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Snapdragon 845 previews: incremental CPU improvements and excellent GPU performance

By midian182 · 25 replies
Feb 14, 2018
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  1. Back in December last year, Qualcomm finally revealed the SoC (or “platform”) that will power the majority of this year’s flagship smartphones: the Snapdragon 845. While we’re still waiting for the first handsets to feature the chip, we’re now starting to see some previews of the 845.

    Anandtech examined Qualcomm’s next-generation hardware using its own reference smartphone. The publication calls its performance a “mixed bag.” But while the CPU doesn’t quite meet expectations, the GPU blows away its rivals.

    Like its predecessor, the 845 is built on a 10nm LPP process. It features Kryo 385 CPU cores—an upgrade from the 835’s Kryo 280. There are still eight cores, but the four performance cores are now running at up to 2.8GHz while the four efficient cores can reach 1.80GHz. Compared to the 835, performance core speed is up from 2.35GHz, while efficiency core speed is down from 1.9GHz.

    Despite the switch to new ARM cortex designs, it seems the 845 offers only incremental improvements when it comes to CPU performance. Web browsing benchmarks showed the reference phone was 20 percent faster than the 835-powered Google Pixel 2 XL, while other data and app tests showed the 845 to be 8 percent to 14 percent faster.

    Tech Advisor notes that while the 845’s Geekbench 4 score of 8401 is way ahead of the 6382 achieved by the 835, it still lags behind the A11 Bionic-powered iPhone X's score of 10330. The site does add, however, that this won’t translate into a large performance difference between Apple’s flagship and 845-powered phones. And when it comes to Antutu benchmarks—an app that records the performance of UX, GPU, RAM, CPU, I/O, etc.— Qualcomm’s chip leads the pack.

    Where the Snapdragon 845 really shines is the chip’s new Adreno 630 GPU, which beats all competitors, even the iPhone X, when it comes to gaming performance. Anandtech added that the 845 was also ahead of its rivals in terms of battery life. "Qualcomm current generations of SoCs are simply unmatched and the gap is so wide that I do not expect upcoming rival solutions to be able to catch up this year.”

    We’ll have to wait and see how the benchmarks translate into real-world performance when the first Snapdragon 845 smartphones arrive, starting with Samsung's Galaxy S9 on February 25.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,424   +1,587

    So the CPU is finally benching at the same level as a year old apple part, as is to be expected, so we should expect real world performance to be around A8 or maybe A9 performance. The GPU power will simply be used up to push more 4K or 5K or 8K pixels instead of giving better performance or battery life.

    Oh, and qualcomm will stop giving out drivers in 2 years so we wont get any software updates. Again.

  3. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Guru Posts: 536   +293

    Reread the article: CPU benchmarks don't translate directly to real world performance. The A11 is the synthetic king, which matters little in day to day use. From Techadvisor:

    crocography likes this.
  4. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Booster Posts: 127   +46

    Android Authority did a video on this. Basically because iOS chips are 64bit only they have a huge performance advantage over the current snapdragon silicon which is apparently more optimised to 32bit than 64. Also because Apple own the chip they have designed it specifically for their smartphones whereas the snapdragon parts can be used in a whole array of devices and need to accommodate all. Certainly to me it seems all the top android phones in any given year tend to have the same CPUs. I’m guessing this 845 will be the 2018 Android flagship part across the board.
  5. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Guru Posts: 536   +293

    I'd like to see that video. Do you have the link?

    At this point for the workloads we use on our phones raw processing power is taking a backseat to efficiency much like how mobile Intel processors did in laptops. Improvements are welcome but the processing power of a phone with dead battery is pretty low.
  6. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Booster Posts: 127   +46

    I’m genuinely worried about your mental health if you watch this video. I remember you. The bloke who gets abusive if people dare say anything good about iOS!
  7. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Guru Posts: 536   +293

    Considering I've never been that person I'm genuinely worried about your reading comprehension. I have nothing against iOS or any operating system. I do take issue with championing meaningless "wins" as though they have value.

    In the previous conversation the point of contention was the difference between synthetic benchmarks and real world performance. As this article and TechAdvisor confirms CPU benchmarks do not translate into a noticeable real-world performance advantage.

    Thank you for the link though but it appears that the embedding didn't work on your post.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  8. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,395   +1,171

    Jump to Forum Mode.
  9. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Guru Posts: 536   +293

    Thanks to you as well.
  10. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Guru Posts: 536   +293

    Excellent Video with a lot of information (if a bit on the guessing side). The conclusion of the video sums it up nicely - the A11 is the paper champ but owning the 835 (since the video was old) will not have a diminishing effect on real world use.

    I thought the point about the size of the processors and where margins could be made was telling. Since Android handset manufacturers are competing on super tight margins increasing the size and losing money for no real gain other than synthetic benchmarks makes little sense.
  11. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Booster Posts: 127   +46

    The video is 4 months and 12 days old. I wouldn’t call that old myself. I’d say it’s very relevant especially as the 835 and the bionic chip are the two current processors on he market today.

    The videos conclusion appears to say that iPhones are a whole generation ahead of Android but that one it only takes Apple to make a mistake for the gap to close actually.

    The bionic chip is the real world champ and the paper champ.

    From the article the video is based on:

    “There is no denying that Apple has a world class CPU design team that has consistently produced the best SoCs in the world over the last few years. Apple’s success isn’t magic. It is a result of excellent engineering, a good lead time over its competitors, and the luxury of making SoCs with lots of silicon for one or two products at a time.

    I predict that we won’t see a SoC from Qualcomm, Samsung or Huawei that can beat Apple’s latest SoC, in terms of raw CPU power unless one of the following happens:

    • Apple stumbles and produces a “bad” SoC. This means it will lose its lead against the other OEMs.
    • One of the leading chip makers decides to build an expensive CPU with a large surface area and lots of silicon dedicated to things like cache etc.”
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    Kenrick likes this.
  12. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Guru Posts: 536   +293

    This cannot be denied and the evidence is clear as day. The point in this article, the Techadvisor one linked, and even the video is that those performance metrics do not translate into real world advantages. It's a neat fact but until it translates into a real world advantage it's bragging rights only.
  13. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Booster Posts: 127   +46

    I think you will find it does translate actually. This link shows an iPhone encoding a 4K video in 42 seconds whilst the Note 8 took 3 minutes and 3 seconds. It seems the real world difference is bigger than the synthetic difference.


    I think a lot of this is also down to the iphones memory controller being a lot faster aswell. The combination of the 2 really do make the phone a few times faster than the 835 in real world use. It’s quite impressive if you ask me. Hats off to the Apple engineers.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  14. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 317   +314

    I wonder how many people, like me, use their smartphone primarily as a phone. I also use my $50 K8 (2017) to cast to my Chromecast. It's still great that tech moves forward so that future low end phones will be more awesome.
  15. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 524   +339

    I'd be curious to see how a Zen or Intel chip could rival these mobile kittens. Would one or two Zen cores with a couple Vega cores trounce these pipsqueaks still? A couple Intel cores with a few Nvidia GPU cores?

    Apple used the same campaigning with their Mac Pros, and of course they couldn't withstand the test of time. I'm not a fan of Android at all, it's a complete mess of a slOperating System, but I do find it telling that Apple's benchmarks are so far ahead of Qualcomm and the rest. Reminds me a lot of the early 1980s, when they sold their 1MHz chip for $2K and Commodore's was only $300, with more RAM to boot.
  16. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Booster Posts: 127   +46

    My iPhone 8plus gets a better single core score than my brothers MacBook. I’m not sure what CPU he has but it is a modern Intel part.

    A quick google search reveals this;

    Impressive stuff. But I can’t really tell from using it, sure my phone is snappy but I don’t really render on it or use anything intensive. I do get the sense that there is a lot of background processing going on when I take pictures, it’s hard to tell.
  17. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 524   +339

    Being faster than a MacBook isn't exactly a great feat, of course, since those are just toys anymore. But that background processing you "feel"? Yeah, that's Langley. I see a very similar effect with my stupid Android phone, only that's NSA instead. Branding is everything to these ghosty people and agencies.
  18. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,395   +1,171

    Sorry, That test I don't trust for several reasons:

    1) It doesn't say what software on the Android or iPhone it used to edit said videos.
    2) Was the Video H.264 or H.265 rendered? That can make a dramatic difference on the Android if they're using some obscure editing software that doesn't use Snapdragons dedicated encoder.
    3) I have a phone with the Snapdragon 835 and I've recorded quite a few 4k videos (went skiing) and just used the GoPro Quik app to string some videos together and then output and it never took over 3 minutes (hell it barely takes over a minutes) to render 2 minutes worth of footage.

    I'm not saying the Snapdragon is faster than the A11 (it definitely isn't) but absolutely no way is that video test legit. Or the PDF opening... Just tested that on my phone, I can open a 21mb PDF in less than 4 seconds, they couldn't get a 5mb PDF to open any quicker than 6 seconds?!

    I cba to go through and test all of them on my phone, But that test feels biased to me, like the Samsung had a crap SD card in and they deliberately ran everything off the SD card to make the results look worse.
  19. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Booster Posts: 127   +46

    Might be mate, I’m in no position to check it. It was the result of a quick google search on my phone. And I definitely agree that it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

    I do find it interesting though, how far will apples chips go? It seems like their engineering team is on point.
  20. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,395   +1,171

    Fairs, I'm not disputing the other results there at all, pretty certain they're relatively accurate, but I use an iPhone 8 as my work phone and I have a Sony Xperia XZ Premium as my personal phone and I've never had a noticeable difference loading PDF's between the two.

    Apple is definitely on point, ever since the A7 they've been quite ahead of the pack, I've gotta say, it's been 4 generations or so but Snapdragon are getting there, sure, CPU scores still aren't as good but they've got the faster modem, dedicated Encoders and Decoders, GPU's that actually can match or in the 845's case, beat Apples equivalent. Apple still massively wrecks when it comes to it's memory controller though. When you read up on how the A11 moves data around it's pretty astonishing, I guess that's where the extra billion transistors go over the 835.
  21. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 524   +339

    None of these engineering teams is "on point". That's why they're using ARM designs and electron-level processing instead of developing their own, and moving forward to photon-level processing. These people are doing a good job with the tools at hand, but to be an electrical engineer in 2018 and still think that electricity is caused by electrons is just unforgivable. It's a sure sign they're going to milk this defunct tech for all it's worth, for as long as they possibly can. Meanwhile the consumer suffers with overheated, slow processors capped below 5GHz and constant, tiny upgrades to this slow tech.

    My opponents will say, "Well why don't YOU just make a new chip, Jared the Fagon?"

    Because I'm a theorist, CGI tech, and a physics student, not an engineer - that's why. But these guys are telling us 1+1=3 and I'm here to tell you it's actually 2. You're welcome.
  22. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Booster Posts: 127   +46

    I prefer a more positive outlook, the market dictates chip supply and pricing, not physics. I think it’s best to just get on with it. Maybe they are both awful but one appears to be quite a lot less awful than the other right now and I’m interested in how far they go and what they are going to do with it.

    Oh and don’t you worry, I wouldn’t ever ask you to make a better chip. But I wouldn’t stop you if you could :).
  23. OcelotRex

    OcelotRex TS Guru Posts: 536   +293

    I agree with you that on-board memory speed is more important than processor speed at this point when comparing top of the line processors (it's been that way for a long time in computers as well). That being said the Tom's Guide link doesn't give any methodology on the video rendering test rendering it useless (I like puns).

    To the Business Insider link you posted: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp....-more-powerful-than-a-2017-macbook-pro-2017-9

    They come to the same conclusion this site, TechAdvisor, etc, et al. that I've been repeating ad nauseam:

    "Benchmark performances don't always translate to real-life, day-to-day performance, however. For the most part, flagship smartphones execute daily tasks in the blink of an eye, so the giant performance gap takes place behind the curtains. (The OnePlus 5 ranked higher than the iPhone 7, for instance.)"
  24. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 439   +122

    Other reviews said 845 not as fast and iPhone X chip???
  25. Burty117

    Burty117 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,395   +1,171

    Only the GPU is faster, the CPU is still slower.

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