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Snapdragon 845 Is a DynamIQ Force

January 30, 2018

Author: Mike Demler

Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 processor boasts upgrades in each of its core subsystems. Compared with its one-year-old predecessor, it delivers a 25–30% CPU and GPU performance gain, which combines with a redesigned Hexagon DSP to accelerate neural-network machine learning by 3x. The chip’s new Spectra image-signal-processor (ISP) core helps improve biometrics such as face, iris, and voice recognition; power computational photography; and enable six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) virtual-reality headsets with 4K displays.

The Snapdragon 845 is the first announced processor to use Arm’s new DynamIQ multicore architecture, which allows up to eight heterogeneous CPUs with multiple independent clock and voltage domains in the same cache-coherent cluster. Qualcomm’s “Built on Arm Cortex Technology” license permits it to customize and rebrand the CPUs; for this design, however, it uses an octa-core Big.Little configuration comprising stock Cortex-A75s and Cortex-A55s.

The new processor also integrates Qualcomm’s X20 LTE Cat18 modem, which increases the maximum downlink speed by 20% compared with the previous-generation X16. Because LTE Cat18 supports licensed and unlicensed carrier aggregation, the modem expands the available options for cellular operators looking to deploy gigabit networks.

For even faster wireless connectivity, albeit over short distances, the 845 integrates an 802.11ad Wi-Fi (WiGig) baseband that can process signals from two external 60GHz radio modules. Smartphone manufacturers will probably use two WiGig modules in diagonal corners to avoid blockage when the phone is in the user’s hand. Each module integrates 32 tiny diversity antennas, enabling up to 4.6Gbps connections. The baseband also supports 2x2 MIMO for connecting to an external 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip with dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) simultaneous transmission.

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