Qualcomm's difficulties have been well publicized this year. Early on, the news broke that Qualcomm had lost the Samsung Galaxy S6 contract as the Snapdragon 810 was not used, instead Samsung powered their flagship device with their own in-house processor, the Exynos 7420. One of the rumors was that Qualcomm's 2015 flagship System-on-Chip, the Snapdragon 810, was suffering from overheating issues. The impression in the industry is that Qualcomm did not come clean with issues of the Snapdragon 810 although manufacturers must surely take part of the blame assuming Qualcomm disclosed the thermal limits of their System-on-Chip. Qualcomm's market has also been under pressure from other chipmakers bringing their own competitive products to the market but at a cheaper price. However, the industry is now looking to the future and the release and launch of Qualcomm's next flagship System-on-Chip, the Snapdragon 820. The new chip sees Qualcomm return to their comfort zone, whereby the business is integrating their own processor core design into the System-on-Chip rather than relying on ARM's reference core designs.
Qualcomm are introducing a number of new technologies into the Snapdragon 820 including some intelligent processor load balancing algorithms designed to make the best use of the four processor cores. However, because the chip is a quad core rather than the more conventional big.LITTLE, eight or more core design for a flagship processor, some in the industry have asked if the Snapdragon 820 will have the performance customers will demand from their flagship devices. It's too soon to know the performance of the Snapdragon 820 as the chip has not yet been released, but we have seen pre-production chipsets put through their paces and appearing in the Geekbench 4 Benchmark website. We had seen two variants of the Snapdragon 820 appearing in these benchmarks, but over the weekend we've now seen a third set of benchmarks from a new unseen variant of the chip. The third version of the Snapdragon 820 scores 5,910 in the multi-core test and 2,032 in the single core test. These numbers compare with the first 820 seen, which scores 4,970 in multi-core mode and 1,732 in single core mode. The second Snapdragon 820 tested showed a slightly higher single core result but a lower multi-core test.
Those chipsets with more than four processor cores are likely to outperform the Snapdragon 820 when it comes to the multi-core benchmark, as this score flatters a chip with more cores than the competition. The improvement in single core benchmarking is of more importance to the majority of applications and the operating system, because very few available applications make use of more than one core. Only a small number use more than two cores; most of the time, having four cores is overkill and those chipsets with eight or more application cores spend much of their time with many cores shut down. And as to how well the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 compared with the competition, Apple's A9 processor as found in the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus outperforms it by some margin (scoring over 2,500), but seeing as the processor is only available in Apple devices, this is something of a moot point. We'll need to wait and see how Samsung, Huawei, MediaTek and other chipset designers' 2016 processors measure up as and when they are tested.