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Meet the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform

Snapdragon 845 brings major advancements in immersive AV, AI, security, connectivity and performance

For the past five year, Qualcomm Technologies has spent more than $1 billion per quarter on research and development. Last week, with a bevy of executives, partners, press and analysts on hand in Maui, Hawaii, the results of that R&D spend were showcased with the launch of the Snapdragon 845 mobile platform, the company’s new generation mobile platform.

The platform is built with the Spectra 280 ISP (image signal processor); Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem; Hexagon 685 DSP (digital signal processor); the Cat 18 X20 modem, which supports up to 1.2 Gpbs throughput, LAA, CBRS and dual-SIM/dual VoLTE; a secure processing unit; Aqstic Audio; Quick Charge 4+; and the Kyro 385 CPU.

“That’s a lot of changes for one year. All so the 100s of designs that will come out with the Snapdragon 845 are differentiated and customized for each OEM that wants to bring a flagship to market,” Keith Kressin, SVP Product Management, said. “This is what we mean when we say we offer an entirely new platform.”

Tim Leland, VP Product Management and leader of visual processing, discussed enhancements to color depth and color gamut which “describes the range of colors displayed,” as well as a new experience based on “cinema graph…We call this emotion. It allows the user to select a portion of the scene that they want to capture in video and composite that, and blend that in with the rest of the scene that was captured a s still image” using computational photography and post processing. 

The cinema graph example demonstrated at the Snapdragon Summit showed a young girl resting her head on a countertop and looking at a pet goldfish in a bowl. The still image was just that, but the cinema graph experience showed the goldfish moving around its bowl while the rest of the scene stayed static.

The Snapdragon 845 features new level of support for XR experiences, which encompasses artificial reality, virtual reality, merged reality “and everything in between,” Leland said, which will support new tools for industrial manufacturing, health care, military, engineering and emergency response. “What does all this add up to? What it really makes room for is smarter computing.”

Gary Brotman, director product management, spoke the new mobile platform’s support for artificial intelligence. “It is a transformative technology. It is transforming everything. Every industry, top to bottom, products and services, back office processes and development processes are all being augmented and improved by artificial intelligence. This technology movement will accelerate at an amazing pace. AI and machine learning has traditionally been something that has been relegated to the cloud. Intelligence is moving to the edge” to improve baseline performance for real-time applications, privacy and reliability.

He said the AI-related capabilities of the Snapdragon 845 represent a three-times improvement over the Snapdragon 835.

Sy Choudhury, senior director, product management, discussed the “vault-like security” that comes with the new secure processing unit on the Snapdragon 845. “At the end of the day, security is a set of defensive features that we incorporate into the hardware and the firmware. Privacy is a key benefit of security.” 

The secure processing unit has its own dedicated core, microprocessor, memory and cryptography engine to ensure privacy, security and trustability for a variety of applications including biometric authentication, mobile payments

Peter Carson, senior director of product marketing, described efforts to create a “wireless fiber” experience for gigabit LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi networks. The Snapdragon 845’s X20 modem represents a 20% improvement over the X16. The new modem supports five-channel carrier aggregation, 4X4 MIMO, License Assisted Access and dual SIM, dual VoLTE technology designed to divide usage between the two SIMs. “There’s now no compromises,” Carson said. “The second SIM is no longer relegated to 2G and 3G.” The new modem can support up to 1.2 Gbps on either SIM for better quality, coverage and resiliency deep into a building.

Other connectivity features include multi-gigabit Wi-Fi based on the 802.11ad standard, as well as an integrated 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with dual band simultaneous support; and Bluetooth 5 for ultra-low power wireless ear bud support and direct audio broadcast to multiple devices.

Carson called it the “most advanced connectivity in a smartphone ever and a big step to the 5G experience.”

Devices built on the Snapdragon 845 are expected out in early 2018 with Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun on hand in Maui to confirm the Chinese device maker’s Mi 7, which is currently under development, will feature the new mobile platform.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean Kinney, Editor in Chief
Sean focuses on multiple subject areas including 5G, Open RAN, hybrid cloud, edge computing, and Industry 4.0. He also hosts Arden Media's podcast Will 5G Change the World? Prior to his work at RCR, Sean studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company. He currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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