Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 – The 5G Kickstarter The Snapdragon 855 is an open platform for OEM’s to make use of and usher the world into the 5G era


MAUI, Hawaii – The Snapdragon Summit day 2 was where all the action was when it came to mobile platforms that cater to the next wave of 5G.

On day 1, Qualcomm showcased what the 5G future holds as far as the mobile platform industry and OEM’s are concerned.

They also showcased the Snapdragon 855 on day 1, but day 2 was where they gave us a deep dive into what can we expect from the Snapdragon 855 powered devices in 2019.

One of the main announcements of the day was by OnePlus’ Founder, Pete Lau, where he announced that the next OnePlus flagship for 2019 will be powered by the Snapdragon 855.

OnePlus as a company has been known for making quality devices, and especially for the Indian markets that were the flag bearers for Qualcomm’s flagship processor.

So, it came as no surprise that OnePlus’ 2019 flagship would have the 5G kickstarter Snapdragon 855 SoC.

The newest generation of Qualcomm’s 8 Mobile Platform Series will be the world’s first commercial mobile platform supporting multi-gigabit 5G, AI and extended reality (XR) collectively.

The Snapdragon 855 uses the new chip architectures built on 7nm process technology. We have seen Apple and Huawei come out with their 7nm processors, but they are exclusive to the iPhone and Huawei’s devices.

The Snapdragon 855 is an open platform for OEM’s to make use of and usher the world into the 5G era. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 855 will offer users long-lasting battery life and superior experiences in areas such as imaging, audio, gaming, and XR.

“As operators launch 5G networks in early 2019, consumers will for the first time be able to take advantage of transformative 5G consumer experiences on mobile devices with Snapdragon 855,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

“We are proud to share our technology inventions and be among the first to bring mobile 5G to the world.”

So, what does the Snapdragon 855 offer that makes it the premium processor of choice for OEM’s to make their flagships phones around in 2019? Let’s take a look at some of its features.

In terms of connectivity, the Snapdragon 855 will harness multi-gigabit 4G connectivity with the built-in Snapdragon X24 LTE modem. And the Snapdragon X50, enables this platform to supports 5G for both Sub-6 GHz and mmWave frequency bands.

The Snapdragon 855 is designed to deliver Multi-Gigabit speeds and users can expect up to 20x faster average performance compared to some of the current SoC’s on offer.

The Snapdragon 855 also offers next-generation Wi-Fi performance via the Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6-ready mobile platform, and supports mmWave Wi-Fi, utilising the Qualcomm 60 GHz Wi-Fi mobile platform.

This makes it an industry first 802.11ay-based platform which basically translates into speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The Snapdragon 855 also enhances its support for Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus technology to meet growing demands in the wireless headset markets.

This will help in optimising low latency between left and right earbuds as well as lowering the power consumption allowing longer listening time per battery charge.

In terms of performance, the Snapdragon 8 series has always been the gold standard for mobile devices and the Snapdragon 855 takes it a notch up. The Snapdragon 855 features Qualcomm Kryo 485 CPU built on Arm Cortex Technology, offering up to a 45% performance improvement over the Snapdragon 845 SoC.

There is also a new Qualcomm Adreno 640 GPU, that will provide up to 20% faster graphics than SD 845. Qualcomm claims that the gaming experiences using Adreno graphics will achieve a new level of realism with through support of Vulkan 1.1, high dynamic range (HDR), and physically based rendering (PBR).

Artificial Intelligence
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 features a 4th generation multi-core Qualcomm AI Engine. The company says that the new chipset can offer a total capacity of more than 7 trillion operations per second (7 TOPs), and 3x the AI performance compared to the Snapdragon 845 SoC.

The Hexagon 690 Processor in the SD855, includes a newly designed Hexagon Tensor Accelerator (HTA) and four Hexagon Vector eXtensions (HVX), which basically doubles the vector processing as compared to the Snapdragon 854 SoC, and can provide a powerful blend of dedicated and programmable AI acceleration.

The 4th gen Qualcomm AI Engine software suite brings a number of enhancements to the Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK, Google’s Android NN-API, and to both Hexagon NN and the Qualcomm Math Library.

This can further enhance the surge of on-device AI voice, camera, gaming, and XR user experiences. The Snapdragon 855 also brings in a more advanced on-device Voice Assistant using dedicated AI acceleration for echo cancellation and noise suppression, so users can talk to their Voice Assistant device at any time.

The Snapdragon 855 includes Qualcomm’s new Spectra 380 Image Signal Processor (ISP), that integrates numerous hardware accelerated computer vision (CV) capabilities, enabling the world’s first announced CV-ISP to provide cutting-edge computational photography and video capture features while at the same time offering up to 4x power savings.

The CV-ISP includes hardware-based depth sensing which enables video capture, object classification, and object segmentation all in real-time in 4K HDR at 60fps.

This means that in future mobile devices one can also see bokeh video recording capabilities. Spectra 380 ISP is the first announced ISP to support video recording using HDR10+. It is also capable to capture more than 1 billion shades of colour.

Qualcomm announced that the Snapdragon 855 is the first platform to offer their new Snapdragon Elite Gaming Experience.

This experience includes cinematic colour grading in true HDR (>1 billion colours), filmic tone-mapping, demanding physically based rendering (PBR), and support for the Vulkan 1.1 graphics library. So in 2019, games like PUBG running on a Snapdragon 855 device, can expect to have a reduce in latencies, along with improved realistic visuals and much more.

Streaming Content
The Snapdragon 855 also promises an enhanced cinema experience, that can also enable HDR10+ playback. This is also a commercial first on mobile platform.

Users can also watch more movies on a single charge, as newly introduced hardware accelerated H.265 and VP9 decoding offers higher energy efficiency.

This means enhanced playback performance with efficiency while streaming content on a device running Snapdragon 855 for streaming apps like, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HotStar etc.

Extended Reality (XR)
This might be a little too ahead for the Indian markets, but the Snapdragon 855 is also capable of enabling volumetric virtual reality (VR) immersive video experience at 8K resolutions.

To add to the already mentioned new additions on the Snapdragon 855 mobile platform, this is also the first mobile platform to support the new Qualcomm 3D Sonic Sensor, the world’s first commercial ultrasonic fingerprint solution supported under the display.

This basically enhances the accuracy to detect fingerprints even through numerous contaminants.

The next wave of flagship Android smartphones in 2019 will see Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC at the heart of all the action.

The first devices are expected to ship out in the first quarter of 2019, and with OnePlus already announcing its commitment to the Snapdragon 855 for their next flagship killer phone, it won’t be surprising to see many OEM’s adopt the Snapdragon 855 for their flagship devices, that will also be ready for the 5G era.




Original features, micro docus and explainers


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