2023-2024 imaging flagship, why do you choose it?

The third-generation Snapdragon 8 mobile platform was released in October, which brought about a huge chain reaction: Android flagship phones were released one after another in the fourth quarter of this year, both in terms of price and product strength, and the competition was extremely fierce. Even when some mobile phones are released, you will have questions: Can this machine make money?

▲Realme GT5 Pro lens module

For example, the ultra-cost-effective flagship mobile phone Realme GT5 Pro released some time ago provides extremely sincere configurations in its price range of over 3,000 yuan:

  • The third generation of Snapdragon 8 mobile platform (Snapdragon 8 Gen3)
  • Starting configuration of 12+256GB
  • Up to 4500nits brightness, an unparalleled screen jointly developed with BOE
  • 100W wired + 50W wireless charging
  • Ceiling-level telephoto composed of Snapdragon 8 Gen3 + IMX890 + ArcSoft algorithm

Wait, why does Snapdragon 8 Gen3 appear twice?

SoC not only has CPU and GPU, but also ISP and so on.

More than ten or twenty years ago, when we talked about chips, we basically defaulted to CPUs. However, the idea that chips are approximately equal to CPUs has long been outdated, because large chips have developed into SoC (System on Chip) with the same platform, and there are many types of small chips. Those responsible for power management, those responsible for screen display, etc.

When we talk about SoC, we tend to focus on the CPU and GPU. After all, they contribute the most to benchmarking games.

However, life is more than eating and sleeping, and mobile phones are more than benchmarking games. When we raise the phone, open the camera to view the view, press the shutter, then get a photo, and then upload it to a social network, in this short process, the SoC is almost " "Multi-department collaboration", using a lot of modules.

Inside the SoC, there are many other parts that are not involved in benchmarking software but are crucial.

Take the recently released Snapdragon 8 Gen3 as an example. Its composition is quite complex. In addition to the CPU responsible for general computing and the GPU for graphics computing, there is also an NPU and AI engine mainly responsible for AI computing, a modem responsible for 5G connection, and FastConnect mobile connection system for Wi-Fi, Snapdragon Listen for audio, software and hardware combination for security, and ISP for image signal processing, etc.

ISP (Image Signal Processor) is one of the reasons why Snapdragon 8 Gen3 can appear repeatedly in the Realme GT5 Pro configuration list.

▲ Schematic diagram of ISP operation, picture from CSDN

Having a good lens and a good image sensor is not enough. ISP is also needed to convert what the lens sees and what the sensor receives into what the screen can display and what the human eye can see.

This process is quite complicated. First, the light passes through the lens and enters the photosensitive area of ​​the image sensor. The sensor undergoes photoelectric conversion to obtain the original image in Bayer format, that is, the image with the suffix .raw. The original image in Bayer format is then processed by ISP. , output the spatial domain image data to the subsequent video interface unit, and then supply it to the screen for display. The ISP's role is to optimize, enhance and process the image and video signals captured from the phone's camera, as well as manage the sensor interface and subsequent processing of the image data.

The process is like a converter connecting the imaging system to the display system, but the ISP does a lot of work, including but not limited to image quality improvement, such as color enhancement, white balance adjustment; and noise reduction processing, which is particularly important in night scene shooting. Crucially, without a powerful ISP to reduce noise and particles, the night scenes of current flagship phones will be very blurry; in addition, it includes multi-frame synthesis behind HDR shooting, slow-motion shooting, panoramic mode stitching, etc.

In addition, the low threshold for mobile photography also relies on the contribution of ISP. Many people may not be able to take a clear photo when they get a Leica medium format camera, because the focus, aperture, etc. need to be adjusted manually. On mobile phones, ISP uses real-time calculations, together with laser focus, light sensors and other components, to implement functions such as auto-focus, auto-exposure, auto-aperture, and auto-white balance, helping users to take clear photos the moment they turn on the phone's camera. Photo.

When we criticize some mobile phone cameras for slow focusing, poor white balance, overexposure in automatic HDR, and impure night scene image quality, the problem is likely to lie in the weak ISP.

The main contributor to the emergence of Snapdragon 8 series chips and imaging flagship phones is of course the ISP hiding behind them.

So the purpose of the example of Realme GT5 Pro at the beginning is here, because the combination of Sony IMX890 image sensor + Snapdragon 8 Gen3 + ArcSoft algorithm is of typical significance. Powerful imaging hardware with powerful ISP capabilities, paired with excellent algorithms, can The basis for taking good images.

The basic performance of the ISP of this generation of Snapdragon 8 Gen3 is even more powerful. In fact, Snapdragon 8 Gen3 has three ISPs, supporting three cameras to shoot HDR videos at the same time. The color bit depth reaches 18-bit, and the maximum support is 200 million. Pixel camera, and 8K 30fps or 4K 120fps video recording, slow-motion video recording supports 720p 960fps…..

This means that the ISP of Snapdragon 8 Gen3 has very excellent data processing capabilities.

But that’s not all the imaging capabilities of Snapdragon 8 Gen3.

AI is the magic of technology, Snapdragon Sight is the spell that makes photos better

If 5 years ago, a manufacturer said that its photos were SLR-level or studio-level, they would have been criticized by professionals and mass players for exaggerating their claims.

But in 2023, many manufacturers have begun to promote SLR-level portraits and studio-level portraits. In some subdivided scenes, the performance of imaging flagship phones seems to have reached the threshold of professional imaging equipment.

This is where the power of computational photography comes in, making moving images look like professional images of taillights around corners. Not aperture wide enough? Computational photography can simulate natural blur effects. The focal length is not long enough? By using periscope zoom, digital zoom, and calculating photography optimization details, you can also get good super telephoto photos.

But in 2023, the magic year of AI, the coupling of imaging and AI will naturally come naturally.

Snapdragon Sight The progress of Snapdragon imaging technology has become more closely related to AI with the release of Snapdragon 8 Gen3. The outstanding ISP performance of Snapdragon 8 Gen3 and the further enhanced AI computing power make Snapdragon Sight imaging technology even stronger, becoming the technical base for many imaging flagships.

For example, the DCG (Dual Conversion Gain) technology supported by Snapdragon Sight is a technology that can provide better image quality and faster imaging, and can be used for HDR imaging. In essence, this is also a multi-frame synthesis technology, but the multi-frame images of DCG are generated at the same time, rather than before and after the traditional multi-frame synthesis.

There are also features such as night vision mode and Dolby format support, which are essentially the result of improved ISP performance.

However, technologies such as image expansion and object erasure also require the support of AI computing modules such as NPU.

Previously, we would have thought that these AI magic technologies did not belong to the category of imaging, but to a certain extent, these technologies that once required complex operations on software such as PhoneShop have now become simple and easy to obtain.

And the object erasing function is limited to pictures, but now Snapdragon 8 Gen3 has begun to support object erasing in videos, and the keyword "computing power" is still at work behind it.

At the same time, with the support of AI, ISP can evolve into a cognitive ISP, which can use Qualcomm AI engine to perform real-time semantic segmentation when taking photos and videos, and identify various elements of the image, such as buildings, boats, rivers, trees, Human face, eyes, hair, skin, etc. At the time of Snapdragon 8 Gen2, Cognitive ISP was able to identify 8 layers of semantics in pictures. At that time, it could even support the ability to remove the reflection of glasses. Now with Snapdragon 8 Gen3, the number of semantic layers that can be recognized in real time has been increased. Upgraded to level 12.

The more layers of recognition, the clearer the understanding of the image, and the greater the possibility of later enhancement.

For consumers, imaging technology is at an accelerated stage in 2023 with the support of Snapdragon 8 Gen3: taking a good photo and a good video is becoming easier than ever, and at the same time, this Photos and videos, under the magic of AI and supported by Snapdragon Sight imaging technology, have more possibilities and can be expanded, erased, and re-edited.

When we open the pages of many imaging flagship mobile phones and scroll to the image introduction section, we will constantly feel that "algorithms" are everywhere, supporting various "engines" such as ISP and NPU.

In fact, if you compare the technical preparations of Snapdragon Sight Snapdragon imaging technology, you will find that it actually leaves a lot of redundancy for mobile phone photography at this stage. For example, functions such as 4K 120fps video shooting, 3-camera simultaneous shooting, etc. have not yet been fully implemented. The reason is that, of course, upstream manufacturers must be ahead of terminal manufacturers and provide more potential for exploration, rather than becoming a constraint.

Looking forward to the imaging flagships in 2024, OPPO Find X7 series, vivo X100 Pro+, Xiaomi 14 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, etc., more powerful and professional imaging flagships will further utilize the Snapdragon 8 Gen3 and Snapdragon Sight Snapdragon imaging Technical strength.

By then, we will understand the value of this core better.

In the plastic greenhouse of fate, every cabbage that has been sprayed with too many pesticides once had a dream of becoming a pollution-free organic vegetable.

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