Published on January 4th, 2017 | by Shiva Singh


What’s new in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 – CES 2017

Earlier last November at a media event in New York, Qualcomm announced their next generation premium tier product, the Snapdragon 835 processor, the successor to the Snapdragon 820/821, a mobile processor of choice for some of the latest smartphones out right now like the OnePlus 3T, Google Pixel, LG G5, etc. The Snapdragon 835 processor is designed to support devices such as smartphones, VR/AR head mounted displays, tablets, IP cameras, etc. 

The Snapdragon 835 is the first mobile processor running on a 10 nanometer architecture, with over 3 billion transistors, on a form factor of about 35% smaller than the Snapdragon 820. Some of the key components include a X16 LTE modem, the first supporting gigabit class LTE in a mobile device, integrated 2×2 802.11ac Wave 2 WiFi, Bluetooth 5, and 802.11ad for multi-gigabit wireless. The power on this chip comes from a Qualcomm Kyro 280 CPU, a Qualcomm Hexagon 682 DSP, and a ADRENO 540 GPU with a Spectra 180 ISP. 

The CPU has a 20% performance uplift over the Snapdragon 820 – quad core up to 2.45GHz with 2MB L2 cache. The efficiency cluster does 1.8GHz with a 1MB L2 cache. In order to optimize performance, over 80% of the time is spent on the energy cluster. 

Starting off with battery life- the Snapdragon 835 offers massive improvements over previous chips, starting from power consumption, which has reduced to half that of the Snapdragon 801 processor, and 25% less than the Snapdragon 820. Charging sees an improvement too with the launch of QuickCharge 4, delivering 5 hours of battery life from a 5 minute charge. This is about 20% faster charging than QuickCharge 3.0. The new power efficient chipsets allow for 1+ days worth of talk time, 5+ days of music playback, 11 hours of 4K video playback, or 7+ hours of 4K video streaming on the device. 

Virtual & Augmented Reality is playing a huge part at CES this year, and will be one of the main trends in technology for 2017. The Snapdragon 835 supports Google’s Daydream, a platform for high quality VR on Android as seen in devices like the Google Pixel. 3-D graphics rendering has improved by 25% in performance with support of up to 60x more colors with Adreno 540. The chip also supports 4K UltraHD premium HDR10 video, wide color gamut 10-bit displays. For intuitive interactions in VR/AR headsets, the motion to photon latency has reduced to 15milliseconds, with accelerated eye and hand tracking, sensor fusion based on 6 DoF tracking. Minimising this motion to photon latency is crucial in avoiding that weird sensation experienced when the tracking has a significant lag over any movement, especially in head tracking. 

The Snapdragon 835 contains two separate chips for Image Signal Processing, perfect for the now common two lens set up in most smartphones (a wide angle and a telephoto lens). New trajectory smoothing algorithms, along with Electronic Image Stabilization 3.0 focus on 2K and 4K video, enhancing rolling shutter correction delivering a highly stable video for smartphones, camcorders, cameras, etc. It also enhances support for fast auto focus and HDR true to life colors with perceptual quantization video encoding. The chip will support upto a single 32MP sensor, or a two-lens 16MP setup. 

Connectivity gets a major upgrade on the Snapdragon 835, on cellular data, wifi and bluetooth. The integrated X16 modem supports gigabit class 4G LTE (Category 16 LTE) and integrates a 2×2 802.11ac Wave 2 + 802.11ad multi gigabit WiFi for single room coverage, making it the first commercial processor equipped to deliver gigabit speeds at home and on the move. These speeds are great for cloud based instant apps, where a regular 20mb instant app would take 3.6 seconds to load on a Cat4 LTE device, this drops down to 1.4 seconds on average, on a Cat 16 LTE chip. The experience for ‘gigabit everywhere’ is quite possible now, as networks in UAE & Qatar are rolling out gigabit fibre at home, and gigabit speeds over LTE on the move. The X16 LTE modem supports Licensed Assisted Access, 3x Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM for faster throughput, beam forming at cell edge and 4×4 MIMO enhancing reception at the cell edge. 

The Qualcomm Haven security platform built into the chipsets provides support for fingerprint recognition, eye and face based biometrics & secure authentication (much like Iris Scan on the Galaxy Note 7). It also includes hardware based user authentication, device attestation and device security for mobile payments, enterprise access, and personal data on the phone. 

The improvements on the Snapdragon 835 are massive, and the chip is expected to ship out in consumer devices within the first half of 2017. With Mobile World Congress coming up later next month, we should be seeing a bunch of new smartphones, VR / AR headsets, tablets being announced with the new Snapdragon 835. 

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Founder of - Social Media, Digital Marketing & Advertising Professional with a passion for devices & technology. Uses an iPhone 6, Galaxy Note 4 & MacBook Pro. Follow him on twitter at @shivasingh

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