The yearly 3-day Snapdragon Tech Summit 2019 has been concluded, and chipmaker Qualcomm made a number of announcements. As expected, the flagship Snapdragon 865 SoC has been unveiled, along with mid-range Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 765G SoCs. For always-connected Windows 10 laptops, Qualcomm also unveiled the Snapdragon 7c and 8c SoCs.

We have already talked about the new chipsets in detail. And now, we are going compare the Snapdragon 865 (SD865) with last year’s Snapdragon 855 (SD855)SoC. We will take a look at everything that is new and different, and what improvements the new chipset brings over the older one.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs Snapdragon 855: Architecture

Last year, Qualcomm made a switch from 10nm (Snapdragon 845) to 7nm node (Snapdragon 855). It allowed for huge gains in energy efficiency, as well as performance. It also allowed the chipmaker to make Snapdragon 855 SoC more compact than the Snapdragon 845, while packing more transistors. The latest Snapdragon 865 is also made on 7nm node, with improvements in the CPU cores to boost performance.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs Snapdragon 855: CPU and performance

Just like the Snapdragon 855, the Snapdragon 865 also uses an octa-core CPU with a tri-cluster design. Out of the eight cores, one is a prime Kryo 585 core (Cortex A77-based) clocked at 2.84GHz, followed by three performance Kryo 585 cores (Cortex A77-based) clocked at 2.42GHz. Lastly, there are four efficiency cores (Kryo 585) based on ARM’s Cortex A55 architecture, and clock speed of 1.8GHz.

The Snapdragon 855 features Kryo 485 octa-core CPU. This includes a prime core (Cortex A76-based) clocked at 2.84GHz, and three performance cores (Cortex A76-based) clocked at 2.42GHz. Then you have four efficiency cores based on ARM’s Cortex A55 architecture, and clock speed of 1.8GHz.

According to Qualcomm, a switch from Cortex A76 (Snapdragon 855) to Cortex A77 (Snapdragon 865) offers 25 percent faster CPU performance. We will get to know more when smartphones with new chipsets make their way to the markets.

GPU and memory

The Snapdragon 865 gets an upgraded Adreno 650 GPU, which Qualcomm says 20 percent performance boost. It supports 10-bit HDR gaming, and 8K video playback. Qualcomm also mentioned that it is the first-ever updatable mobile GPU. Just like app updates, even GPU driver updates will be seeded via the Play Store.

In the case of the Snapdragon 855 SoC, the chipset comes with Adreno 640 GPU. It offered 20 percent performance boost, with 30 percent reduction in power consumption compared to the predecessor.

Coming to memory, both chipsets support up to 16GB of RAM. The new SD865 supports LPDDR4x at 2,133MHz, and LPDDR5 at 2,750MHz. The SD855 only supports LPDDR4x at 2,133MHz.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs Snapdragon 855: AI

Both SD865 and SD855 are AI-powered for completing various tasks. It enables depth-based facial recognition, object detection, speech recognition, single-camera bokeh effects, and landmark detection among others. The new 5th gen AI on Snapdragon 865 is 2x more powerful than the predecessor, says Qualcomm. It supports 15 TOPS (15 trillion operations per second) to speed up AI related tasks. It can also help with on-device, real-time AI translation. 

 

Camera and imaging enhancements

In terms of imaging, the new SD865 SoC comes with Spectra 480 ISP. It can process 2 Gigapixels per second, meaning 200-megapixel still photos. With 8K video recording, Dolby Vision video capture, it can simultaneously capture 4K HDR videos and 64-megapixel photos. The biggest change this year is the ability to record 4K videos at 120fps, and unlimited slow-motion video recording – 720p @ 960fps.

The SD855, on the other hand, comes with Spectra 380 ISP. It enables real-time depth sensing when recording videos at 60fps, allowing you to add bokeh effects to your videos. Qualcomm has also added support for HEIF codec for saving photos, which will not only result in 50 percent size reduction while maintaining quality. The camera also supports still image capturing at up to 192-megapixel resolution.

Connectivity

Now, here comes the biggest change in the Snapdragon 865. We’ve been hearing a lot about 5G for a couple of years now. And while we expected the new chipset to come with an integrated 5G modem, Qualcomm completely skipped an integrated modem. Instead, OEMs will have to pair an external Snapdragon X55 5G modem, which also supports 4G LTE.

What this means is that every Snapdragon 865 powered smartphone will be 5G enabled, and future proof, by default. This also means, OEMs can’t pair a 4G modem and sell a Snapdragon 865 powered 4G LTE smartphone.

The Snapdragon X55 5G modem supports both sub-6 and mmWave. Support for TDD, FDD and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) is also present, making it usable in all key regions. The 5G modem supports peak download speeds up to 7.5Gbps, and upload speeds up to 3Gbps. Multi-SIM 5G support is also present.

The Snapdragon 855 comes with X24 LTE Cat.20 modem with speeds that can peak up to 2Gbps. If OEMs want to offer 5G connectivity, they will need to add X50 modem along with mmWave module to enable 5G speeds.

Both the SD865 and SD855 chipsets comes with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and 60GHz Wi-Fi 802.11ay connectivity options, offering peak speeds up to 10Gbps. While the SD865 supports Bluetooth 5.1, last year’s SD855 supports Bluetooth 5.0.

Security

With Snapdragon 855, Qualcomm got support for ultrasonic fingerprint scanner to offer faster unlocking. Tech will uses ultrasonics for building a 3D map of the surface of your fingertip. As the tech relies on ultrasonic mapping of the ridges of your finger, it can even scan through grease, dirt, oil and water.

With this year’s Snapdragon 865, the chipmaker is introducing 3D Sonic Max, that can simultaneously recognize two fingers. The 3D Sonic Max sensor measures 20mm by 30mm in dimension, and takes the recognition area to a whopping 600 square millimeter. This is 17 percent bigger than the predecessor.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 vs Snapdragon 855: Comparison table

Snapdragon 865Snapdragon 855
Node7nm (TSMC)7nm (TSMC)
CPU (octa-core)1 x Kryo 585 (Cortex A77) @ 2.84GHz
3 x Kryo 585 (Cortex A77) @ 2.42GHz
4 x Kryo 585 (Cortex A55) @ 1.80GHz
1 x Kryo 485 (Cortex A76) @ 2.84GHz
3 x Kryo 485 (Cortex A76) @ 2.42GHz
4 x Kryo 485 (Cortex A55) @ 1.80GHz
GPUAdreno 650Adreno 640
Display support4K, QHD+ at 144Hz4K, QHD+ at 60Hz
Memory supportUp to 16GB
LPDDR4X at 2,133MHz
LPDDR5 at 2,750MHz
Up to 16GB
LPDDR4X at 2,133MHz
ModemN.A.
Snapdragon X55 (LTE+5G) – External
Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE Cat.20
Snapdragon X50 5G – External
CameraUp to 200MPUp to 192MP
Video8K @ 30fps
4K @ 120fps
720p @ 960fps unlimited
Dolby Vision, HDR10+
4K @ 60fps
720p @ 480fps
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0

 

Smartphones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC are expected to hit the markets in the first half of 2020. These will likely be the OnePlus 8, Samsung S11, LG G9, Xiaomi Redmi K30 Pro, Mi 10 and more.

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