Not content with just one announcement, Qualcomm has pulled a few announcements out of the bag overnight, unveiling the new flagship Snapdragon 801, and two 64-bit chips based on the Cortex A53, the Snapdragon 610 and Snapdragon 615. We know that CPU internals aren’t super exciting for everyone, so we’ll go over the details as best we can without losing our audience…
We know that the future of mobile System on Chip (SoC) is 64-bit, but for now, there’s still enough demand for the older 32-bit SoCs to motivate Qualcomm to update its existing inventory. Pegged mainly as a replacement for the older Snapdragon 800, the 801 is fairly much the same as its older brother, featuring four 32-bit Krait 400 cores paired with an Adreno 330 GPU. The difference comes in the processor speeds; on average, they’ve received an 8% speed increase as you can see in the table below:
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 vs. 801|
|MSM8974 (Snapdragon 800)||MSM8974AB (Snapdragon 800)||MSM8974AC (Snapdragon 801)|
|CPU||4 x Krait 400||4 x Krait 400||4 x Krait 400|
|Max CPU Frequency||2.3GHz (2.26GHz)||2.3GHz (2.26GHz)||2.5GHz (2.45GHz)|
|GPU||Adreno 330||Adreno 330||Adreno 330|
|Max GPU Frequency||450MHz||550MHz||578MHz|
|Memory Interface||2 x 32-bit LPDDR3-1600||2 x 32-bit LPDDR3-1866||2 x 32-bit LPDDR3-1866|
|Modem||9×25 IP block, Category 4 LTE||9×25 IP block, Category 4 LTE, DS-DA||9×25 IP block, Category 4 LTE, DS-DA|
Table courtesy of AnandTech
In a nutshell, what this means is that the Snapdragon 801 is an incremental update on the older 800, and while it doesn’t offer staggering new performance, it does push the maximum speed just that little bit higher. Intensive tasks, especially graphics tasks, should see a speed boost, and support for eMMC 5 means the possibility of faster flash storage as well.
The Snapdragon 801 is slated for a Q3 release with integration in handsets from that time.
Snapdragon 610 and 615
In order to keep up with the pace of the mobile SoC market, and in particular, to meet demands of the burgeoning Chinese market, the Snapdragon 610 and 615 represent an evolution of the 64-bit SoC landscape. The Snapdragon 610 and 615 are four and eight core implementations of ARM’s Cortex A53, combined with Qualcomm’s Adreno 405 GPU and the company’s own 9×25 derived Category 4 LTE modem. The two new SoCs are also pin-compatible with the earlier Snapdragon 410, offering manufacturers an easy upgrade to a higher performance version of a 410 platform. Between the two models, the 610 features four Cortex A43 cores, and the 615 features eight, with Qualcomm as much as stating that the 615 really only exists because of the demand for such a behemoth of a chip from the Chinese market. There is speculation that both chips are actually identical, with four cores simply disabled on the 610 to offer the differentiation (and to minimise the already-high manufacturing costs).
|Qualcomm’s 64-bit SoC Lineup|
|Marketing Name||Snapdragon 615||Snapdragon 610||Snapdragon 410|
|Internal Model Number||MSM8936||MSM8939||MSM8916|
|Manufacturing Process||28nm LP||28nm LP||28nm LP|
|CPU||8 x ARM Cortex A53||4 x ARM Cortex A53||4 x ARM Cortex A53 1.2GHz+|
|ISA||32/64-bit ARMv8||32/64-bit ARMv8||32/64-bit ARMv8|
|GPU||Qualcomm Adreno 405||Qualcomm Adreno 405||Qualcomm Adreno 306|
|Memory Interface||1 x 64-bit LPDDR2/3||1 x 64-bit LPDDR2/3||1 x 64-bit LPDDR2/3|
|Integrated Modem||9×25 core, LTE Category 4, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA||9×25 core, LTE Category 4, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA||9×25 core, LTE Category 4, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA|
|Integrated WiFi||Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac||Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac||Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac|
Table courtesy of AnandTech
Without diving into the detail, it seems that on the 615, the eight cores are actually divided into two separate clusters, with Qualcomm stating the split is between low performance and a high performance clusters, suggesting one group will be used for ordinary, regular tasks, and the high-performance cluster will kick in as required. This makes some sense from a power-saving standpoint, as running all eight cores is likely to be quite power intensive, and also, quite unnecessary on a regular basis (there’s no real conceivable use case for having all eight cores active at once all the time).
As you might gather from the nomenclature, the 610 and 615 are destined to bring power to the mid-range at this stage, with the 801 (and upcoming 805) likely to keep the flagships powered in their next generation.
There you have it; those are the upcoming Snapdragons!