At Android Headlines, we've given the System-on-Chip, or SoC, market a lot of coverage. The main reason for this is because the early months of the year are often the most exciting when it comes to processor announcements as not only do we start to see the technologies that will be powering the flagships due to be revealed in the run up to, or at, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show, but manufacturers also showcase the following year's products. In the case of Qualcomm, this means that we've seen the first few devices with the new king of their particular hill, the Snapdragon 810, plus announcements over what is to follow.
To write about the new generation, 20nm die size, 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, this is set to replace the Snapdragon 805 processor as the new flagship SoC. The 810 takes a sideways step from Qualcomm's processors over the last couple of years as it introduces a new die size. It's also not based on the Qualcomm customized core, known as Krait, but instead it uses a reference core design lifted straight from ARM. The Snapdragon 810 contains four processor cores structured in a big.LITTLE arrangement: there's a quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor unit for the lower power work and a high-performance quad core Cortex-A57 at the top end. In addition to the changes in processor architecture, the 810 uses a more powerful GPU, the Adreno 430, compared with the Adreno 420 as used in the Snapdragon 805.
Over the last few months we've seen a number of rumors that the Snapdragon 810 was suffering from overheating problems, which have been quashed because the processor has been released in a number of devices. Slashgear had the chance to test and benchmark the 810 using the Qualcomm Mobile Developer Platform tablet and smartphone devices. The tablet has 4 GB of RAM and a 4K display whereas the smartphone makes do with 3 GB of RAM and a 2K display.
in raw numbers and this shouldn't be a surprise, the Snapdragon 810 is quicker than the Snapdragon 805. The AnTuTu test shows that the smartphone scores almost 61,700, which compares with the Nexus 6's 56,800 point score (both devices have the same resolution, but the Nexus 6 uses the Snapdragon 805 including the Adreno 420 GPU). The tablet, which remember is driving a 4K display, scored a shade over 52,000 points. What does this mean in the hand? Actually… it shows that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 benchmarks quicker than an already quick Snapdragon 805. It shows that the device has the stones to drive a 4K screen, which is important if the tablet industry moves to these very high resolution displays.
What of the stories of the overheating Snapdragon 810? Qualcomm and Slashgear's tests show that compared with the 2013 Snapdragon 800, the 810 can run the same workload and stays cooler. This shouldn't be a surprise: the processor is more powerful, so is working proportionately less hard for the same tasks, which in turn means it can be run at a lower voltage, which reduces power and heat production.
I've labored above that Qualcomm aren't using their custom processor core in the 810, which was one way that the SoC manufacturer differentiated its products from the competition. The other way is in onboard, integrated connectivity and here, Qualcomm have given the Snapdragon 810 more network technologies than ever before. Not only does the SoC benefit from Cat 9 LTE standard (that's up to a theoretical 450 Mbps download speed) but it supports all major cellular standards across the world, encompassing GSM, CDMA, TD-SCDMA and WCDMA or HSPA+. I know; more acronyms than I drink coffees but take from this that the device covers networks across the world including China. This means it simplifies device manufacturers' additional technologies to integrate into a given design.
As a final note, Qualcomm have also given the Snapdragon 810 plenty of proprietary features, including hardware support computational photography, advanced noise cancelation, Dolby Atmos and Quick Charge, to name just four features. These value-added features combined with the ability to connect to any network in the world is what Qualcomm will be using to compete against other manufacturers such as MediaTek, as their processor cores will have the same specification.