LAS VEGAS — Mobile chip giant Qualcomm announced its 10nm Snapdragon 835 at CES 2017. The new smartphone SoC sports upgrades across all its subsystems that analysts called impressive but evolutionary.
The 835 features an upgraded Kyro 280 eight-core CPU, Hexagon 682 DSP, 540 Adreno GPU, Qualcomm Spectra 180 ISP, Quick Charge 4.0, as well as an integrated X16 LTE modem with what Qualcomm calls “gigabit-class LTE connectivity.” Overall, it sports a 35% decrease in package size with 25% better power efficiency compared to the existing 821.
Interestingly, the 835 is also the company’s first ARM-based processor to support Windows 10 on a mobile device.
“This is big news, with Microsoft adding x86 emulation on ARM to Windows 10,” said Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research. “I see this as a real threat to Intel. It may also be a step in Microsoft bringing Windows server to ARM as well,” he added.
The 835 is expected to debut in the next generation of premium smartphones when it ships in the first half of 2017. Its predecessors, the 820/821, were used in smartphones including the Google Pixel, the LG G5 and the Galaxy S7/Edge.
“We see the forthcoming 2017 mobile processors as mostly offering evolutionary improvements, but nothing significantly new,” said Mike Demler, senior analyst with the Linley Group.
“Qualcomm’s LTE-Advanced modems offer higher connection speeds at every generation, but those speeds are rarely experienced in real world conditions,” Demler said.
“I’m expecting the 835 to be the highest performing Android smartphone SoC and the highest performance graphics, VR and AR of any smartphone, including Apple,” said Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insight & Strategy.
“At the same time, I also expect the [next] Apple A-series [SoC] to continue to dominate on the CPU side as it’s just not a major focus by anyone else, while Samsung’s Exynos will be the number two Android phone SoC behind Qualcomm in processor, graphics, VR and AR capabilities,” Moorhead added.
The 835 sports a 35% decrease in package size and 25% better power efficiency than the existing 821.(Images: Qualcomm)
The Snapdragon 835 may not deliver anything groundbreaking, but it does maintain the company’s leadership in mobile SoCs.
“Samsung is likely to continue using a mix of its own Exynos and Qualcomm Snapdragon processors,” said Demler.
“Mediatek is matching up more and more with Snapdragon, but generally at a performance level just a notch or so lower in all the key subsystems (CPU, graphics, modem, etc.). That is by design, to meet the lower cost requirements of their customer base,” Demler said.
“Apple tends to emphasize graphics performance, hence their customized PowerVR GPU. The latest Apple A10 CPU scores highest in our comparisons, so that will likely get even better at 10nm” he added.
Next page: A tour of the 835’s subsystems