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Snapdragon 835 promises 27 percent more performance with 40 percent less power

Peter Bright

On the left, Qualcomm Vice President for Product Management Keith Kressin. On the right, Samsung Senior Vice President for Foundry Marketing Ben Suh. In their hands, the ever-so-tiny Snapdragon 835 processors.
When Qualcomm and Samsung together announced the existence of the Snapdragon 835 in November, they were a little light on details. The chip is a derivative of the Snapdragon 820 and 821 found in phones today, built on Samsung's new 10nm manufacturing process. At the time, the companies claimed that this would result in 27 percent more performance or 40 percent less power.
In a new announcement leaked by Evan Blass, we learn a little more about Qualcomm's next systems-on-chips. That "or" is now an "and," with the chip designer saying that the Samsung 10nm process has enabled a 30 percent size reduction of the 3-billion-transistor chip to use 40 percent less power and as much as 27 percent more performance. The CPU carries the Kryo 280 branding, and the GPU is an Adreno 540 (compared to the 530 in the Snapdragon 820). It's all combined with a Hexagon digital signal processor and Spectra 180 image processor.
Qualcomm says that the new GPU is 25 percent faster at 3D graphics, and it supports "60 times more display colors," suggesting support for 10-bit per channel HDR graphics. Keen to ride the virtual and augmented reality bandwagons, the company is claiming a 20 percent reduction in motion tracking latency, along with support for six degrees of freedom positioning.
The upgraded imaging components include support for phase detection autofocus using dual photodiode imaging sensors, improved video stabilization and rolling shutter correction for 4K video, and an integrated capability to create high dynamic range images by fusing different pictures together.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade comes to the integrated LTE modem. This is an X16 part, compared to the X12 in the Snapdragon 820. The new modem supports 4×4 MIMO and 4× carrier aggregation, making it capable of LTE Advanced Pro connections with 1Gbps peak download speed, 150Mbps upload. The 835 also supports 802.11ad 60GHz Wi-Fi (formerly known as WiGig) for transfer rates as high as 6.8Gbps. This improved network performance comes with a 40 percent reduction in power usage.
The Snapdragon 835 will be found in the usual range of smartphones. While Qualcomm's announcement makes no mention of it, it's also likely to be used in a range of new Windows 10 devices that Microsoft is calling "cellular PCs." There's nothing particular about 835 that makes it appear any better suited to this scenario than the current 820 and 821—it's just faster and newer—but the strong wireless connectivity options underscore one of the advantages that these new devices will have, as they'll combine the breadth of software that the PC offers with the always-online connectivity found in smartphones.

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