Qualcomm Snapdragon 855: This is a phrase you will hear again and again in 2019, for this is the processor that will go inside most of the top Android phones. Samsung Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7, Google Pixel 4, Xiaomi Mi 9… all of these phones are likely to be powered by the Snapdragon 855, which has been announced by Qualcomm at its third Snapdragon Summit in Maui, Hawaii.
So, what all we know about this processor? A lot actually, although how well the processor performs and how cool it runs we will know fully once the phone with it starts appearing in 2019. But if the Snapdragon 845 is any indication, you can expect the Snapdragon 855 to be another superstar.
The Snapdragon 855 uses new chip architecture built on 7nm process technology. Such has probably helped Qualcomm put more hardware-specific features in the chip. Qualcomm says that the Snapdragon is designed to offer users long-lasting battery life and superior camera performance, better audio quality and improved gaming performance. Let’s take a quick look at what all is new in the Snapdragon 855.
The Snapdragon 855 supports 5G connectivity and is right now the first processor — mobile or desktop — to do so. It offers this connectivity by using an integrated Snapdragon X50 5G modem.
With Snapdragon X50 modem the Snapdragon 855 supports 5G for both Sub-6 GHz and mmWave frequency bands, which will overall provide a “blazing-fast responsiveness and unprecedented speeds”. With the help of mmWave frequency bands, Qualcomm says users will get up to 20x faster average performance compared to some of current networks. The Snapdragon 855 also offers next generation Wi-Fi performance via the Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6 mobile platform, which comes with features like 8×8 sounding to serve more devices more efficiently (up to 2x improvement over 4×4 sounding devices), Target Wakeup Time for up to 67 per cent better power efficiency, and the latest security with WPA3.
Snapdragon 855 performance
The Snapdragon 855 comes with Qualcomm’s custom Kryo 485 CPU built on Arm Cortex Technology. It offers up to a 45 per cent performance improvement over the Snapdragon 845. The new chipset also comes packed with a new Qualcomm Adreno 640 GPU that is tailored to provide up to 20 per cent faster graphics than the previous generation chipset. Actual performance in phones will be something that we will see only in 2019, but recently a few benchmarks were leaked and in those benchmarks, the Snapdragon 855 was seen beating Snapdragon 845 and Huawei Kirin 980 handily.
With the Snapdragon 855, Qualcomm is trying to improve the way images are processed and the speed at which these images are processed. The Snapdragon 855 comes with the new Qualcomm Spectra 380 ISP that integrates several hardware accelerated computer vision (CV) capabilities, “enabling the world’s first announced CV-ISP to provide cutting-edge computational photography and video capture features while at the same time offering up to 4x power savings.”
The CV-ISP includes hardware-based depth sensing which will allow video capture, object classification, and object segmentation all in real-time in 4K HDR at 60fps. This, in other words means, users will be able to capture a video and replace selected objects or backgrounds in the scene in real-time with 4K HDR resolution. All this will be done using over 1 billion shades of colour.
The new Qualcomm Spectra 380 ISP is also the first ISP to support video recording that use HDR10+ to encode the footage. Additionally, the Snapdragon 855 adds hardware acceleration for HEIF file format encoding, which reduces the overall file sizes by 50 per cent.
Artificial Intelligence performance
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 features the company’s 4th-generation multi-core AI Engine, which offers almost three times the AI performance compared to the previous generation Snapdragon 845. The chipset also comes packed with new Qualcomm Hexagon 690 processor, which has a new Hexagon Tensor Accelerator (HTA) and four Hexagon Vector eXtensions (HVX) that provides a dedicated and programmable AI acceleration for app developers and Android maker like Google.
Entertainment and gaming
“Snapdragon 855 provides consumers with an upgraded entertainment platform for more realistic gaming, improved cinematics, and higher performing XR,” Qualcomm says.
The Snapdragon 855 comes with the new Snapdragon Elite Gaming Experience the includes features like – cinematic colour grading in true HDR, filmic tone-mapping, demanding physically based rendering (PBR), and support for the Vulkan 1.1 graphics library. Qualcomm claims that even the most advanced games will run smoother with the Snapdragon 855, because it uses “custom algorithms designed to reduce dropped frames by less than 90 per cent.
With the Snapdragon 855, the multiplayer gaming is improved by reducing latencies, says Qualcomm. Additionally, with the Snapdragon Qualcomm is also improving the overall audio experience with the new Qualcomm aptX Adaptive audio codec and support for Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus.
3D Sonic Sensor
This is kind of big because this means death of physical fingerprint sensor in phones. The Snapdragon 855 comes with a new feature that Qualcomm calls 3D Sonic Sensor. It is the world’s first commercial ultrasonic fingerprint solution supported under the display. This means that we can expect phones like Samsung Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 7 to come with ultrasonic in display fingerprint sensor, which will be faster at unlocking phones and will work even dirty and wet fingers.