At Qualcomm’s event unveiling its latest 617 and 430 Snapdragon system-on-chips (SoCs), the company also revealed a little more about its upcoming flagship Snapdragon, the 820.
Qualcomm has been hard at work at hyping up the next-generation SoC – possibly an attempt to quell the largely problematic 810 that was released earlier this year. It has already revealed that the 820 will be using a new “Kyro” CPU chip architecture, the successor to Qualcomm’s powerful Krait chip that was last seen on the Snapdragon 805; the 810 instead used ARM Cortex CPU cores which may have been the root cause of the 810’s poor performance. The new Kyro cores are built on a new 14nm FinFET process, and paired with a new Adreno 530 GPU, which is said to be 40% faster than its predecessor.
Now, the company has revealed the 820’s new modem. The new X12 LTE modem embedded in the 820 is not only capable of astonishing download and upload speeds of up to 600Mbps and 150Mbps respectively, it is also the first SoC to support unlicensed LTE (or LTE-U). LTE-U is a Qualcomm-led proposal to use LTE radios in “unlicensed” spectrum, such as on 5GHz that’s used in WiFi equipment. Furthermore, this modem will also support tri-band WiFi, which includes the upcoming WiFi 802.11ad standard, which has a theoretical throughput of 4.6Gbps – over five times faster than 802.11ac – but has a very limited range of just a few meters using the 60GHz spectrum (and requires line of sight between wireless devices).
Besides the new modem, the Snapdragon 820 will also naturally support Qualcomm’s new Quick Charge 3.0 technology. Besides faster charging speeds (0 to 80% in 35 minutes), the technology is more intelligent in optimising the voltage required to charge at the device’s most efficient state, thereby reducing risks of overheating and reducing the battery’s health and lifespan.
Qualcomm remains quietly confident of the Snapdragon 820, and chances are it may redeem the company from the mess it made with the 810. Samsung is already said to be testing its upcoming flagship Galaxy S7 smartphone with the Snapdragon 820, which appears to align with Qualcomm’s “early-2016” release date for the new chip.