Qualcomm infuses AI support into Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3 platform

Boosted on-device generative AI's not just for the flagship smartphone kids

Qualcomm is pushing out its second smartphone platform within a week, in this case an extension of its Snapdragon 7 series for high-end devices that are built to a lower price point than flagship premium smartphones.

The Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3 is, according to Qualcomm branding, a step up in features from the Snapdragon 7 Gen 3 introduced late last year, and billed as the "most powerful Snapdragon 7 series yet."

Inevitably, this means it has on-device generative AI capabilities that the US chips and telecoms biz is infusing across its smartphone platforms, but also a boost in both CPU and GPU performance, plus Wi-Fi 7 support.

"Today, we embark on the latest expansion in the 7-series to create new levels of entertainment for consumers – integrating next-generation technologies for richer experiences," Qualcomm's SVP of mobile handsets Chris Patrick said in a canned statement.

The claimed 15 percent hike in CPU performance and 45 percent in GPU performance is relative to the Snapdragon 7+ Gen 2, released a year ago, however.

Features that Qualcomm claims to have "waterfalled" down from the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 series include the generative AI support, thanks to the company's Hexagon neural processing unit (NPU), plus the triple 18-bit image signal processors to support camera functions.

Qualcomm demonstrated that phones based on its chippery could handle a 7 billion parameter large language model (LLM) at phone fest Mobile World Congress earlier this year, and the company says this platform supports models including Baichuan-7B, Llama 2, Gemini Nano and Zhipu ChatGLM.

And if "crushing to-do lists" is your thing, Qualcomm claims that AI-powered virtual assistants supported by this platform will help you do that.

The Kryo CPU block inside Snapdragon 7+ Gen 3 has the 1-4-3 arrangement of one "Prime" core, four Performance cores and three Efficiency cores seen in Snapdragon 8, but at lower clock speeds. Thus the Cortex-X4 "Prime" is 2.8 GHz, while the other two tiers are 2.6 GHz and 1.9 GHz.

For buyers that are into their mobile games, other features added to this platform include Qualcomm's Snapdragon Game Post Processing Accelerator and the Adreno Frame Motion Engine 2, the latter of which is claimed to enhance the frame rate without draining power.

As with the Snapdragon 8 series, the Adreno GPU on this platform is able to drive a 4K on-device display at up to 60Hz and up to an 8K external display.

For connectivity, this platform has the same Snapdragon X63 5G Modem-RF System as the baseline Snapdragon 7 announced last year, which means it is capable of downlink speeds of up to 4.2 Gbps on 5G networks, rather than the 5 Gbps or 10 Gbps supported by the Snapdragon 8 series.

Wi-Fi is delivered by the same FastConnect 7800 subsystem, however, which seems to have become Qualcomm's standard for all its smartphone platforms. This offers Wi-Fi 7, support for the 6GHz, 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands, and a peak speed of 5.8 Gbps.

Smartphone makers including OnePlus, Realme, and Sharp are expected to bring devices to market sometime in the next few months. ®

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