For connectivity, it’s been a big week. If you’ve been wondering what’s going to power you Galaxy S11,
Google Pixel 5, or any number of other Android flagships in 2020, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit 2019 is likely to have the response. Until entering AR / VR and eventually computing, the week-long event kicked off with new smartphone chipsets with 5G and AI ever-present themes along the way. Read on for the great news that you need to know.
Qualcomm was so excited about the possibility of Snapdragon saying all things, inviting SlashGear and hundreds of other global media to attend the Snapdragon Summit.
The highlight feature of snapdragon 865
More energy, more megapixels, AI, and 5G. Where Qualcomm will go with the Snapdragon 865 wasn’t hard to predict, but that doesn’t mean the new flagship chipset isn’t worthy of attention along the way. Samsung, OnePlus, Google, LG, and others set the 7 nm silicon to power 2020 devices, not short on performance.
There’s a new big one. Little octa-core CPU, along with a new GPU, as you would expect. Nevertheless, Qualcomm also transfers many of its duties to dedicated silicon elsewhere. For instance, the Snapdragon 865 features the company’s fifth-generation AI system, featuring a dedicated Hexagon coprocessor which uses your next device to improve artificial intelligence tasks dramatically, and without a considerable battery life hit.
While the CPU / GPU can do things like object recognition, real-time camera effects, and more, they are nowhere near as fast as a dedicated AI coprocessor. We’re going to have to wait to see how device makers implement such abilities to know how they work out in the real world. Still, the attention of Qualcomm on items like photo and video effects, gaming, and 4K capture and playback with HDR10+ and Dolby Vision bode well for mobile devices.
The Snapdragon 765 is the midrange game by Qualcomm, and a lot of betting on it. It also has an octa-core CPU, a new GPU, and the same AI Tensor Accelerator as the Snapdragon 865, plus multi-camera range handling capability and 4 K HDR10+. There will also be a Snapdragon 765 G version, with GPU quality for gamers increasing by 20 percent.
Nonetheless, where the Snapdragon 765 stands out is its planned function as a means of driving 5G into new markets. That taps a new Snapdragon X52 5 G modem, compromising on maximum speed instead of supporting things like mmWave and sub-6 network. Still, this sacrifice alone should make 5 G phones much more affordable based on the 765/X52 combo.
Traditionally, mixed reality headsets have fallen into two camps: either paired, for better graphics, or mobile, for comfort, trading with visual acuity. The Snapdragon XR2 aims to blur those lines. It offers a heady 15 TOPS of AI quality as well as vast heaps of CPU and GPU for 3 K graphics per eye at 90fps each, slotting into Qualcomm’s flagship “eXtended Reality” platform.
Qualcomm had no reference design for us to test, but it had a big-name partner ready to announce. Niantic–the company behind popular AR games like Pokemon GO–announced working on a Snapdragon XR2-powered mixed reality headset with technology built on its massive social gaming platform.
It was the Snapdragon 8cx last year, a high-end ARM-based fanless laptop and2-in-1 chipset. Now, it’s becoming a family. The Snapdragon 8c and Snapdragon 7c offer the same mix of multi-day battery life, built-in cellular connectivity, and Windows 10 support for mid-and entry-level markets only.
That’s an enticing possibility, given that Qualcomm speaks of Snapdragon 7c machines reaching store shelves around the $400 mark. There’s a big AI push, as with the smartphone and XR platforms. Still, it’ll probably be factors such as markedly more extended battery life and the ability to get online without first hunting down a WiFi hotspot that’s most obviously appealing to users.
5G is not a new theme for Qualcomm, but it has doubled down on next-generation networks as both device manufacturers and carriers try to coax us to upgrade. It’s fair to say there’s still a lot of confusion about fifth-gen networks and complexity, mind. That doesn’t make it any easier to understand the different standards that are being adopted in the US alone.
For T-Mobile’s freshly-activated 600MHz 5G, we had a chance to test one of those new standards out this week. Speed enhancements over LTE may be much more conservative than, say, mmWave 5 G, but the advantage is ease of use. T-Mobile claims it provided coverage to over 200,000 customers in one fell swoop.
Qualcomm hopes that chipsets such as the Snapdragon 865 and 765 would push the market into a quicker transition, making 5 G modems necessary. That may or may not be valid, although the fact this old 5 G phones such as the OnePlus 7 T Pro 5 G McLaren can only accommodate some, not all, of the network innovations being deployed may be frustrating for early adopters. We’re going to have to see how things stand out over the next 6-12 months–including the widely anticipated Qualcomm modem in Apple’s new iPhone–before we know if 2020 is going to be 5 G age.