Devices With The 32-Bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 To Start Shipping In May

January 9, 2014 - Written By Lucian Armasu

Qualcomm has revealed to a Japanese publication that the first devices with its new Snapdragon 805 chip will start appearing in May this year. That sounds like it should be ready just in time for some new flagships such as the Galaxy S5 and HTC One Plus (or whatever HTC’s new flagship will be called).

The Snapdragon 805 should be a higher clocked 2.5 Ghz version of the Snapdragon 800, that will also arrive with a new Adreno 400 GPU, which will need to be at around 300 Gflops to be competitive with Tegra K1 (365 peak Gflops) at that point in time, but I worry it will only be of about 200-250 Gflops (roughly 2x more than Adreno 330).

It will also be more focused on image capabilities, 4k video decoding and encoding while supporting the new HEVC proprietary codec (not the open source VP9 codec, yet, unfortunately), and things like ultrasound-based handwriting and drawing.

My big issue with Qualcomm’s new chip is that it doesn’t utilize a new CPU core, like they were supposed to use, two years after they first introduced the Krait CPU core. Samsung, Nvidia, ARM and even Apple are all building new cores every 2 years (Apple actually built the new Cyclone core only a year after Swift, to make it compatible with ARMv8), but Qualcomm seems to be the only one wanting to use Krait for 3 years.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if we were straight in the middle of the ARMv7 architecture adoption, but we’re at the very end of its life cycle, just when ARMv8 is supposed to come out.That means that Qualcomm is actively slowing down the adoption of ARMv8, especially since they have a large portion of the mobile chip market, and OEMs will keep using their chips, and if you want to buy a new phone this year that you will want to keep for a while, you’re not going to be very future-proofed, if you buy a phone with a 32-bit Qualcomm chip. 

We can only hope Qualcomm is working hard to release a high-end ARMv8 chip by the end of the year, just like everyone else, but I fear they didn’t have any plans for releasing a 64-bit chip even in 2014 (like ARM, Samsung and Nvidia), so there may not be a 64-bit chip from Samsung until the middle of 2015.