Recently, Qualcomm released its new generation of mobile processors under the unified brand name of “Snapdragon 8 Gen1”. As the flagship product of Qualcomm, it was released before and after MediaTek Dimensity 9000, which claims to have set the top ten world records (Recommended reading: Twenty-year bumpy Zhaoan Road, the king of copycats, MediaTek is still difficult to enter the room), naturally those who have good things will do both. Compare and see who is the strongest third-party mobile phone master chip on the surface.
The traditional skill of the flagship product is the limit stack parameter, regardless of whether it is good or not, it is not practical, and everything that is conducive to publicity will be piled up first. Although MediaTek ran away in the release time, some of its world records that it claims were brushed into former world records by Qualcomm. For example, 8K video support, MediaTek Dimensity 9000 only supports 8K video playback, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 directly supports 8K video recording; another example is the communication speed, MediaTek Dimensity 9000 can achieve 7Gbps, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 can achieve 10Gbps. Even the Antutu scores, it is said that the Dimensity 9000, which broke one million for the first time, will almost no longer be able to cover it, so it is no wonder that MediaTek is going to run, and it is impossible to promote it without running.
Both are the beneficiaries of Huawei’s sanctions. How to compete for market share of Chinese manufacturers has obviously become the winner of the competition. Qualcomm seems to be slightly better in its attitude towards Chinese customers. Although it is a US company, the product release link is synchronized. Setting up a branch venue in Sanya, China, the release time was not like that of MediaTek Dimensity 9000, which chose a more comfortable time for American audiences. Chinese media had to wake up early in the morning to listen to the conference. However, it is said that MediaTek has been doing good things and will launch another release in China, but this release may not be the top ten in the world.
Of course, this time I’m not talking about how well Qualcomm and MediaTek’s parameter indicators stack up, but want to discuss the pros and cons of the mobile phone’s main chip limit stack parameters, as well as the development of mobile phone chips in addition to the stack parameters. Do you have other options.
After Qualcomm released the first generation of Snapdragon 8, industry expert Liang Ying (pseudonym) commented on social media: 10Gbps downlink transmission rate, 8K video camera, 18bit ISP, a series of ultra-high indicators really attract attention. But think rationally, is it necessary for mobile phones to be equipped with such ultra-high indicators? Judging from the actual effect, apart from a substantial increase in power consumption, the increase in mobile phone memory and memory card capacity does not have much practical significance. Deviating from the laws of nature and actual needs, excessively increasing the performance of consumer Electronic devices, in addition to consuming more energy, the actual benefits to users are not obvious. World-class companies should have a sense of social responsibility and must reflect on what new technologies developed with great effort can bring to mankind?
Liang Ying’s comments touched on a common problem in the development of chip products, that is, over design (Over Design) or imposed requirements (Scope Creeping). Because they are unable to accurately grasp consumer needs or related specifications, R&D personnel have to raise the design indicators so that they are out of actual needs when defining products, or create functions that most users do not need. As Liang Ying said, this limit is higher. Or superfluous, from the perspective of the entire industry, it is undoubtedly a waste of resources.
But specific to each company, even if it recognizes that there is a problem of over-design and imposing demand, it is often that even if it feels helpless, it has to follow this game of chasing limit indicators. The reason is nothing more than the following:
First of all, from the perspective of the product definer, the so-called flagship product is usually a collection of over-design and imposing requirements. The indicators are all set to the highest achievable level. All the functions should be added or not. The indicators do not matter whether they are appropriate or not. Only consider whether it is good or not in publicity. Flagships, how can they sell so expensive without over-designing?
Secondly, mainstream smartphone manufacturers introduce at least one new flagship product every year, and expect that the user replacement cycle will not exceed two years. Then when the product form enters a mature period and few new features appear, the product manager has to urge R&D personnel to improve the current situation. Functional indicators are used as a selling point. At this time, it is often irrelevant whether the setting of specific indicators is reasonable.
Third, no matter how close the third-party mobile phone chip manufacturer and the whole machine factory are to cooperate closely, “parameter loss” is inevitable. Unlike Apple and the previous Huawei, which can truly tailor the whole machine product, in order to adapt to the needs of different manufacturers. For R&D capabilities, third-party mobile phone chip companies have to raise some parameters.
Fourth, when competitors are doing this, not following means launching into the mainstream market.
And in the exchange, I found that many professionals with a background in R&D do not think that over-design is a problem. Most of them believe that it is currently regarded as an ultra-high index, and it will become a standard configuration in the future. It is necessary to look at the problem of limit reactor parameters from a development perspective.
Taking 18-bit ISP (Image Signal Processor) as an example, ISP expert Song Guomin (pseudonym) said that 18-bit ISP for consumer electronics is a normal choice. The current mobile phone camera imaging cannot reach the limit of the human eye. The insufficient dynamic range is one of the main reasons. Increasing the ISP data bit width can effectively increase the dynamic range. The camera used in the intelligent driving function of a car usually requires a dynamic range of not less than 140dB, so the ISP data bit width cannot be less than 24 bits. Although mobile phone image processing does not require a 24-bit ISP, ISPs that use 18-bit or higher bit widths in other fields are not new. For example, Apical (acquired by Arm) has adopted a 20-bit data width for surveillance ISPs a few years ago. calculate.
Another mobile phone chip ISP expert Sun Ming (a pseudonym) also said that the flagship ISP module currently under development is no less than 18 bits wide, and the high bit width ISP can improve the shooting effect of night scenes or shooting scenes under lighting. From the implementation level, the single-exposure image of the mobile phone camera can achieve 12-bit, through HDR (High Dynamic Range Algorithm) 3 frame synthesis, plus 8 times the exposure ratio, just reach 18-bit. “On the mobile phone, the current 18 is almost the limit, no matter how high it is, it will be slogans, which has no effect.”
In addition, both experts said that image sensor technology has developed rapidly, and the bottleneck is now in processing and transmission. Song Guomin said: “The mobile ISP can’t keep up, and the MIPI interface can’t keep up. This is a pain point.”
Song Guomin emphasized that because 8450 (the first generation of Snapdragon 8 engineering code) is tailor-made for flagship mobile phones, the current configuration is very reasonable and not over-designed. Its specifications have been demonstrated at least a year ago whether it can be engineered and verified the industry. Can mass products be built on the chain? He said: “If the 8450 specification is used on a 1000-yuan machine with a volume, I don’t think it is worth it, but it is a flagship, and it always takes everyone forward, right?”
Of course, Song Guomin also mentioned that compared with the current products under development, the 8450 index is not radical in terms of specifications. Some products that have been defined since this year have more exaggerated parameter indexes. But the cost of heap parameters is not low. Taking the 8450 integrated 18-bit ISP as an example, the area of the three ISPs is close to the size of the GPU. He said: “This is a huge ISP, which means that mobile phone innovation is also involved.”
Song Guomin believes that the biggest challenge of the 8450 lies in power consumption. Whether it is high-bit wide ISP, 8K video shooting or 10Gbps download, these functions are large power consumers. “It would be too embarrassing if it became a fireball of a generation.”
In fact, Song Guomin and Liang Ying reached an agreement on this point. Liang Ying criticized the starting point of some manufacturers’ limit reactor parameters also in power consumption and resources. All over-design and imposing requirements are also concepts that are only established under resource constraints. If there are no resource constraints, the parameters can naturally be pushed infinitely. .
Many people use the conversion of 3G to 4G communication to illustrate the importance of download speed upgrades, but in fact, after crossing a step, the benefits of increasing the parameters will drop seriously. For example, the motivation for users to upgrade from 4G to 5G is obviously insufficient. Moreover, the Snapdragon 8 heap parameters are a consideration for the resource consumption of its own products, and the resource consumption of the heap parameters on the whole product, and even the resource consumption of the entire system. The pressure of the 200 million pixel sensor is not only to the ISP, but also to the subsequent processing and transmission. When only the flagship machine uses such an ultra-high parameter product, the impact on the network system may not be obvious, but it really sinks. After the low-end machine, have you really considered the impact of the entire network storage, bandwidth and power consumption, as a terminal chip developer?
Of course, does considering resource depletion mean stopping when defining parameter indicators? Of course not. Comprehensive consideration of system resource constraints requires R&D personnel to jump out of the path dependence of single-direction stacking parameters and constantly try new methods to break the “mature model”. Once a breakthrough, it means a new development path and a new “sweetness of innovation”. Expect”.
Just like in the era of petrol cars, every manufacturer is struggling to accelerate from 100 kilometers, and every increase of 1 second can tell the world. After Tesla and other pure electric vehicles accelerate 100 kilometers directly into less than 5 seconds, petrol car manufacturers will Not many are still in love with this indicator; just like the era of Pentium, Intel has been pushing the processor clock speed, and has always benefited from the market’s acceptance of high clock speeds, but the Pentium IV, which has pushed up the clock speed to the limit, has encountered power consumption control. Intel, which failed miserably but changed course in time, ushered in another “sweet period of innovation.”
At that time, Intel had not yet been called a toothpaste factory.