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Qualcomm reveals Snapdragon 888 Plus 5G chipset

The new chipset boasts faster clock speeds and will boost AI performance on Android devices by 20%

Qualcomm announced a new mobile chipset today targeting high-end 5G mobile phones with faster clock speeds than its predecessor. 

The Snapdragon 888 Plus mobile chip is a higher-end version of the existing Snapdragon 888 platform. Qualcomm highlights enhancements to the chipset's artificial intelligence (AI) functionality with its sixth-generation AI engine. 

This gives the chip an over 20% boost in AI performance, providing 32 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of processing power, compared to the 26 TOPS in the standard 888 chipset. The upgraded performance will make the chip better at AI-enhanced effects, including noise cancellation and camera enhancement. 

Qualcomm says it has upgraded the Kryo 680 CPU used in the existing 888 platform design. The new version runs at up to 3GHz, compared to the 2.84GHz in the 888 chipset's CPU. 

Between them, the new platform and its predecessor will support around 130 devices that have already been announced or are in development, said Qualcomm, which has reportedly struggled to cope with demand for its semiconductors amid the general industry shortage. Those devices will hit the market in the third quarter of 2021. ASUS, HONOR, Motorola, and Xiaomi are among those that will ship devices using the new platform. 

In related news, Qualcomm also announced several new developments in 5G testing and deployment. These included a new 5G distributed unit accelerator card for virtual radio access networks (VRANs). 

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RANs are the interface between the handset and the core network they connect to. They are traditionally proprietary systems, but VRAN designs convert these to commodity hardware similar to how other network equipment has moved from proprietary hardware to x86-based appliances. 

Qualcomm also upgraded its 5G RAN platform for small cells, which serves the high-frequency, small-cell technologies that will extend 5G inside buildings and in smaller, hard-to-reach areas. It supports high-frequency, short-range millimeter wave technology and sub-6GHz 5G frequencies, which offer lower speeds but further reach. The new system supports version 16 of the 3GPP 5G standard. 

The world is seeing a resurgence in smartphone shipments as it emerges from the worst of the pandemic. Canalys has predicted a 12% increase in shipments in 2021, with 43% of those being 5G-capable units, up from 37% for Q1. Growth in the US will lag the global average at 6%. 

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