Qualcomm’s next flagship smartphone processor will start showing up in 2019, and unsurprisingly it should offer better all-around performance than its predecessors.

But the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 doesn’t just bring the usual speed and efficiency improvements. It’s also Qualcomm’s first chip with built-in support for 5G wireless networks and with a 4th-gen AI engine that the company says offers a 3X improvement over the Snapdragon 845 when it comes to artificial intelligence.

5G is the next generation of wireless technology which is set to replace 4G LTE. The rollout is expected to begin in earnest in 2019. It’ll probably be a few years before the switch-over is complete, but the goal isn’t just to bring faster speeds. 5G is also designed to offer lower latency, lower power consumption, and more bandwidth/capacity.

The idea is to not only provide technology to get smartphones, laptops, and tablets online… but also smart connected devices including watches, cars, and smart home gadgets, just to name a few examples.

In addition to unveiling the Snapdragon 855 at an event in Hawaii today, Qualcomm revealed a 5G smartphone reference design which looks… like a phone… with a 5G icon in the status bar.

Artificial Intelligence, meanwhile, comes into play for things like computation photography. Qualcomm says it’s built computer vision hardware into the chip, enabling phones to better recognize people and objects they’re looking at. That can be used for things like automatic scene selection, portrait mode, and “Night Sight” features can all benefit from on-device artificial intelligence.

In terms of more traditional specs, the Snapdragon 855 is expected to be a 7nm, octa-core processor with Adreno 640 graphics and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem as well as a Snapdragon X24 LTE modem.

The CPU cores are expected to be arranged in a tri-cluster design:

  • 1 x 2.84 GHz Kryo Gold Prime CPU core
  • 3 x 2.42 GHz Kryo Gold CPU cores
  • 4 x 1.78 GHz Kryo Silver CPU cores

Qualcomm has also introduced a new ultrasonic sensor for under-display fingerprint sensors. And the company says the new chip is optimized for gaming with improved graphics and audio performance.

Update: Qualcomm had revealed more details about the upcoming chip. The company says it will offer up to a 45 percent performance boost over the Snapdragon 845 in CPU power, up to 20 percent better graphics performance, and up to 3X the AI performance.

It has an ISP that can handle 4K video recording at 60 frames per second.

The first phone to ship with a Snapdragon 855 chip will be the next flagship from OnePlus.

Update 2: Make that one of the first.

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6 replies on “Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 is designed for 5G and AI”

    1. Marketing name vs part name. SM8150 is the chip name, the marketing name is “snapdragon 855” but could just have easily been “electric boogaloo”.

  1. I wonder if they’ve gone back to using their own in-house CPU designs, or if these are ARM licensed cores?

    1. They only used straight up am cores in the 810 I think. The latest ones have been modified arm cores from what I understand. A few years back arm started offering the ability for some to make adjustments/optimizations to their cores. But it would be cool/interesting if they had gone back to a completely in-house design.

      1. Here’s the history:

        I’m not familiar with the Snapdragon S1.
        The Snapdragon S2 was a Very Custom core, loosely based on the Stock Cortex A8, but it was worse.
        The Snapdragon S3 was a Very Custom core based on the S1 (A8) and upgraded, it was much worse than the Cortex A9.
        The Snapdragon S4 (Krait 200-300) was a Very Custom core, loosely based on the Stock Cortex A9, and it was much better than the Cortex A9.
        The Snapdragon S4.5 (Krait 400-450) was a Very Custom core, based on the S4 (A9) and upgraded (Cortex A15), it was much better than the Cortex A15.
        The Snapdragon “S6” or Kryo-100 was a Very Custom core, based on the Cortex A57, and it was slightly worse than the Cortex A72.

        …and now the trickier part, from worst to fastest:
        The Snapdragon Kryo-250 (Silver) was a stock core based on Cortex A53, and was equal.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-460 (Silver) was a stock core based on Cortex A55, and was slightly worse.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-360 (Silver) was a stock core based on Cortex A55, and was equal.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-380 (Silver) was a slight custom core based on the Cortex A55, and was equal.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-480? (Silver) will probably be a slight custom core based on the Cortex A55, and probably be slightly better.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-260 (Gold) was a stock core based on Cortex A73, and was equal.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-280 was a slight custom core based on the Cortex A73, and was slightly better.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-370 (Gold) was a stock core based on the Cortex A75, and was equal.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-470 (Gold) was a stock core based on the Cortex A76, and was slightly worse.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-385 (Gold) was a slight custom core based on the Cortex A75, and was slightly better.
        The Snapdragon Kryo-485? (Gold) will probably be a slight custom core based on the Cortex A76, and probably be slightly better.

        ….I hope this can be helpful to someone, Qualcomm really makes it confusing on purpose!

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