High-res, high-color, high-speed and in your pocket.
At Siggraph Qualcomm had a quiet display of a lady’s face expressing happiness, anger and confusion, seriously difficult facial animation expressions. It was all running on a Snapdragon 820, driving a 4K screen, and in real-time.
The long-rumored, and long-awaited, successor to the maligned Snapdragon 810, the Snapdragon 820, is here, well, almost. Qualcomm showed demos running it, but didn’t show the actual chip, at Siggraph. The 820 is a totally new design, with a new GPU, the Adreno 530, as well as an enhanced DSP, and more of them, and two Spectra 14-bit ISPs.
Qualcomm says the image-processing capabilities will provide DSLR-like quality photography, deliver more natural skin tones, and be able to handle up to one 25-megapixel sensors, without shutter lag, or two 12-megapixel sensors that could be used for depth-sensing cameras. The ISPs also offer a hybrid autofocus capability and multi-sensor fusion algorithms that support next-generation computational photography.
Qualcomm has created a tight coupling between the sensor array and the ISP that can accept the raw Bayer signal from the sensor; they will disclose more on that at Hot Chips in a few weeks.
The company claims the 530 will produce a 40% improvement in graphic performance and lower power consumption over the Adreno 430 in the Snapdragon 810. The 820’s Adreno 530 GPU can process more than 5,000 draw calls in Vulkan, which is 40% more than the Adreno 430 can do. The GPUs supports 4K resolution up to 60 frames per second via HDMI 2.0.
The SN 820 will employ Qualcomm’s new custom-designed Kryo 64-bit quad-core ARM. The chip will be built in Samsung’s 14-nm FinFET process, so, using Intel terminology, the 820 is a tick and tock—a new architecture and a new process node. The GPU and the ISPs have aggressive, dynamic, fine-grain clock-gating power management, and will independently turn down, or off, any component that is not in current use. The chip will employ fine-grain 2:1 lossless bandwidth compression.
In addition to supporting OpenGL ES 3.1 with AE, it also supports the new Vulkan API and is Windows phone ready. It can run multiple OS via a hypervisior and offers preemption for context switching.
Qualcomm, like many others, is excited by the excitement over VR, and hinted we can expect to see the 820 featured in a VR HMD in the near future. Qualcomm has been spoon-feeding the press and a few analysts facts about the new chip, and as mentioned, the next dose will at Hot Chips, and then probably the final story will come out in October.
So what’s not to like? That we have to wait till 2016 to get a smartphone with one of them, and it looks likes it would be worth waiting for. Qualcomm may have just given its partners a dose of the Osborne effect; that’ll teach them to reject the 810.