Event Coverage

Qualcomm showcases what the Snapdragon 820 can do

By Ian Chee - 1 Apr 2016

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820: Feature recap - page 1

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 820 has already made an appearance in a number of flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, as well as the Sony Xperia X Performance and the Xiaomi Mi 5 that you've heard of during the recent MWC 2016. Recently, the company held an event  to showcase what the SoC can do. Most of these have already been explored during MWC 2016, but we've managed to see how some of these features actually work in practice.

Image source: Qualcomm.

Jim Cathey, Vice President & President, Asia Pacific & India, Qualcomm Technologies Inc. has proudly proclaimed that the Snapdragon 820 boasts many features that are either the first, or best in the market. The former would suggest a lot of new ingredients in the SoC, like the X12 LTE modem, the new Kryo CPU - the company custom 64-bit quad-core 14nm CPU, and the new Adreno 530 GPU.

Jim Cathey during the opening keynote of the event.

Kryo CPU

Peter Carson, Senior Director of Marketing, Qualcomm Incorporated, compared the number of cores on a processor to the number of cylinders in a car engine: having more doesn't necessary mean better, and the number of lanes the car has to drive on makes a bigger difference. Check out our previous feature on it to see how the statement makes sense.

Image source: AnandTech.

Adreno 530 GPU

The Adreno 530 GPU found on the Snapdragon 820 SoC is said to be 40 percent more powerful than the preceding Adreno 430, while also being 40 percent more power efficient. Nothing much that has been revealed is new, but it does serve as a reminder of sorts that this new GPU supports Vulcan, which may mean much better performance for applications that make use of it.

Hexagon 680 DSP

Image source: Qualcomm.

Much like a multi-core CPU, the Hexagon 680 DSP is made up of three parts, one for processing audio, voice, images and other low-power computing tasks, a “low-power island” for specially designated sensors, and a third modem DSP that deals with global LTE and tasks like carrier aggregation. All this put together means these specific tasks are handled by the DSP, which means less power consumed by the main CPU. This is especially so for the “low-power island” which handles sensors that are “always on” like motion sensors when your device is used as a step tracker.

X12 LTE modem

In short, what you get with the X12 LTE modem is support for LTE Cat 12 speeds (up to 600Mbps) for the downlink, and LTE Cat 13 speeds (up to 150Mbps) for uplink on mobile data. On the Wi-Fi side of things, you get - at long last - support for MU-MIMO, which will finally make full use of MU-MIMO routers such as the Linksys EA8500 and quite a few others that came after it. There’s also support for 802.11ad standard, which will be official sometime this year giving Wi-Fi a third band (60GHz in addition to 2.4GHz and 5GHz) that provides a theoretical peak rate up to 4.6Gbps.