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Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

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14 Sep Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

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Qualcomm Inc. may not be the most well-known company in the smartphone marketplace, mainly because it is actually not making any smartphones, but rather semiconductors used within them. The SoC, CPU and GPU chipsets and processors are all part of the product line of smartphone and tablet units generally branded under the Qualcomm owned name Snapdragon. These chipsets are considered to be the best and most powerful currently available on the market, despite fierce competition by Samsung’s own Exynos, MediaTek’s Helio and Intel Atom, just to name a few. Despite this competition, Qualcomm decided to have the manufacturing of the Snapdragon 820 be handled by none other than Samsung.

Announced already at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, which took place beginning of March 2015, Qualcomm also defined the next step in flagship smartphone capabilities, although the actual extent will be determined later, when any such Smartphones, carrying the Snapdragon 820, get announced and all features get properly listed. By now it is known that the Snapdragon 820 will have a completely new architecture, the Qualcomm Hexagon 680 DSP – digital signal processor. These are being used for offloading tasks and thus, result in lower power consumption. As an example, Qualcomm estimates that the battery life will be, through the use of the Hexagon 680 DSP, doubled during performance of a task such as the mp3 playback, when compared to the battery duration of Nexus 5, performing the same task.

As per the Qualcomm official announcement, two main new features are being introduced by the Hexagon 680 DSP, the first one being the complete separation of the sensor processing, which is now being handled by a separate DSP. Smartphones that are constantly on, even when they are in the sleep mode and then for whatever reason awaken, immediately start up the sensors, which consume energy. While being on, sensors constantly detect (as proven by the auto rotate function, for instance) and use the main DSP for processing, which consumes a lot of power. This adds up to a significantly shorter battery life during the day.

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The second improvement is a new hardware component called HVX, which stands in for Hexagon Vector eXtensions. This hardware improvement technology has something to do with the ISP and DSP communication, as well as imaging and computer vision components of the chipset, together with the Qualcomm Spectra camera ISP. The idea is to provide enhancement in low light recording environments, so that videos and pictures can experience better low light video or picture processing during recording, but also to make that happen faster and with significantly reduced power consumption. The current data estimates that the whole process will consume only 1/10th of the power required by Snapdragon 820 predecessors.

Many smartphone manufacturers have already announced new smartphones featuring the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, for instance HTC announcing the HTC One M10, or if rumours are true HTC Two; the HTC Aero, which may turn out to be HTC Two as well; the LG G4 pro is also rumoured to contain the new chipset; the OnePlus three is expected to be more advanced than the OnePlus two, which has the Snapdragon 810; depending on the final release date, the BlackBerry “Venice” was at some point associated with the Snapdragon 820; Xiaomi Mi 5 has been covertly announced featuring the new Qualcomm top processor and so forth. It will be interesting to find out how much the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 will improve on the overall performance and features, but the first devices are not expected to roll in before October 2015.

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