Qualcomm Drops The Curtain On ‘Comeback’ Snapdragon 820 SoC And Adreno 530 GPU

It’s no secret that the Snapdragon 810 processor has been a bit of a sore spot for Qualcomm. The SoC was chastised for overheating problems and Samsung even passed over the chip for its homegrown Exynos 7420 processor. Qualcomm’s third quarter earnings (revenue fell by 14 percent to $5.8 billion and net income plummeted by 47 percent to $1.2 billion) also disappointed and the company announced efforts to reduce spending and slash its workforce by 15 percent (roughly 4,500 to 5,000 employees will be let go).

Qualcomm is looking to not only regain the confidence of its OEM partners, but also Wall Street. So it should come as no surprise that the company is now partially lifting the veil on its next generation Snapdragon 820 SoC, which will power a new generation of flagship smartphones starting in 2016.

Today, the company is just talking about the Snapdragon 820’s next generation GPU: the Adreno 530. The Adreno 500 Series GPUs all support Open GL ES 3.1 and the burgeoning Vulkan API. There is also support for OpenCL 2.0 and Renderscript. You’ll also find HDMI 2.0 and 4K display support.

Snapdragon 820

While Qualcomm isn’t giving us any actual benchmark numbers to go by, the company says that the Adreno 530 offers a 40 percent improvement in performance over the Adreno 430 found in the current generation Snapdragon 810, while also reducing power consumption by 40 percent. Given the toasty nature of the Snapdragon 810, the lower power profile is much appreciated.

Qualcomm is chalking up some of the power savings to a new FinFET process, which is rumored to be be either 16nm (TSMC) or 14nm (Samsung) — the current Snapdragon 810 is built on a 20nm process.

A slightly lower-spec Adreno 510 will power the lesser Snapdragon 618 and 620. Qualcomm is also projecting a 40 percent performance improvement and 40 percent power reduction compared to the existing Snapdragon 610 and 615 which use the Adreno 405 GPU.

Qualcomm has also tossed in its new Spectra Camera Image Signal Processor (ISP), which can support a total of three cameras simultaneously (one front-facing, and two rear-facing) at up to 25MP resolution. The company is also touting the usual generational improvements including better low-light performance, faster autofocusing, better color reproduction and reduced noise.

“We’re significantly enhancing the visual processing capabilities of Snapdragon to support next-generation user experiences related to computational photography, computer vision, virtual reality and photo-realistic graphics on mobile devices, all while maximizing battery life,” said Qualcomm VP Tim Leland.

And Qualcomm isn’t just targeting the mobile sector with Snapdragon 820, it also has its eyes on other growth markets. “as emerging growth segments such as automotive demand more immersive visual experiences, Snapdragon 820 will enable the next generation of infotainment, computer vision and advanced processing for instrument clusters,” Leland added.

Qualcomm forecasts that the first shipping products with Snapdragon 820 will ship during the first half of 2016.