Qualcomm's next-generation premier flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 855, will ship with a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU), according to recent leaks from WinFuture. Although it would not be the first mobile SoC to implement the feature, including an NPU would give the performance of the Snapdragon 855 a substantial boost. That's because any tasks associated with voice recognition, facial recognition, or anything else tied in with A.I. could effectively be pushed off of the main CPU and onto a processor more well-suited for accomplishing them. Not only would that make the built-in CPU more efficient by allowing it to offload those processes. It should also allow the CPU to take care of other tasks while the NPU is working on its assigned workload, bolstering the overall performance of the chipset substantially. How well that is implemented at the system level and the features that make use of that NPU, meanwhile, will likely vary between smartphone OEMs.
Simultaneously, the new Snapdragon SoC is also reportedly going to make its first appearance in the automotive sector rather than in an Android handset. However, it won't necessarily be marketed under the same name. It's already known that the U.S. based chipset manufacturer may ship the mobile variant of the chip under the 'Snapdragon SM8150' branding to avoid confusion with its recently launched Snapdragon 850 launched laptop-specific silicon. The automotive variation on the design, on the other hand, is now said to bear an 'SDM855AU' moniker to set it apart. Both variations will sport a dedicated neural processing unit on-chip to allow for A.I. functionality. Aside from base similarities, the vehicle variation will also almost certainly ship with added hardware security and support for secondary components found only in modern automotive chips.
With regard to both chipsets, the current speculation is that the Snapdragon 855 will be a 12.4mm x 12.4mm design built on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) 7nm optical lithography-based process node. A Snapdragon X24 modem is expected to be on that same piece of silicon in order to provide support for both 4G LTE and the incoming 5G networks. However, as of this writing, all of the information pertaining to Qualcomm's upcoming SoC is speculative and should be taken with a grain of salt.