Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Launches With 45% Performance Boost, 20% Faster Graphics

Posted on December 5, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Hardware with 22 Comments

It’s here. Qualcomm’s latest and greatest 7nm processor has just been officially announced at the company’s annual Snapdragon Technology Summit. Meet the Snapdragon 855.

Snapdragon 855 is Qualcomm’s next-gen processor platform. The company is focusing mostly on things like 5G, AI, and XR (“Immersive Extended Reality”). Although the upgrades being introduced this year will really help with AI processing, 5G and XR are mostly going to be one of those marketing gimmicks for a while.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The new Qualcomm Kyro 485 CPU results in 45% faster performance
  • New Adreno 640 GPU results in 20% faster graphics performance
  • Support for Vulkan 1.1, HDR and physically based rendering will improve gaming experiences.
  • New 4th gen “multi-core” Qualcomm AI engine offers 3x performance boost for AI, capable of a total capacity of more than 7 trillion operations per second
  • Doubled vector processing speed thanks to the new Qualcomm Hexagon 690 processor, the new Hexagon Tensor Accelerator, and the Hexagon Vector eXtensions

The new upgrades in performance should help speed up your next flagship phone in many different ways. The focus on AI is really going to help speed up on-device AI, with Qualcomm working with its partners like Google to improve some of the biggest AI libraries for the Snapdragon 855.

Qualcomm has also made significant upgrades to the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform’s camera module — it now includes a new Spectra 380 ISP for faster computer vision capabilities, that will apparently enable “cutting-edge” computational photography and video capture features while offering 4x savings in power usage.

The new ISP will enable features like object classification and object segmentation in 4K HDR videos at 60fps in real-time. It’s also the first image signal processor to support HDR10+ video recording. The Snapdragon 855 also includes hardware acceleration for HEIF file format encoding, which will supposedly reduce file sizes for images and videos by 50%.

And let’s talk about connectivity: the Snapdragon 855 comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G model, introducing 5G support for both Sub-6 GHz and mmWave frequency bands. The support for 5G will allow for multi-gigabit speeds on devices powered by the new X50 modem. The processor also comes with the new Wi-Fi 6-ready mobile platform which offers “next generation” Wi-Fi performance and power usage.

All in all, the Snapdragon 855 is a massive upgrade for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon flagship. Although these technical upgrades may not seem like a big deal, they will soon make much more sense once we start seeing them in actual devices. For now, Qualcomm says we will start seeing the Snapdragon 855 on devices in the first half of 2019. Maybe with the Samsung Galaxy S10.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Launches With 45% Performance Boost, 20% Faster Graphics”

  1. waethorn

    Qualcomm doesn't mind being the hamster.

  2. truerock2

    So, I'm sure we all expect a lot of 5G hype - and I'm guessing none of it will come from Apple.

    So, I guess what I think I might observe is that there is an Apple tendency to not hype things that are not ready for prime time?

    I'm fairly ceartain that people who follow Thurrott are not going to buy a smart phone next year because it has 5G. That would be individuals who are not particularly on top of technology in general.

    Still, I'm am intrigued with the mmWave support in the Snapdragon 855. For some reason I thought that was not something you could squeeze into a smartphone. I will be following this product closely.

    • red.radar

      In reply to truerock2:

      What is the benefit to 5g? My lte connection feels fast enough....

      if history is a guide being early adopter for new coms tech may not be good for most people. I bet the first chipsets are going to be locked to a specific carrier because of implementation. Or have mediocre battery life.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to red.radar:

        Why do I need 5G? My connection feels fast enough.

        Why do I need LTE?  My connection feels fast enough.

        Why do I need Gigabit? My connection feels fast enough.

        Why do I need Fiber? My connection feels fast enough.

        Why do I need ADSL My connection feels fast enough.

        Why do I need a 56K modem? My connection feels fast enough.

        Why do I need a 1200 baud modem? My connection feels fast enough.

        The history of online computing is littered with people saying their existing connection was fast enough and a few years later complaining about how slow their connection is after new services and capabilities fill that new bandwidth.

        • Greg Green

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          You apparently weren’t around during DSL and earlier if you thought they were fast enough. DSL was fine when I was single but once the family came and then got smartphones it clearly wasn’t good enough.

        • skane2600

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          I think you're greatly exaggerating. Nobody I know ever claimed that their dial-up was fast enough.

          You're also assuming that the relationship between connection speed and value is linear and infinite. Consider streaming a movie. There was a time when the connection was so slow that the computer had to buffer the data every minute or so. Once your connection was fast enough that the movie could stream with only a rare interruption (most likely not a function of connection speed) it was fast enough. If your connection allowed you to stream the movie 100x faster, it wouldn't do you any good because you can't watch it at that speed. So the first increase in speed added significant value, but the second would not.

          Of course streaming isn't the only factor, but the point is that there's a limit to how much more speed is useful in typical use. I see cable company commercials that illustrate non-existent activities simply because even they can't think of a reason why the average person needs 1 Gigabit speed.

  3. Pbike908

    Not much to see here, except for 5G which probably won't mean much until the networks are built out.

    The lack of enthusiasm for Flagship upgrades this year for all MANUFACTURES pretty much indicates folks really don't give a hoot about a faster processor. Folks are probably more interested in better battery life, but from I've seen 835 to 845 didn't do anything for battery life.

  4. wright_is

    It sounds like it should at least catch up with the Samsung Exynos 9 used in the Note 9 and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 and the new Kirin processor used in the Hauwei Mate 20 Pro, if not overtake them. It will be interesting to see how it fairs.

    Still, it will probably be the Exynos 11, the Kirin 990 and the Snapdragon 875 by the time I want to replace my current phone.

  5. dallasnorth40

    I don't know. I'd welcome even more speed for my phone. It couldn't hurt.

  6. remc86007

    So the 855 is slower than the 850? Sounds like they should have picked a new naming scheme for their Windows on Arm part.

  7. brettscoast

    Nice wrap there Mehedi. There is a lot of upside here and the improvements in spec will be most welcome when we see them in new smart phones & other hardware devices.

  8. Thom77

    Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Tab just got a 835 upgrade.

  9. Daekar

    Well, nice to see progress continuing. Is it bad that I don't really care, though? I'm actually more excited about the Qualcomm chips for PCs then phones... My phone is already faster than I need it to be and it's a few generations old.

    Maybe this kind of feeling is why smartphone sales are stagnating.

  10. glenn8878

    Each performance boost should allow Windows to move to ARM. If only that's the case.

    The capitulation to Chromium should mean Windows is more compatible on ARM especially if they kept Windows Mobile. Well, they didn't so there's still much work to get Microsoft somewhere indefinite.

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