breakthrough in the future of photography to explore, it will change your mobile phone in the near future, at the same time will also change your mobile phone photography.

Once again that I couldn’t help think of Snapdragon 888 that the conventional naming, now that I think about it, it seems a little the meaning of “unexpected, but understandable”, after all, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 brought is not just disruptive changes in the history of computational photography, it is to implement the performance, connections, security, games, AI, and so on a full range of breakthrough. Although due to the limited time, we can’t fully analyze each and every item, but you don’t have to regret, after all, Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 model is already on the road, we will have more opportunities to experience and share the powerful side of this flagship chip with you in the future.

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