At its CES 2017 presentation, Qualcomm revealed the details of its upcoming flagship SoC, the Snapdragon 835, that we will be seeing all around in 2017.
The new apex chip has been designed to fulfill Qualcomm’s vision of Heterogeneous computing, where abilities of different chipset components like CPU, GPU, DSP, and ISP are combined to power technology beyond smartphones. The Snapdragon 835 is capable of supporting next-generation AR headsets, VR headsets, IP cameras and even upcoming portable PCs running full Windows 10 (including legacy x86 (32-bit) Win32 apps).
To start with, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is the first commercial SoC to use Samsung’s 10nm “10LPE” FinFET manufacturing node. According to Samsung, this new process node relays 27 percent higher performance and 40 percent better power efficiency compared to 14nm LPE mode that was used in Snapdragon 820.
Unlike the Snapdragon 820 and 821, the new Snapdragon chip isn’t using fully customized ARM cores. Neither is it lifting ARM core architecture off the shelf. This time Qualcomm has decided to opt for a ‘semi-custom’ core configuration. That is to say, the Kyro 280 cores on Snapdragon 835 essentially lift the default ARM cores and modify parts of micro Architecture.
The octa-core CPU has 4 performance cores and other 4 power efficient cores. Qualcomm hasn’t stated what Cores it is using for the two clusters, but it is most likely a combination of Cortex-A72/73 and Cortex-A53 based cores that are arranged in big.LITTLE configuration.
The Adreno 540 supports the latest graphics APIs like OpenGL ES 3.2, DirectX 12, and Vulkan and also supports OpenCL 2.0 and Renderscript.
The DSP used is Hexagon 682 which is an incremental update over last year’s Hexagon 680 which was a major design overhaul. The DSP is capable of multithread programming same as CPU cores but is used to perform specific tasks like audio and video streaming more efficiently. The DSP also has two additional cores – one to handle the new X16 LTE modem, and the other is used as a power efficient always on sensor hub.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 puts special emphasis on improving the power efficiency of its power cluster. The company says that these comparatively low power cores are the ones that are active 80 percent of the times. Point being, the new design and shift to 10nm node could result in some serious battery life improvements this year.
All these claims feel very alluring on paper, but how the SoC actually pans out will be known only later. Snapdragon 835 phones are expected to start shipping by the end of first quarter of 2017.
Key features of Snapdragon 835 chipset
- The Snapdragon 835 has been designed to power devices beyond Android smartphones and tablets
- This is the first Chipset to be built on 10nm FinFET process (27 percent powerful and 40 percent more energy efficient than 14nm LPE process used in Snapdragon 820)
- This time Qualcomm is using Semi-custom cores (unlike the fully customized cores in Snapdragon 820)
- Qualcomm hasn’t revealed the base core architecture on which the 8 cores arranged in big.LITTLE configuration are based
- The Performance Cores have peek frequency of 1.9GHz and the Power cores max at 2.45GHz (which is lesser than what was expected).
- Low power Performance cores have double (2MB) L2 cache. Qualcomm says this helps with improving performance and reduce power consumption.
- The GPU is Adreno 540. It is 25 percent more efficient than Adreno 530 in Snapdragon 820.
- The DSP used is Hexagon 682 which is an incremental update over last years Hexagon 680
- The new Spectra 180 dual 14-bit ISP supports up to 32MP single camera or two 16MP cameras. It also supports dual PDAF which is twice as fast as PDAF. It can also support Hybrid AF mechanism more efficiently.
- Manufacturers can also use Qualcomm’s Dual Sight Algorithm to implement dual cameras
- Supports QuickCharge 4.0 which is 20 percent faster than QuickCharge 3.0
- Snapdragon X16 LTE (Category 16/13) DL = 1000Mbps 3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM UL = 150Mbps 2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
- It is also the first Bluetooth 5.0 certified chipset which offers 2x bandwidth compared to Bluetooth 4.2