Research Director Says Snapdragon 820 Doesn't Overheat

Apple introduced the 64-bit iPhone 5s in September 2013 and kickstarted the mobile industry into designing and building 64-bit compatible smartphones and tablets. Although the industry had been gradually moving towards the introduction of 64-bit processors, Apple stole something of a march on the industry at large. Since then, we have seen a number of chipset designers scrambling to play catch up with Apple. In the case of Qualcomm, the American chipset designer has had to radically change how it designed their System-on-Chips (SoCs), away from its custom processor core design (called "Krait") and switching to using the ARM reference processor cores, the ARM Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57. Qualcomm's custom Krait core had been designed by its semiconductor engineers to deliver a blend of high performance with low power consumption, whereas the reference cores work a little differently: ARM encourage SoC manufacturers to pair up the A53 cores (designed for low power consumption but less performance) with the A57 cores (high-performance processor cores, with high power consumption and heat output). This arrangement, known as big.LITTLE, meant that Qualcomm had to incorporate new technologies into its 2014 and 2015 chipsets. For the most part, Qualcomm have been successful. The issues that the Snapdragon 810 has faced are at least partially associated with the heat output of the ARM Cortex-A57 core, which is a powerful processor but unfortunately, can generate around 4 watts of heat per core.

For 2016, Qualcomm is returning to its comfort zone thanks to the introduction of a new custom core, this time called "Kyro," which will be used in a conventional quad-core configuration without the complications of a big.LITTLE arrangement in the up-and-coming Snapdragon 820 processor. Furthermore, because Qualcomm have designed the whole System-on-Chip, they should have a better handle on thermal management. In other words, the Snapdragon 820 should run cooler in use. This is what Kevin Wang, IHS Technology China's Research Director, has said on his Weibo page. That the Snapdragon 820 has four custom cores built on a smaller process prevents the chip from running into the overheating issues that have dogged the Snapdragon 810. Kevin's Weibo page encourages manufacturers to invest in the Snapdragon 820 chipset. We have already seen rumors that a number of manufacturers are working on releasing products in 2016 based around the new Qualcomm chipset, including Xiaomi (for the new Mi5 flagship device), the new Asus PadFone S2, Samsung, Sony and HTC.

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About the Author
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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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