A day after Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 845 at its Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit, the company revealed more details about the next-generation high-end processor that will power premium phones like the OnePlus 6, Xiaomi Mi 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S9 next year. Although the performance of the Snapdragon 845 is going to be better than that of the Snapdragon 835 by — according to Qualcomm — up to 30 per cent, the big features of the new processor are all related to areas like camera performance, AI processing, virtual reality and security.
The Snapdragon 845 has 8 cores, built using the ARM A75 cores and ARM A55 cores. These ARM cores have been modified by Qualcomm so the company is calling them semi-custom cores. It says that the four high-performance A75 cores will run at a speed of up to 2.8GHz, a decent improvement over the 2.45Ghz that is the top speed of the Snapdragon 835. The smaller and power-efficient A55 cores run at a speed of up to 1.8Ghz in the Snapdragon 845, which is actually a slight decrease compared to the top speed of 1.9GHz from the similar cores in the Snapdragon 835.
However, due to the improvements in the processor architecture, and most likely because of additional L3 cache of 2MB and 3MB system cache, the high-performance cores in the Snapdragon 835 offer performance improvement of up to 30 per cent and the power-efficient core provide up to 15 per cent more performance.
The Snapdragon 845 comes with a new graphics processor called Adreno 630 that offers up to 30 per cent more performance while gaming compared to the Adreno 540.
The core performance is, however, not the big deal about the Snapdragon 845. Instead, according to Qualcomm, its new processor aims t solve the specific problems that define the user experience. The company says that with the Snapdragon 845 it wants to improve the camera experience, the security on a smartphone, the way virtual assistants work on the phone, the way video is recorded and how the AI-rich apps run on a device.
The camera performance, AI, security, and battery life are some of core areas that Qualcomm identified three years ago as the factors that matter more to consumers and so when it set out to work on the Snapdragon 845, it decided to focus on them.
Big focus on cameras
Qualcomm says that the Snapdragon 845 will allow phone makers to create cameras that capture richer colours and better micro-contrast in images. It will also offer them ability to create better portrait photos with blurred background, even with just one camera, as well as offer better low-light photos by allowing multi-frame processing. Incidentally, multi-frame processing as well as AI-driven single lens portrait mode is something Google’s Pixel 2 already uses to create magical photos. If Qualcomm indeed delivers on its promise, many more phone companies – including companies like OnePlus, Xiaomi, Motorola, LG and Nokia – will be able to offer Pixel 2-class cameras on their phones.
To be specific, Qualcomm claims that phones powered by Snapdragon 845 will be able to get 100 plus points in DxO camera benchmarks. Currently, the list at the DxO is topped by Google Pixel 2 that scores 98 points. Along with the improvements in the imaging performance, the Snapdragon 845 will also improve video recording by allowing phone makers to enable slow-mo modes of up tp 480FPS.
In a way, many of the technologies and features that Snapdragon 845 brings are already available in some high-end phones. For example, Apple’s iPhones already have hardware-based on-device security protection. Similarly, companies like Google and Samsung already have dedicated processing chips for cameras that allow features otherwise not possible on phones. But by bringing everything in one place in the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm will be able to ensure that many of these features reach more people and at a lower price point compared to what Google, Samsung and others charge for their high-end phones.
The Snapdragon 845 also comes with a new modem X20 LTE that will support download speed of up to 1.2gbps, 20 per cent higher than what the Snapdragon 835 offered. Although, this speed can be utilised only with Gigabit LTE networks that are currently available only in 20 odd countries. For now, no telecom operator in India offers Gigabit LTE network.
“Thoughtfully designed with tech savvy consumers in mind, Snapdragon 845 utilises Qualcomm Technologies’ industry leading wireless heterogenous compute expertise to design a platform for immersive multimedia experiences including eXtended reality (XR), on-device artificial intelligence (AI), lightning-fast connectivity, and introduces our new secure processing unit (SPU) delivering vault-like security for premium, flagship mobile devices,” a Qualcomm spokesperson said.
The phones with the Snapdragon 845 will be available in 2018. It is expected that the Samsung Galaxy S9 will be the first phone to use the Snapdragon 845. Also, yesterday Xiaomi CEO had confirmed that the next flagship from the company will use the Snapdragon 845. This phone is likely to be the Xiaomi Mi 7. Other than these two phones, there will be tens of other high-end phones, including OnePlus 6, next-gen Nokia flagship phone, next-gen Moto Z flagship phone, Pixel 3 as well as possible devices like the LG G7 that will use the Snapdragon 845.
In addition to phones, the Snapdragon 845 will also be used by companies to make laptops. yesterday Asus and HP announced laptops that use Snapdragon 835 and support LTE aka SIM connectivity. In 2018, laptops featuring the Snapdragon 845 will most likely appear in the market.