Qualcomm's Snapdragon 875 Has Reportedly Entered Mass Production

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The Snapdragon 875, Qualcomm's next-generation flagship smartphone SoC, has now entered mass production and will be announced soon. That's according to reports based out of China, indicating that the company will announce the chips before 2020 ends.

The chipset has already been widely leaked in detail but the news has now surfaced that they are now being produced. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is responsible for the 5nm process chips. And the company is coupling the chip with a Qualcomm's Snapdragon X60 5G hardware as well.

In terms of production, capacity for the 5nm chips at TSMC's Nanke 18 factory has been increased by 10 percent to nearly 60,000 units over the last month. Industry estimates place the investment from Qualcomm, between 6,000 to 10,000 5nm wafers per month. So TSMC's increase and the reports do seem to line up nicely.

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Mass production aside, what new with the Snapdragon 875?

Rumors and leaks surrounding the Snapdragon 875, purportedly codenamed SM8350, have been rampant in the last couple of months. Whether or not those are accurate remains to be seen but the chipset will undoubtedly be more powerful than its predecessor. For clarity, that's the Snapdragon 865.

The Snapdragon 865, for instance, was built on a 1+3+4 configuration. That means it splits processing tasks between three sets of cores. The first and most powerful is the 2.84GHz Cortex-A77 core. That's backed up by three 2.4GHz Cortex-A77 cores and a further four 1.8HGz Cortex-A55 cores.

A similar structure is expected to be followed by the Snapdragon 875. If rumors have been accurate, that would be led by a single Cortex-X1 super core.

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The ARM Cortex-X1 delivers up to 30-percent higher peak performance over the previous top chip in the Snapdragon flagship SoC — the Cortex-A77.  And the power is further bolstered by the use of three Cortex-A78 cores. That chip is expected to provide a 20-percent performance boost over the Cortex-A77. And of course, four power-efficient Cortex-A55 cores would remain behind that for less intensive processing.

In terms of computing power elsewhere, the Adreno 660 GPU is expected as part of that bundle. Qualcomm is expected to back that up with the Adreno 665 VPU and Adreno 1,095 DPU. The Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit (SPU250) will also be included if leaks have been accurate. So will the company's Spectra 580 image-processing engine.

For networking, the chip will include a 3G/4G/5G modem. As noted above, the X60 5G appears to be taking care of that end of the spectrum, with support for mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands.

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On audio, Qualcomm will purportedly offer up a low-power audio subsystem. And that will be combined with Aqstic Audio Technologies WCD9380, and WCD9385 audio codec.

When will this arrive under-the-hood for smartphones?

Now, smartphone packing a Snapdragon 875 chipset backed by the X60 5G hardware won't necessarily arrive this year, even if mass production has started and the chipset will be revealed this year. Current predictions place the announcement of the chip in September. That would — unless Samsung starts giving the chips to OEMs fairly early — leave very little time for smartphones to use the chips in 2020. Just four months, in fact.

So smartphones bearing the new generation of Qualcomm powerhouses won't likely arrive until early 2021.

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