If you follow the world of mobile processors, you have surely seen the fierce competition between the major players, be it Apple, Huawei or Qualcomm. Every year, companies propose something innovative to clearly stand out from the rest. This year, Qualcomm may have been ahead of the pack with the world’s first 5G SoC: the Snapdragon 855.

Codenamed Snapdragon 8510, this chipset is ready for the future, a feature associated with Qualcomm for a couple of years now. In fact, Qualcomm chips have often been compared to Apple’s top mobile processors in the past.

In this post today, we will explore Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 855 and the new features it offers.

Table of Contents

  • 1 1. 5G Ready
  • 2 2. Qualcomm Kryo 485 CPU
  • 3 3. 7nm manufacturing process and Adreno 640 GPU
  • 4 4. 4. AI engine
  • 5 5. Snapdragon Elite Gaming
  • 6 It’s all about speed

1. 5G Ready

Yes, the Snapdragon 855 is the first mobile processor to enable full 5G functionality. One of the most obvious advantages of 5G networks is the increase in speed. This means faster streaming with minimal latency. The Snapdragon 855 will support a 5G mm waveform and will operate in the sub-6GHz spectrum bands. However, there is a slight downside to this story.

5G functionality is not a feature built into the Snapdragon 855 chipset. Instead, it is part of the Snapdragon X50 modem, which is a separate add-on. Therefore, companies that want to offer 5G services on their smartphones have the independence to opt (or not) for 5G functionality.

As far as the built-in modem is concerned, the 855 comes with the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem. This modem can allow a theoretical download speed of up to 2Gbps and an upload speed of up to 316Mbps.

The 2019 variant of OnePlus will be the first phone to be powered by this 5G chipset in the Europe region. But it remains to be seen if other phone manufacturers really embrace this feature. Remember the Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+, and how rare is it to find it?

2. Qualcomm Kryo 485 CPU

At its core, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 is comprised of eight Kryo 485 CPUs. Unlike previous iterations, Qualcomm has opted for a three-cluster arrangement on the Kryo 485 cores. For those of you who don’t know, the Kryo cores They are built on ARM’s Cortex CPUs. Typically, Snapdragon flagships like the 835 and 845 come with a dual-cluster design comprised of four “performance” cores and four “efficiency” cores.

The Kryo 485 CPU is comprised of a single Cortex A76 that will act as the “Prime” core, three Cortex A76s that will act as the “Performance” core, and four Cortex A55s that will act as the “Efficiency” cores.

The main core runs at 2.84GHz. While the performance core and the efficiency of the clock cores at 2.42GHz and 1.80GHZ respectively. To add to it, the main core has a 512KB L2 cache, while the run core is coupled with 256KB L2 caches. Lastly, the efficiency kernel has a 128KB L2 cache.

For those of you who don’t know, the Cortex A76 is a new micro-architecture from ARM and is designed for high performance and great efficiency. This new arrangement gives the Snapdragon 855 a 45% increase in performance compared to its predecessor.

3. 7nm manufacturing process and Adreno 640 GPU

Synonymous with the Apple A12 Bionic processor and the HiSilicon Kirin 980, Qualcomm has also embraced the 7nm manufacturing process for the Snapdragon 855. However, this time the chipmaker chose TSMC over Samsung as its partner. manufacturing. One of the most obvious benefits of a smaller compute node is increased overall performance and processor battery efficiency.

Another interesting update is the Adreno 640 GPU for high resolution gaming. Although not much has been revealed about it, Qualcomm claims that this GPU provides 20% more performance than the Adreno 630 found in the Snapdragon 845. Other than that, the GPU is capable of handling 4K HDR10 + playback.

4. 4. AI engine

When it comes to artificial intelligence or AI, Qualcomm has significantly improved its game and combines the Snapdragon 855 with a multi-core AI engine from Qualcomm (4th generation). This engine is capable of handling up to 7 billion operations per second. If you remember, the A12 Bionic can handle up to 5 trillion AI operations per second.

The AI ​​power of the Snapdragon 855 is incomplete without the mention of the Hexagon 690 DSP (Digital Signal Processor). The DSP is responsible for the first tensor accelerator for mobiles and it also doubles as hardware acceleration to perform complex matrix multiplication.

So whether it’s for echo cancellation, noise suppression, better images, or real-time hair color change, the Hexagon 690 has considerable updates and improvements. Interestingly, there is an advanced in-device voice assistant on the Snapdragon 855 designed for echo cancellation and noise suppression.

In addition to the above, Qualcomm’s Spectra 380 image signal processor is capable of recording 4K HDR10 + video. This mode allows users to shoot cinematic videos with bokeh-like blur effects.

5. Snapdragon Elite Gaming

Games are the new It, and this has been proven by the popularity of games like Fortnite and PUBG for mobile. Qualcomm intends to take advantage of all its benefits through its Snapdragon Elite Gaming.

The Snapdragon Elite Gaming is a combination of many things designed to enhance the gaming experience. This means the obvious improvement in graphics related performance, you would also see improvements in the field of audio quality and gaming graphics. In fact, the graphics performance of the Snapdragon 855 is 20% faster than that of the 845.

Along with the above, games will load faster and have less stuttering. Another interesting point is that this new chipset supports Vulkan 1.1, this API helps game creators to squeeze the maximum performance out of a phone. Additionally, the 855 will allow for true 10-bit HDR gaming, allowing for more vibrant colors and greater dynamic range.

Additionally, Snapdragon 855 will enable volumetric VR for an immersive video experience. For the uninitiated, volumetric VR is the next big thing in VR. It enables a smoother experience when creating virtual environments by creating immersive experiences and the like.

It’s all about speed

The Snapdragon 855 packs a punch and can be described as more than just future-proof. Although it looks great on paper, users may or may not reap the real benefits. For one thing, it’s up to the OEMs how they decide to harness the full power of the Snapdragon 855. Also, there’s no denying the fact that phones running this chipset will be expensive.


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