Qualcomm’s next flagship processor Snapdragon 845 is likely to be found in high-end Android phones in early 2018, the company said at its Snapdragon Tech Summit. The 845 is a direct successor to last year’s hugely popular Snapdragon 835, and brings amplified performance, better connectivity, and more efficient power usage.
As anticipated, Snapdragon 845 will be built on the same 10 nm processor technology like the 835, but there are changes in architecture that significantly boost camera videography and virtual and augmented reality experiences on a mobile platform.
That means the next bunch of flagship phones using the processor will be very capable handsets. And most likely it is going to be Samsung Galaxy S9 (the ‘coincidence’ ahead of its January launch is interesting)!
Like its predecessors, the 845 is not just a processor, but what we call an ‘alphabet soup’ of processors and systems, such as a CPU, GPU, ISP, and DSP, all contained on a single unit. Qualcomm has paired Snapdragon 845 with its latest X20 LTE modem, which provides gigabit connectivity on supported networks.
But, the big new feature here, is the ability to capture 4K video in HDR at up to 60 frames per second. New architectures — Spectra 280 ISP and Adreno 630 — have been designed to improve photography and video capture. The 845 can also shoot slo-mo 720p video at 480 frames per second and supports 1080p video recording at up to 240 frames per second. Also new here is SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) that can be used for obstacle collision, and in augmented and virtual reality.
And if that’s not all, Snapdragon 845 has the configuration to run artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning on the chipset (rather than relying on connecting with cloud-based services).
The chipset uses both its CPU and GPU to do this, but also has the Hexagon 685 digital signal processor (DSP) which acts as an AI co-processor giving the Snapdragon 845 a 3x performance boost in AI tasks over 835.
There are a lot of other improvements. Qualcomm said its new Adreno 630 GPU provides 30% better graphics, 30% better power efficiency, and 2.5x faster display throughput. It also supports room scale 6DOF and can map rooms in real time for VR and AR applications.
|Process||10 nm FinFET|
|CPU||8x Kryo 385 (4x Cortex-A75 up to 2.8 GHz + 4x Cortex-A55 up to 1.8 GHz)|
|GPU / VPS||Adreno 630|
|Camera||Up to 32MP / 16MP +16MP|
|Video Recording||4K HDR|
|Max screen resolution||2x 2400×2400 @ 120 FPS (VR)|
|LTE||1.2 Gbps / 150 Mbps|
|AI Platform||Hexagon 685|
The eight CPU cores are Kryo 385 that due to a redesign of the platform will provide “25% performance uplift” as Qualcomm claims. Four of them are dedicated for performance and are based on the Cortex-A75 architecture, while the other four are based on the Cortex-A55 and run up to 1.8 GHz.
With the new GPU Adreno 630, Qualcomm promises “30% faster graphics and 30% better power efficiency”. The new unit should bring 2.5x faster display throughput, meaning a 2K x 2K display can efficiently run at 120 Hz. With eye tracking, hand tracking, and multiview rendering features, Qualcomm goes on to call Adreno 630 a “Visual Processing Subsystem”.
Even better thing is that Qualcomm has freed up developer choice. The San Diego chipmaker has added support for TensorFlow Lite and the new Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) frameworks, in addition to regular old TensorFlow and Caffe.
As far as security is concerned, there’s a devoted secure processing unit on-board, which should bring improvements to biometrics and encryption. Battery life is another key upgrade, with the Snapdragon 845 promising almost one-third power reduction for energy-hungry features like video capture, AR/VR and gaming.
Interestingly, Xiaomi also made an appearance in the summit to announce that their upcoming flagship phone will come equipped with Snapdragon 845 chip. And let us not forget that Microsoft has already started using Qualcomm 835 chips on Windows 10. Further to that announcement, Snapdragon 845 will be actually making its way to Windows 10 PCs by the end of 2018.
Here is a quick view of the features Snapdragon 845 includes:
Qualcomm Spectra 280 ISP
- Ultra HD premium capture
- Qualcomm Spectra Module Program, featuring Active Depth Sensing
- MCTF video capture
- Multi-frame noise reduction
- High performance capture up to 16MP @60FPS
- Slow motion video capture (720p @480 fps)
- ImMotion computational photography
Adreno 630 Visual Processing Subsystem
- 30% improved graphics/video rendering and power reduction compared to previous generation
- Room-scale 6 DoF with SLAM
- Adreno foveation, featuring tile rendering, eye tracking, multiView rendering, fine grain preemption
- 2K x 2K @ 120Hz, for 2.5x faster display throughput
- Improved 6DoF with hand-tracking and controller support
Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 685 DSP
- 3rd Generation Hexagon Vector DSP (HVX) for AI and imaging
- 3rd Generation Qualcomm All-Ways AwareTM Sensor Hub
- Hexagon scalar DSP for audio
Snapdragon X20 LTE modem
- Support for 1.2 Gbps Gigabit LTE Category 18
- License Assisted Access (LAA)
- Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) shared radio spectrum
- Dual SIM-Dual VoLTE (DSDV)
- Multigigabit 11ad Wi-Fi with diversity module
- Integrated 2×2 11ac Wi-Fi with Dual Band Simultaneous (DBS) support
- 11k/r/v: Carrier Wi-Fi enhanced mobility, fast acquisition and congestion mitigation
- Bluetooth 5 with proprietary enhancements for ultra-low power wireless ear bud support and direct audio broadcast to multiple devices
Secure Processing Unit
- Biometric authentication (fingerprint, iris, voice, face)
- User and app data protection
- Integrated use-cases such as integrated SIM, Payments, and more
Qualcomm Aqstic Audio
- Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec(WCD934x):
- Dynamic range: 130dB, THD+N: -109dB
- Native DSD support (DSD64/DSD128), PCM up to 384kHz/32bit
- Low power voice activation: 0.65mA
- Dynamic range: 109dB, THD+N: -103dB
- Sampling: Up to 192kHz/24bit
Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+
Kryo 385 CPU
- Four performance cores up to 2.8GHz (25 percent performance uplift compared to previous generation)
- Four efficiency cores up to 1.8GHz
- 2MB shared L3 cache (new)
- 3MB system cache (new)
For more information on Snapdragon 845, please visit Qualcomm’s site.