Technology giant Qualcomm just revealed more information on its new, flagship system on a chip (SoC), the Snapdragon 865. After unveiling the processor yesterday on day 1 of the “2019 Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit”, day 2 included much more detail of the chip coming in next year’s flagships.
One of Qualcomm’s most significant focus points for the keynote was the widespread adoption of 5G capable devices for 2020 and beyond. The Snapdragon 865 platform leverages the power of the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem to deliver speeds up to 7.5 Gbps (billions of bits per second). That’s a lot faster than even some wired connections.
The modem supports important 5G technology such as mmWave and sub-6. Also, the X55 is compatible with NSA (non-standalone) and SA (standalone) modes “along with Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), global 5G roaming and support for multi-SIM.”
Alongside 5G support, the Snapdragon 865 boasts improved WiFi 6 and Bluetooth capabilities. The Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 system supports WiFi speeds up to 1.7 Gbps. The FastConnect 6800 also supports Bluetooth 5.1 and Qualcomm aptX Voice audio allowing greater clarity and lower latency calls over Bluetooth.
The Snapdragon 865 doesn’t have the modem integrated within the processor. Instead, the modem sits outside. Qualcomm claims this is the best design for speed and efficiency.
The Snapdragon 865 has an Octa-core CPU with Kryo 585 cores. The high-performance Prime core goes up to 2.84 GHz. And of course, the new processor is built on 64-bit architecture.
According to Qualcomm, the new CPU is 25 per cent faster than the previous Snapdragon 855. The Adreno 650 graphics sub-system is also 25 per cent quicker than the previous generation. These performance gains, along with on-device AI, enables some tremendous mobile advancements.
There’s excellent news for mobile gamers. The Snapdragon 865 platform enables many “first-to-mobile” PC-like gaming experiences.
The 865 supports Desktop Forward Rendering. The technology allows game developers to code games with desktop-class, dynamic lighting, shading and colours for more realistic gameplay on mobile. The chip also supports QHD+ displays at 144Hz. The new Game Smoother technology allows games to run at any refresh rate for jitter-free 60fps+ gameplay.
The new chip allows for updatable graphics drivers. Gamers can go to the Google Play Store and update drivers for better performance over time.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Qualcomm also improved the AI capabilities of the Snapdragon 865. For one, the company added more on-device AI processing power. The 865 has 2x more AI processing power than the 855 it replaces. At 15 trillion operations per second, this is Qualcomm’s most powerful mobile AI hardware to date.
When snapping a photo, the AI engine works together with the ISP to identify specific parts of the image and adjust accordingly. Processes such as noise reduction and sharpening will be applied to specific areas rather than the entire photo.
The 865 includes a new Sensing Hub. This sub-system chip is designed to make the phone more aware. Voice recognition and text to speech functionality, security and geo-location all stand to benefit from the hardware. Qualcomm showed how the chip could process voice and input and translate it to another language without the internet all thanks to better onboard AI hardware.
Improvements for Photo and Video capture
Qualcomm made some improvements to its Image Signal Processor (ISP). The new Spectra 480 ISP has some impressive capabilities.
Let’s get the most prominent news out the way first. The Snapdragon 865 supports 8K video recording and playback at 30 frames per second. Let that sink in. Additionally, the new platform supports up to 200 MP photos. There’s also support for 4K video recording at a whopping 120 fps as well as continuous 960 fps slow-motion recording at 720p.
The Image Signal Processor (ISP) also supports simultaneous 4K video recording and 64 MP photo capture. The ISP also enables Dolby Vision video capture for HDR content.
The immense processing power of the new ISP enables all these features. Qualcomm claims the Spectra 480 “operates at staggering speeds of up to 2 gigapixels per second.”
All the stellar sounding improvements depend on how manufacturers like Samsung or LG utilise the capabilities of the Snapdragon 865 platform.
New devices with the Snapdragon 865 arrive in the first quarter of 2020.