Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 845, a new 10nm mobile processor that brings new features like 4K HDR video capture on smartphones, better battery life and improved AI processing.
The Snapdragon 845 octa-core SoC includes the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem, Wi-Fi, Hexagon 685 DSP, Qualcomm Aqstic Audio, Adreno 630 visual processing, Spectra 280 image signal processing, Kryo 385 CPU, and memory.
The 845 has a similar octa-core architecture to the 835, consisting of four "performance" cores that can handle more taxing tasks but require more power, and four "efficiency" cores that run lighter tasks. The performance cores can go up to 2.8GHz clock speed, while the efficiency modules can reach 1.8GHz. The Kryo 385 CPU also features 2MB shared L3 cache and 3MB system cache. According to Qualcomm, a new architecture and configuration will lead to 30 percent faster graphics, 30 percent better power efficiency, and 2.5x faster display throughput, compared to the Snapdragon 835.
Qualcomm is also focusing on AI, Immersion, security, connectivity and immersion with the new chip.
Immersion means the ability to capture and render the world around you at high resolutions and quality for more realistic results.
The Adreno 630 graphics processor and Qualcomm's Spectra 280 image signal processor (ISP) allow for "Ultra HD premium" video capture at 60 frames per second. Qualcomm says that the smarphones powered by the Snapdragon 845 will score above 100 on DxOMark (photpgraphy performance). Snapdragon 845's camera features also include deep portrait, multi-frame noise reduction, 30 percent power reduction for video, depth based face recognition, accelerated image stabilization, and more. The Spectra ISP adds native support for iris scanning even if you're wearing sun glasses.
Snapdragon 845 will also come with Adreno Foveation, which tracks the viewer's gaze to optimize image rendering for the center of what you're looking at while "blurring out" the surroundings. There will also be natural voice processing improvements.
The Spectra ISP collects more color data with a combination of three methods - moving from 8-bit to 10-bit color, expanding its color gamut from Rec 709 to Rec 2020, and increasing luminance.
Regarding XR (extended reality), Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 845 will enable devices to achieve world-scale tracking. Previously, the Snapdragon 835 enabled 6-DoF tracking. Now, you can move about a room freely and still be detected within your virtual environment.
The new chipset also brings about improvements for AI processing. Machine learning on the Snapdragon 845 will allow users to take bokeh photos using only one camera, rather than using two cameras found on smartphones.
Being Qualcomm's third-generation mobile AI platform, the focus is on core optimizations. This means the processor will assign tasks to different cores to execute based on the type of power needed. Developers will also be able to choose which cores to use -- whether it's the Hexagon 685 digital signal processor (DSP), the GPU or the Kryo CPU. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 845 executes AI tasks three times faster than its predecessor.
Snapdragon 845 will support a variety of popular AI frameworks like Google's TensorFlow, Facebook's Caffe 2, as well as the newer Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX).
Snapdragon 845 also improves voice-driven smart assistants with improved always-on keyword detection and ultra-low-power voice processing thanks to the performance from the Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec (WCD9341) and low-power audio subsystem, so users can interact with their devices using their voice all day.
In terms of security, Qualcomm has added a new "Secure Processing Unit" (SPU) to the Snapdragon 845. The SPU has its own processor, random number generator, memory and power island to defend against attacks. This vault provides a third level of security on top of the two existing layers, and is designed to protect biometric information - your fingerprint, iris or face authentication data. The SPU will also handle authorizations for payments, transit and SIM cards.
The Snapdragon 845 will feature the company's second-generation gigabit LTE modem, called the X20. The modem supports LTE Category 18 peak download speeds of 1.2 Gbps, up to 5x carrier aggregation, License Assisted Access (LAA), Dual SIM-Dual VoLTE as well as 4x4 MIMO on up to 3 aggregated carriers. It will enable 20 percent improvement in peak and real world speeds over the X16 modem on the 835 chip. One of the biggest changes is support for five-carrier aggregation now, an increase from four-carrier before, as well as open up access to unlicensed spectrums. Qualcomm says the 845 can achieve wireless fiber speeds that enable downloads of two-hour videos in two minutes or less. In addition, the chip will offer more robust Wi-Fi performance - up to Multi-gigabit 11ad.
Samsung, Google, and LG used Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chip in 2017 to power their flagships, and it's likely more smartphone makers will follow suit next year. Samsung's Galaxy S9 has been rumored to feature the new Qualcomm chipset, along with Samsung's Exynos SoC.
The octa-core chip built on Samsung's 10nm process will be in devices starting in early 2018.