Qualcomm on Tuesday announced its new flagship Snapdragon 865 mobile platform, along with 5G-capable mid-range chipsets called the Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 765G SoCs. However, not a lot of details were shared on the first day of the company's Tech Summit 2019. On day two, however, Qualcomm has shared more details about what makes these two SoCs tick, including the type of CPU and GPU and what sort of performance boost we can expect from them. Devices based on all three SoCs will be commercially available from Q1 2020. This means, we should be seeing a lot of smartphones announced during MWC (Mobile World Congress) in February, based on them.
The Snapdragon 865 SoC has been in the works for two years and is only now going into production. It's built using the 7nm fabrication process from TSMC, featuring a Kryo 585 CPU and Adreno 650 GPU. The CPU consists of four ARM Cortex-A77 cores, of which three cores run up to 2.4GHz, white the Prime core runs up to 2.84GHz. These make up the SoC's 'performance' cores. The remaining four 'efficiency' cores are made up of ARM Cortex-A55 CPUs and have a maximum clock speed of 1.8GHz. Compared to the Snapdragon 855 SoC, the new Kryo 585 CPU is said to offer up to 25 percent better performance and power efficiency. The same goes for the Adreno 650 GPU, which is said to deliver up to 25 percent better performance. Keith Kressin, SVP Product Management at Qualcomm, said the goal for the engineering team was to deliver "sustained performance," while keeping thermals in check.
This SoC uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem, which is touted to support a global 5G modem for all key regions and bands including both TDD and FDD frequencies in mmWave and sub-6GHz. The Snapdragon 865 SoC is said to be compatible with both NSA (Non Standalone) and SA (Standalone) modes, as well as with Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). The latter technology allows operators to scale their existing 4G networks, to 5G by sharing the current 4G bands. The Snapdragon 865 also features Qualcomm's FastConnect 6800 mobile connectivity subsystem, which includes support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1; Super Wide Band voice over Bluetooth and TrueWireless Stereo Plus which can connect to each truly wireless earbud independently for a more stable connection.
The Snapdragon 865 SoC also uses Qualcomm's 5th generation AI engine, which is powered by a new Hexagon Tensor Accelerator, which promises four times the TOPS (Trillion Operations Per Second) performance over its predecessor, while still having 35 percent better efficiency. The new Sensing Hub is also said to use lesser battery, for always-on tasks such as waking up your virtual assistant with a voice command. There is also support for LPDDR5 memory but OEMs can choose to use LPDDR4 too.
Gaming is another area, where we can expect big improvements. Apart from the faster GPU, the Snapdragon 865 SoC supports up to 144Hz refresh rate displays and 10-bit HDR.
Coming to the cameras, the new Spectra 480 ISP is said to be capable of simultaneous 4K HDR video capture, along with the ability to save full 64-megapixel stills (provided you have a high resolution sensor). "It's the biggest update we've ever done to cameras," said Judd Heape, Senior Director Product Management, Cameras at Qualcomm. Some of the big improvements include the ability to use the entire sensor as focus pixels for quicker focus; support for Quad CFA sensors apart from Bayer sensors; Recording video in Dolby Vision HDR and 4K video recording at 120fps. These are major improvements over the previous generation ISP in the Snapdragon 855 series. Heape also said that the Snapdragon 865 is capable of recording native 960fps slow-motion video, with no limits.
The Snapdragon 765 SoC and Snapdragon 765G SoC is also a big step up from the current series, thanks to an integrated Snapdragon X52 5G modem. These chips are also built using the 7nm process, but by Samsung, instead of TSMC. Qualcomm says these two chips are a big step in commercializing 5G globally. The new chips in the 5G modem support a peak download speed of up to 3.7Gbps and upload speeds of up to 1.6Gbps. Just like the Snapdragon X55 modem, the Snapdragon X52 also supports all key 5G connectivity features such as mmWave, sub-6GHz, 5G SA and NSA modes, TDD and FDD bands with DSS, 5G roaming and multi-SIM support.
Both the Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 765G SoCs also use Qualcomm's generation AI engine and low-power sensing hub to give your device contextual awareness of voice commands, without excessive battery drain. The integrated ISP also supports multi-camera capture, allowing you to shoot from the primary, tele and wide-angle cameras simultaneously. It's also capable of capturing 4K HDR video too.
The Snapdragon 765 SoC uses the new Kryo 475 CPU cores, with speeds of up to 2.3GHz. There's also an Adreno 620 GPU, which promises up to 20 percent improvement over the last generation. The main difference between the Snapdragon 765 SoC and the Snapdragon 765G SoC is improved graphics performance, by about 10 percent.
Disclosure: Qualcomm sponsors the correspondent's flights and hotel for the trip to Maui, Hawaii.