As the much awaited Mobile World Congress 2018 (MWC) approaches, it is hard to keep anticipation under wraps when it comes to the next generation of flagship devices from smartphone makers across the world.
The reason for the same is that a number of smartphone players such as HMD Global, Sony, LG and Samsung will showcase their flagship devices during the event and most of these devices are likely to be powered by Qualcomm's latest flagship System-on-Chip (SoC), the Snapdragon 845.
Another reason to get excited is that Qualcomm is no longer the only SoC provider as new players such as Samsung with its Exynos and Huawei with its Kirin SoC have grown in recent years. Xiaomi is also experimenting with its own chips. This year will be particularly essential with Apple planning on giving up on Qualcomm chips and opting for Intel. Google also appears to be developing its own custom chips for the Pixel devices.
Qualcomm launched its latest SoC at the ‘Snapdragon Summit’ in Hawaii. During the launch announcement, the company clarified that the 845 would focus on having improved functionality in the areas of extended reality (XR), on-device artificial intelligence (AI), improved connectivity speeds and a brand new Secure Processing Unit (SPU). The SPU seems to be a bit like Apple's secure enclave, a separate processor that will take care of all security considerations for your phone, including biometric security.
The 845 platform packs in a CPU with four performance Kryo 385 processor cores clocked at up to 2.8 GHz and four efficiency cores clocked at up to 1.8 GHz, these are built on a 10nm LPP FinFET process. The SoC also comes with an integrated Qualcomm Spectra 280 image signal processor and Adreno 630 graphics processing unit. With 845-powered devices soon coming to the market, Qualcomm sent out reference devices with its latest chipset to select websites for their analysis and review. AnandTech did a detailed review of the chip, and here are the highlights from their report.
According to in-depth analysis and benchmarks by AnandTech, as expected, Snapdragon 845 packs a punch in terms of CPU performance. However, the report pointed out that it was expecting the CPU scores to be better than what the results pointed out. It went on to add that the Snapdragon 845 has crucial improvements across the board, ranging from the improved modem to the audio codec. The company is not just focusing on the raw computing power of the 845. Instead, it has improved the overall package, which improves the user experience while bringing improvements to CPU and GPU performance.
The report also points out that the preliminary results from the CPU seem to be incremental instead of significant or groundbreaking. The report notes that customers will have to wait till 2019 before a later generation chip truly shines takes things up a notch. They term this year's improvements as "conservative".
An notable point from AnandTech's report is that GPU performance is a major leap forward over the Adreno 630 unit on the older 835. This widens the existing gap between Snapdragon and its competitors when it comes to what the SoC can achieve in terms of graphics performance. Qualcomm has also worked on power efficiency and AnandTech pointed out that 845-powered devices should generally showcase ‘excellent battery life.’
Qualcomm still has to do some catching up when it comes to graphics performance when compared to the performance of the iPhone X and its A11 Bionic chipset, as pointed out by Tech Advisor. However, the 845 did score more than the iPhone X in Antutu’s combined benchmarks.
The thing to note here is that all these benchmarks were made on Qualcomm’s reference platform device and it is still very much up to individual smartphone makers to optimise their devices to achieve maximum performance and stability. Cooling performance is also a big factor in benchmarks and depending on how it's implemented by manufacturers, performance will vary by a fair margin.
Either way, the 845 appears to be a significant improvement over its predecessor, and that in itself might justify an upgrade.
Updated Date: Feb 14, 2018 18:42 PM