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Snapdragon 820 Specs Leak Out, Big Improvements Ahead

August 5, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

Where Qualcomm is concerned, luck has not been on their side throughout much of 2015. Key devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6 have decided to forego a Snapdragon processor and the Snapdragon 810 has caused them some very real headaches. You could say that Qualcomm has been burned by the 810, with the results being layoffs and some of the worst Q2 figures in the company’s history. If these latest Snapdragon 820 leaks are to go on however, it looks like 2016 could be a good year for the company, for at least on paper, things look very promising indeed.

Coming out of China, some leaked screenshots show the differences between the MSM8994 (Snapdragon 810) and the MSM8996 (Snapdragon 820), with the highlights being a 35% performance jump in CPU terms and a 40% jump in GPU performance. Due to the 14nm process, instead of the 20nm process used in the Snapdragon 810, the new chip uses as much as 30% less power, which should go a long way to keeping things cool. The reason the new chip looks so much better on paper is perhaps down to the new Hydra CPU design. As Qualcomm did with ARM’s Cortex-A15 reference design in the Snapdragon S4 Pro and Snapdragon 800/801/805 line of chips, the Snapdragon 820 is to see Qualcomm use their own core designs, rather than following ARM’s design to the letter as they did with the 810.

There’s a lot of info in the below screenshots, but the takeaways are that the new A530 GPU is 40% faster than the previous version, there’s a Cat 10 LTE modem built-in capable of pretty much any LTE standard and the highest speeds. Not only that, but this new chip can handle 4K content at a smooth 60fps as well, making the chip fairly future proof. The MSM8996 appears in a leaked roadmap for release towards the end of 2015, but few devices will take advantage of this chip before the end of this year. The first is said to be Xiaomi’s Mi 5, which is now rumored for a December launch. As before, we should expect to see the Snapdragon 820 in flagships launching Spring 2016, and if you’ve been steering clear of upgrades this year, then next year could be the year you make the jump.