Qualcomm’s Monster Snapdragon 845 Chip Set Coming For Top 2018 Phones
Stephan Jukic – December 6, 2017
Qualcomm has a long history of building some of the most powerful SoC (system on a chip) processors for tablets and smartphones, especially for powerhouse and flagship phones of the kind that also come with 4K ultra HD video recording or possibly even UHD display. Samsung in particular has used their chips extensively in the past and will be doing so again, in the company of other phone makers in 2018 with the upcoming release of the latest and most powerful processor in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of SoC chips.
This is the 845 and it’s tagged to become the replacement to last year’s extremely popular Snapdragon 835 chipset, which was installed in numerous phone models, including Samsung’s Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus phones from 2017. Previous to the 835, Qualcomm had also built the powerful 820 and 821 chipsets for older flagship phone models. In other words, the company knows its stuff when it comes to high end smartphone chipset technology.
The Snapdragon 845 for its part is going to likely be a major player for some of 2018’s best and brightest flagship Android phones from the major brands. One phone that’s most heavily slated for the Snapdragon 845 is Samsung’s upcoming S9. It’s however also rumored that the chipset will possibly even work its way into certain Windows 10 laptop and PC devices due to its high power.
The hardware and processing expansion that the 845 delivers over the 835 is no small thing either. Qualcomm is claiming a 3X performance increase and in particular, some serious enhancements for handling of 4K UHD HDR video needs in display devices. Here are some details on all that:
The Snapdragon 845 is directed explicitly at next year’s major flagship phones, so this obviously means some truly serious video and graphics handing capability. Upon unveiling the chipset, Qualcomm emphasized these particular specs and their details bear this out. The chipset will come with the same 10nm footprint as its 835 predecessor but internal features include new hardware power for 4K HDR video capture in the 4K cameras that virtually all of today’s major high-end smartphones come with. There will also be improved AI processing, the usual run of performance upgrades and improved power consumption metrics despite the massively enhanced specs of the new chipset. Qualcomm has essentially said that its biggest focus points for the 845 are video, AI, immersion, security, connectivity and performance.
The immersion aspect of the new chipset is particularly interesting to us since it means capturing and processing of high end video with more realistic visuals. For this, the Snapdragon 845 will come with an Adreno 630 graphics processor and Qualcomm’s own Spectra 280 image signal processing (ISP) technology. What the inclusion of these two and the ISP in particular means is that the chipset is built to give phones the capacity to record “Ultra HD Premium” HDR wide color video in their cameras at full 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. Qualcomm even believes the chipset will be better in these regards than many full-blown DSLR or mirrorless camera models today with 4K video recording.
To help the above UHD Premium qualifications out, the Snapdraogn 845, ISP technology will also include the capability to process 10-bit color, thus expanding the color gamut capacity of the 845 from Rec 709 to Rec 2020 while also expanding luminance in a given phone’s video recording quality. In essence, these technologies will allow phones with the Snapdragon 845 to create high-end, 4K HDR TV-grade ultra HD video with full premium HDR colors meaning that users will be able to capture more shades of any given color with greater depth and superior contrast ratios.
Other major aspects of the upcoming Snapdragon 845 include AI improvement. The company has been working on machine learning for its partners since the 2016 Snapdragon 820 chipset and its Hexagon digital signal processor and an internal processing system called Hexagon Vector Extension for the complex mathematical equations needed for AI “thinking” algorithms inside the Snapdragon chipset technology. Well, basically, for the Hexagon 685 digital signal processor inside the new Snapdragon 845, this AI technology has improved to be three times better than it was in even the 2017 Snapdragon 835. How this translates to real-world benefits is something we still have to see but it is definitely a feature that Qualcomm is flogging as crucial for phone performance improvements.
In terms of Connectivity, the Snapdragon 845 is also promising some major enhancements. Qualcomm is giving it a new X20 LTE modem for 20% faster network speed, with a peak of up to 1.2Gbps (obviously far more than what most current internet networks can handle but a preparation for higher level future connectivity), and WiFi enhancements in the form of a new 802.11ad multi-gigabit wireless connectivity along with the usual 802.11ac.
The big question however is what all these specs and others translate into in practical terms for owners of 2018’s best phones. Well, if you get your hands on a 2018 flagship smartphone with Snapdragon technology, you can look forward to something between 20% and 30% better overall performance on chipset-related characteristics, a 30% overall boost in efficiency and maybe 30% better battery performance, in any phone’s new versions with the chipset inside them.
Like we mentioned above, the first phone that we can confirm as a recipient of the Snapdragon 845 chipset is Samsung’s Galaxy S9. From there other models from other makers should follow.