Qualcomm last week began dropping hints that the details of its latest Snapdragon chip would “come into focus” at CES this week, and the company delivered on that promise Tuesday with the unveiling of a new 835 processor that is heavy on image improvements geared toward a virtual reality future.
Constructed using Samsung’s 10 nm process, the tiny Snapdragon 835 chip comes with a huge package of upgrades. According to Qualcomm, the 835 is 35 percent smaller and uses 25 percent less power than its flagship predecessors (thanks in part to a 60 percent reduction in Wi-Fi power consumption via integrated 2×2 11 ac MU-MIMO), which the company said will boost battery life and allow for slimmer device designs. If the battery does get drained, though, Qualcomm noted users can get 5 hours of battery on five minutes of charging thanks to the 835’s built in support for Quick Charge 4.
And that insta-charging capability seems like it will certainly come in handy in the mobile entertainment future the 835 is built for.
The new chip includes significant boost to image processing in anticipation of VR and other mobile video use cases courtesy of Qualcomm’s Kyro 280 CPU and Hexagon 682 DSP, which includes support for TensorFlow for machine learning and Halide for image processing. Additionally, Qualcomm said the 835 includes enhancements to the Adreno visual processing subsystem via a new Adreno 540 GPU and Qualcomm Spectra 180 image sensor processor (ISP) for “next-generation camera capabilities.
On the Spectra 180 front, Qualcomm indicated the Snapdragon 835 will feature dual 14-bit ISPs to open the possibility for a single 32 mp camera or dual 16 mp cameras for an improved photography and videography experience.
All told, the company reported the 835 boasts a 25 percent improvement in 3D graphics rendering performance, support for up to 60 times more colors thanks to the Adreno 540, as well as support for 4K Ultra HD premium (HDR10) video, wide color gamut 10-bit displays, object and scene-based 3D audio, and VR/AR motion tracking based on Qualcomm’s sensor fusion-based six degrees of freedom (6DoF). Oh, and it comes with support for Google Daydream.
“Our new flagship Snapdragon processor is designed to meet the demanding requirements of mobile virtual reality and ubiquitous connectivity while supporting a variety of thin and light mobile designs,” Qualcomm Technologies Executive Vice President Cristiano Amon said. “The Snapdragon 835 has an unprecedented level of technology integration that supports superior battery life, improved multimedia, and exceptional photography with gigabit class speeds for fast, immersive experiences.”
Notably, Qualcomm claimed the chip will also be the first commercial processor to support “Gigabit-class connectivity” thanks to an X16 LTE modem that comes with integrated 2×2 802.11ac Wave-2 and 802.11ad Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi capabilities.
The processor will also come with Qualcomm’s Haven security platform to provide support for fingerprint, eye, and face-based biometrics as well as hardware-based user authentication, device attestation, and device security for use cases such as mobile payments and enterprise access. To top it all off, Snapdragon 835 will be the first certified Bluetooth 5 commercial technology, offering 2 mbps.
Qualcomm said the Snapdragon 835 is in production now and is expected to ship in commercial devices in the first half of this year. The company didn’t give any device details, but did note the chip is expected to be used in “premium-tier” smartphones, VR and AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs, and other devices running “a variety” of operating systems, including Android and Windows 10.