Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 Chipset creates a powerful foundation for 4K and VR

by on August 15, 2015

Stephan Jukic – August 15, 2015

Pioneering chipmaker Qualcomm is aiming to build a whole new customer base and possibly even regain customers lost thanks to the development and impending release of their latest flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 820.

Qualcomm, which has pioneered some very interesting 4K-ready processing technologies in the very recent past, wants to make the Snapdragon 820 into a major component of as many high-end devices as possible, including mobile phones, tablets and virtual reality headsets. And it wants to make this chip fully available in these devices by the first quarters of 2016.

As far as 4K ultra HD for tablets and smartphones goes, it has to date been a bit of a holy grail for a lot of different industry agents and while consumers themselves still don’t widely anticipate the technology’s arrival to the small mobile screen, those who watch technology have been watching for such a development very eagerly.

While the merits of 8.2 million pixels on a screen of just 5 inches are highly debatable, we can definitely say that the technology represents a serious milestone in pushing along the overall development of processing power in mobile devices –A chip that can handle 4K resolution in a smartphone also consequently has the ability to work wonders for any HD phone out there.

As for Qualcomm’s efforts in this direction, the company is counting on the Snapdragon 820 to compensate for the partial failure of the recently released Snapdragon 810. The former, highly anticipated chipset for a new generation of powerful phones ended up being ditched by Qualcomm’s biggest mobile customer and thus failed to garner a wider level of public attention in the mobile industry.

As for the 820, according to Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopph, “We’re definitely very excited about what the chip can do…. It will be very competitive. We’re working very hard with lots of potential customers for this chip. Things are going very well.” A bit of a vague statement to be sure but the specs of the Snapdragon 820 certainly do indicate one very powerful piece of SoC technology. The chip will be integrated with an array of hardcore visual processing components that are expected for next year.

the Xiaomi Mi5 is expected to include the 4K-capable Snapdragon 820 chip in its hardware

the Xiaomi Mi5 is expected to include the 4k-capable Snapdragon 820 chip in its hardware

First among these is the Adreno 5xx line of GPUs which are set to replace the Adreno 4xx already connected to the Snapdragon 808 and 810 chips. The newer Adreno 530 and 510 promise on delivery of faster speed, increased efficiency and much better performance overall against former GPUs. Qualcomm itself states that the 530 is designed to offer 40% more performance with less power use than the already excellent Adreno 430.

Furthermore, the new GPU will be able to manage the latest graphics API’s. These include OpenGL ES3.1, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan and Renderscript 2.0.

Qualcomm also says that the Adreno 530 is their highest performing version of a GPU to date. The new series thus supports 64-bit virtual addressing for letting the processors work with 64-bit CPUs with better efficiency. And, most importantly and as a major mark of what kind of power this chipset will have: the Adreno 530 can process 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. This alone is a huge achievement for a mobile device chip.

In addition to the Adreno there will also be a Spectra ISP chip built into the Snapdragon 820. This piece of technology will let devices that use the 820 capture images and video with minimal or no blur even under extremely low light conditions with more natural skin tones and a wider range of contrast. These are crucial features for any consumer who wants a smartphone that can take photos worth sharing.

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