Qualcomm announced its 10nm Snapdragon 835 at CES 2017. The new smartphone SoC sports impressive upgrades across all its subsystems.
The 835 features an upgraded Kyro 280 eight-core CPU, Hexagon 682 DSP, 540 Adreno GPU, Qualcomm Spectra 180 ISP, Quick Charge 4.0, as well as an integrated X16 LTE modem with what Qualcomm calls "gigabit-class LTE connectivity." Overall, it sports a 35% decrease in package size with 25% better power efficiency compared to the existing 821.
Interestingly, the 835 is also the company's first ARM-based processor to support Windows 10 on a mobile device. Microsoft is adding x86 emulation on ARM to Windows 10, so this could be seen as a "threat" to Intel. It may also be a step in Microsoft bringing Windows server to ARM as well.
The 835 is expected to debut in the next generation of premium smartphones when it ships in the first half of 2017.
Samsung will likely continue using a mix of its own Exynos and Qualcomm Snapdragon processors for its high-end smartphones, such as the upcoming Galaxy S8 series.
Qualcomm said the 835 is designed to support "next-generation entertainment and connected cloud services" in a range of consumer devices, including smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs and other devices running Android and Windows 10.
The SoC sports the Kyro 280 CPU with four performance cores running at up to 2.45 GHz and four efficiency cores running up to 1.9 GHz. Compared to the 821's Kyro 260, that's a slight performance bump of 0.05 GHz in clock speed, but a notable upgrade in power efficiency: Kyro 280 doubles the number of efficiency cores of the 260.
The Symphony System Manager tool returns in the 835, enabling OEM and Android developers to specify which core should run each task.The 835 upgrades the Hexagon 682 DSP to support Google's TensorFlow machine learning framework and Halide, a programming language for digital imaging.
The Adreno 540 sports a 25% increase in 3D graphics rendering performance, support for up to 60 times more colors and a 10-bit color gamut. Qualcomm claims the 835 is the first mobile SoC to deliver 4K capture (H.264) and playback needed for Ultra HD Premium.
A new feature called Q-Sync matches the display's refresh rate with the GPU's render rate to eliminate sudden frame rate drops. However, it's unclear whether the Adreno 540 can deliver VR at 120 frames/second.
The Spectra 180 imaging processor features two 14-bit pipelines that permits the use of a single 32 MPixel or dual 16 MP cameras. Additional features like smooth optical zoom, fast auto-focus and hybrid autofocus enhances photography, while "perceptual quantization" improves video quality by using machine learning to adjust encoding bit rates based on scene relevance.
The X16 LTE modem in the 835 supports several LTE technologies that pave the way to 5G, including 3x carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM. Together, they achieve an LTE Category 16 throughput of up to 979 Mbits/second - a nearly 50% improvement over the X12 LTE in the Snapdragon 821 with its Cat 12 support.
The 16X LTE modem features Bluetooth 5, and integrated 2x2 Wi-Fi supporting 802.11ac MU-MIMO with up to 50% reduction in size and a 60% reduction in Wi-Fi power consumption compared to the 820.