Qualcomm’s latest flagship SoC is here, and this is what you need to know.
Qualcomm, the semiconductor giant currently embroiled in lawsuits with Apple and a potential, announced today that its newest flagship platform, the Snapdragon 845, would be coming to devices in 2018.
While the system-on-a-chip, which combines the computing, graphics, modem and other essential components of a mobile processor, will only be available in the second quarter of next year, Qualcomm is ready to talk about how it will bring mobile devices — and not just phones — into the AI age.
It’s no coincidence that artificial intelligence is the cornerstone of Qualcomm’s branding for its next-gen platform; with companies like Apple, Huawei, and Google dedicating more of their devices and software to components dedicated to offloading the intense computational needs of on-device machine learning. To its engineers’ credit (and marketers’ chagrin), Qualcomm says that it’s been catering to developers’ machine learning needs since 2016’s Snapdragon 820 — its Hexagon digital signal processor, or DSP, has something called the Hexagon Vector Extension that processes the complex math equations used for artificial intelligence requirements.
More colors and better colors are how Qualcomm wants people to understand the Snapdragon 845’s display capabilities.
Hexagon’s improvements extend beyond just AI, though: developers can connect to advancements in audio, sensors and, of course, video.
Part of the Snapdragon 845’s biggest draw is something that we’ve seen, good and bad, from a number of manufacturers over the past year: HDR.
Specifically, the 845 supports what Qualcomm calls Ultra HD Premium, which supports wider color gamuts, such as Rec. 2020— that’s more colors — and considerably more shades of existing colors. This is powered by the new lower-power Spectra 280 ISP, an upgrade over the one inside the Snapdragon 835. With screens getting sharper and OLED displays becoming more vivid, the Snapdragon 845 promises to make video capture and playback significantly more vivid in 4K, something that Qualcomm has been pushing for a long time.
In terms of substantive performance and efficiency improvements, the Snapdragon 845 is iterative, much like the last few iterations. Expect a 10-20% bump in performance depending on the application from the new Kryo 385 CPU, along with a 30% boost in efficiency, but we’re well beyond the time when meaningful jumps in single-core speeds are happening year-over-year. The Snapdragon 845 is, like the 835, an octa-core chip build on TSMC’s 10nm process, and the Adreno 630 GPU offers an equivalent boost in performance — around 30% in performance and efficiency.
One intelligent way Qualcomm is cutting down on power use is through a system called Tile-based Foveation, which works with the Snapdragon 845’s eye-tracking system, helps the GPU render the part of the screen a user is looking at in greater detail than the area around it. This cuts down on energy usage and helps maintain frame rates in graphics-intensive games.
So when can you get it? The chip will start shipping in the second quarter of next year so, like this year, expect the Samsung Galaxy S9 to be the first phone with the new chip.
What do you think? Share your thoughts on the Snapdragon 845 in the comments below!
This post is in progress and is being continually updated throughout the day.
December 6, 2017 at 09:34AM