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Snapdragon 855+ Aims at Gaming

August 20, 2019

Author: Linley Gwennap

In a midyear upgrade, Qualcomm rolled out a new version of its flagship processor that provides greater CPU performance and faster graphics. As the name implies, the Snapdragon 855+ is otherwise identical to the original version, although a new software release also boosts AI performance. The first phone to feature the 855+ is the Asus ROG Phone 2, an impressive device that stretches the boundaries of what a smartphone can do.

The 855+ is a simple upgrade, boosting the maximum CPU speed from 2.84GHz to 2.96GHz. This 4% gain is likely due to higher yields in the TSMC 7nm technology. The peak GPU frequency jumps 15% to 672MHz, but this change has more to do with marketing than transistor speed. Compared with previous GPUs, Qualcomm reduced the speed of the Adreno 640 GPU to keep the original 855 from overheating; it boasts that the 855 can run the GPU at 585MHz indefinitely. The 855+ simply removes this limit, allowing the GPU to quickly burst up to its maximum speed, then throttle back once the chip heats up.

This approach, which Apple and others employ, works well for web browsing but not for high-end games. To solve this problem, the ROG Phone ships with a fan module that users can clip onto the back of the phone during intense gaming sessions. The extra cooling keeps the CPUs and GPUs at their peak speed. Even without the fan, the large (6.6-inch screen) phone has plenty of surface area for cooling and a capacious 6,000mAh battery.

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