It's processor season folks. 10nm offerings from both Samsung and Qualcomm are finally with us. We've been waiting on them for quite a while now. Today, it's time to take a look at the Snapdragon 835. Qualcomm dropped the ball in 2015 with the Snapdragon 810. The processor's throttling problems made it one of the biggest failures in company history. It responded by launching the Snapdragon 821 and 820 with custom made Kryo cores on board. Now, 2017's Snapdragon 835 follows similar steps. Curious? Take a look below to find out more.
To start off, let's take a look at performance details for the Snapdragon 835. This year, Qualcomm has increased the core count on its flagship processor. The Snapdragon 835 features two sets of four Kryo 280 cores each. These are clocked at 2.45GHz and 1.9*GHz for the higher and lower performance clusters. The Kryo 280 cores are different from their predecessors in more than their name. The original cores on the Snapdragon 820 were a completely custom Qualcomm solution.
This year, the Kryo cores are based on an unspecified ARM design. As you'd have guessed, the Snapdragon 835 uses Kryo 280 cores for both the performance and efficiency cluster. The main focus for the 835 is power efficiency. Qualcomm hopes that 10nm will do its work for performance and that up to 80% of the workload on the Snapdragon 835 will be performed by the 1.9GHz core cluster. At the processing end, the company promises a 20% boost over the Snapdragon 820.
Samsung's 10nm FinFET for the processor offers a lot of benefits as well. The Korean tech giant promises a 30% performance area efficiency increase, a 20% performance boost and 40% reduction in power consumption when compared to 16nm. Furthermore, Qualcomm also expects 2.5 hours of additional battery life for power users. The company's licensing agreement with ARM allows it to make changes to the latter's designs for execution pipelines, branch predictions and other details.
Finally, an interesting feature on the Snapdragon 835 is different cache sizes. The higher performance core cluster gets 2MB of L2 cache and the lower performance cluster gets 1MB of cache. Power efficiency, rather than hardcore performance is Qualcomm's concern on the Snapdragon 835. It's the correct approach as there's little that the average user can do with top tier performance specifications. Power efficiency, on the other hand, is a need that no smartphone user out there will deny having.
Qualcomm's GPUs for the Snapdragon lineup are industry best. They beat every other mobile offering out there in benchmark scores and ensure a strong competitive advantage for the company. The Snapdragon 835 will feature the Adreno 540, which will step things up a notch over its predecessor, the Adreno 530. The Adreno 540 will significantly improve graphics performance over its predecessor. The GPU will increase support to 107 million colors, from 17 million on the Adreno 530. It's a 64x increase, that will allow developers to include support for HDR10 and allow for crisp and detailed image/video capture.
The Adreno 540 also supports 25% increase in 3D rendering over the Adreno 530 and allows for faster trilinear filtering and GPGPU processing. For the uninitiated, this means that on the Adreno 540, you'll be able to achieve smoother texture for image, courtesy of faster linear interpolation between image mipmapping. The Adreno 540 also supports DX 12, Open GL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan and Google's Daydream for VR.
The Adreno 540 will also come with improved display rates, that will end up smoothing frame rates and overall display outputs. For the Adreno 540, display refresh rate will be equal to the GPU frame rate. Finally, when combined with the Hexagon DSP's additional HVX DSP, the Adreno 540 and the Snapdragon 835 will also include improved support for heavy image and video processing. All in all, the Adreno 540 will include significant overhauls to graphics rendering and improve output, VR applications and task allocation.
With hardware advancement, camera and image processing capabilities have become a greater part of flagship devices. Apple introduced its custom ISP on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus last year, and Qualcomm's made similar improvements to the Snapdragon 835 as well. The processor makes some much overdue upgrades and adds a few new features into the mix. Its Spectra ISP is a 14 bit dual SIP setup which includes support for dual 16MP or single 32MP camera setups.
However, the ISP brings a lot of new features to board as well. For starters, Qualcomm has included support for an Optical Zoom module. This, as the name suggests, includes support for 2x optical and 10x digital zoom. It uses technology similar to the iPhone 7 to achieve this effect, by bringing together a telephoto and a wide angle lens. The biggest upgrade to the Snapdragon 835's image processing capabilities is the addition of a Dual Photodiode AutoFocus module. This includes phase detection diodes for every pixel on the image sensor, rather than just 5%. Samsung implemented the feature with its Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge last year as well.