Qualcomm have announced four new mid-range processors, the 415, 425, 618 and 620. I’ll write about the 400-series processor first, as the 415 and 425 are successors to the near ubiquitous Snapdragon 400 processor, which offered respectable performance from a 32-bit, 1.2 GHz quad core processor. This chipset was often paired up with 1 GB of memory and used in many devices including the Motorola Moto G and many Lenovo tablets. Since the original 400, Qualcomm have released the updated Snapdragon 410, which is a 64-bit quad core processor but in an announcement, they’re releasing two new 400-series processors, the Snapdragon 415 and 425, with some significant improvements over the 400 and later 410. The most significant improvement is that the 415 and 425 are switching to an octa core architecture. The 415 and 425 will be based around eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores (that’s the same 64-bit core as found in the 410) but include an integrated LTE modem; the X5 for the 415 (allowing download speeds of 150 Mbps) and the X8 for the 425 (allowing burst download speeds of 300 Mbps). The higher speed LTE modems will increase the System-on-Chip’s competitiveness compared with the competition.
For the new Snapdragon 618 and 620, these have already been leaked but now Snapdragon have confirmed the specification. Firstly, these processors are acquiring 4K video recording and playback, which first appeared in the high end 800-series family. Both the 618 and 620 will include the 300 Mbps X8 LTE modem, but there’s a difference in the detail. The 618 is a hexa core processor, combining a quad core Cortex-A53 core with a dual core Cortex-A72 unit. The 620 uses a quad core Cortex-A53 processor and a quad core Cortex-A72 processor. Both new 600-series processors will use the improved Adreno 510 graphics chip and will support dual 13MP camera modules.
All of these new mid range processors are to be built on the 28 nm die size, which is the same as many of Qualcomm’s processors for the last couple of years. Where the 415 and 425 are not yet improved is that these processors are to be built on a 28nm die size. Whilst the addition of LTE into the 400-series processors is interesting, the sweet spot may well be the 618. Sure; it has two fewer high performance cores compared with the 620, but the overwhelming majority of Android applications will only use one or two processor cores so I would not expect there to be any difference in device performance most of the time. Qualcomm report that we’ll start to see the new 400-series processors in devices before we see the new 600-series arriving (due in the second half of the year).