Qualcomm showcases quad-core Snapdragon 820 with Adreno 530 GPU, speedy LTE and more

By Shawn Knight
Nov 11, 2015
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  1. Qualcomm at a recent media event in New York City provided a glimpse of the future, otherwise known as its Snapdragon 820 mobile chip. The gathering brought together much of what we’ve heard up to this point.

    At the heart of the Snapdragon 820 are four Kryo CPUs alongside an Adreno 530 GPU, a Hexagon 680 DSP, an X12 LTE Cat. 12 modem capable of speeds of up to 600Mbps down and the Spectra ISP that Qualcomm previously promised would deliver DSLR-like quality results (the jury is still out on that one) at up to 28-megapixels. It’ll be built using a 14nm FinFET manufacturing process.

    Qualcomm focused much of its marketing effort on stepping back from octa-core to quad-core; as PC Mag points out, the 820 often only uses two cores at a time. Travis Lanier, senior director for product management at Qualcomm, said there’s very little evidence that operating systems can take advantage of more than two or three cores.

    There’s certainly a lot of truth in that statement as Apple, for example, uses just two cores in its current-generation iPhones. In our testing, the iPhone 6s Plus obliterated the competition in nearly every benchmark.

    Compared to the Snapdragon 810, Lanier said the new chip offers twice as much performance on single-threaded tasks at double the power efficiency while the Adreno 530 is reportedly 40 percent faster than the Adreno 430 it replaces.

    Other noteworthy additions include a new speaker amp / protection IC for improved audio quality and Sense ID which foregoes capacitive fingerprint readers for a system that uses ultrasonic sound waves to map and authenticate a fingerprint. As AnandTech notes, Sense ID can penetrate materials like aluminum and glass and remains reliable even through contaminants such as dirt and water.

    The Snapdragon 820 is expected to show up in smartphones sometime in the first half of next year. CES may be too soon; if so, Mobile World Congress will almost certainly be a lock.

    Videos courtesy AnandTech

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  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,339   +1,938

    Hopefully we won't see the same fiasco we witnessed with the SD810 which was naturally blown out of all proportion.
  3. tomkaten

    tomkaten TS Addict Posts: 183   +82

    Four cores ought to be enough for anybody !

    But seriously, it's painful how Apple's two cores wipe the floor with everything eight core on the market, big.LITTLE or otherwise. Hence the need for better IPC, not more cores.

    This will be an interesting SoC.
    p51d007 likes this.
  4. Opus

    Opus TS Enthusiast Posts: 46

    I am not an Apple fan boy. But here we have to look at the engineering design of Apple processors. They have designed very complex processor with shorter and wider memory pipelines that allow it to have processors with more memory bandwidth, and low latency hence the ability to execute threads in a more efficient way. Moreover, if a single core can handle more number of parallel instructions it will be able to outperform the multiple cores handling fewer parallel instructions. That's the same story as of low clocked Itanium or Xeon compared to higher clocked Core i3.
  5. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 858   +352

    My phone, (Huawei Ascend Mate2) has a snapdragon 400. I don't play games, but I do a lot of video, mp3's phone calls, text, web. It's VERY fast, no lag.
    I hope the days of cranking out faster & faster processors will come to an end. THEN maybe manufacturers will start concentrating on DESIGN INNOVATION. They are stuck in a rut. But, as long as consumers think that a faster chip, will get them a better performance, heck, cheap way to sell overpriced phones I guess.
    We put my cheap phone, up against a coworkers Nexus 6 when he got it. Ran the SAME apps on both. No difference in the way they operated. He sent it back a week later. Asked him why. He said the speed versus the price WASN'T worth it.

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