At the ongoing three-day Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018 in Maui, Hawaii, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon 855 SoC yesterday. Today, the chipmaker took a deep dive to talk about the performance aspects of the new Snapdragon 855 that will be powering the flagship smartphones of 2019.

With the new chipset, Qualcomm is focusing on some key areas with improvements in performance, AI, camera, and connectivity. Let’s go ahead and look at the new features that Snapdragon 855 SoC, brings compared to the last year’s Snapdragon 845.

Big performance boost

Let’s talk about the core aspect of the Snapdragon 855 first – the performance. The new chipset, like Apple’s A12 Bionic and Huawei’s Kirin 980 SoC, is built on 7nm process. It features the next-gen Kryo 485 CPU with a tri-cluster design featuring one prime core clocked at 2.84GHz, three performance cores clocked at 2.42GHz, and four efficiency cores clocked at 1.8GHz. The prime core and performance cores are based on ARM’s Cortex A76 architecture, whereas the efficiency cores are based on ARM’s Cortex A55 architecture.

Qualcomm says, the new CPU offers a 45 percent performance jump over last year’s Snapdragon 845. The CPU is paired with new Adreno 640 GPU, which offers 20 percent performance improvements over the predecessor.

Watch: Google Pixel 3 XL Hands-On

Faster connectivity

The new chipset will focus on offering faster internet speeds, both when connected to cellular and Wi-Fi networks. While Qualcomm had been talking a lot about 5G, and how it will change the user experiences, the new chipset does not come integrated with the X50 modem. Instead, the Snapdragon comes integrated with a Snapdragon X24 LTE modem, which is still an upgrade over the existing X20 modem on the Snapdragon 845.

The new modem supports up to 2Gbps speeds on LTE (Cat.20). Smartphone makers can additionally add X50 modem as a separate module. When paired with the X50 modem, Snapdragon 855 will support both fast mmWave and the long-range sub-6Ghz band. The implementation will be similar to what we have seen on the Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto Mod.

The Snapdragon 855 SoC also comes with faster Wi-Fi too. Qualcomm says it is the world’s first chipset to come with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and 60GHz Wi-Fi 802.11ay that could offer speeds up to 10Gbps.


Improved Artificial Intelligence

Thanks to Hexagon 690 DSP, the Snapdragon 855 SoC also gains on the AI performance, especially for the tasks that rely on neural network-based software. The Hexagon DSP, Adreno GPU and the Kryo CPU, are all capable of working together to execute AI related tasks. The 4th gen AI engine brings 3X improvements in AI-related tasks compared to the previous chipset, and 2X performance boost over competitor 7nm chipset.

Qualcomm has also been working with Google to advance the TensorFlow library. The partnership with Google will bring big gains in photo and object recognition, and Google Lens AR platform.

Cameras get even better

The Snapdragon 855 SoC comes with exciting features, especially in the camera department. It features an updated Spectra 380 ISP (image signal processor) with upgrades like computer vision for portrait mode, and AR/VR functions. The chipset is capable of doing depth sensing at 60fps when recording a video, meaning you get real-time portrait mode when recording videos. There is also support for real-time HDR at 4K resolution.

Besides, the SoC also comes with support for HEIF images for photos. Smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy A9 and LG V40 that feature more than two rear cameras can benefit from this, as it will allow these phones to shoot three or four different types of images, and store all of them into a single photo file. Lastly, Qualcomm is also promising 2X battery life improvements with the new SoC.

Entertainment and gaming improvements

Lastly, Qualcomm also detailed the entertainment and gaming performance on the Snapdragon 855. The company announced the Snapdragon Elite Gaming Platform with new features, which includes support for low-level graphics APU and Vulkan 1.1, allowing developers to get the get maximum performance from the phone.

The new chipset will also support 10-bit HDR gaming, offering more realistic graphics with closer to life colors. What’s more, there is support for Dolby Vision and HDR10+ standard as well, offering more immersive content. There is hardware accelerated VP9 and H.265 video support as well, resulting in 7x power savings.

Smartphones with Snapdragon 855 SoC will hit the market in the first half of 2019, and OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has promised that the next flagship smartphone will be powered by this chipset. You can also expect Xiaomi, Samsung, and LG among others to release their Snapdragon 855 based smartphones next year.

Disclaimer – The writer is in Hawaii, attending the Snapdragon Tech Summit 2018 on Qualcomm’s invite. Qualcomm took care of his travel and stay.


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