Qualcomm is hosting the “Snapdragon Technology Summit” in Hawaii this week, where it unveiled its flagship system-on-a-chip (SoC) for 2018: the Snapdragon 845. Qualcomm has a near-monopoly on the high-end smartphone SoC market, so unless you’re buying an iPhone or non-US Samsung phone, you can expect most 2018 flagship smartphones to be powered by Qualcomm’s latest. You might even see the chip in your next laptop, with Qualcomm breaking into the Windows 10 market.
The SoC is manufactured by Samsung on the company’s 10nm process, just like the Snapdragon 835. The Kryo 385 is once again a derivative of ARM’s Cortex CPU, with four “performance” cores (based on the Cortex A75) clocked at up to 2.8GHz and four “efficiency” cores (based on the Cortex A55) that run at up to 1.8GHz. Qualcomm is boosting the performance core clock speeds by 19 percent over the Snapdragon 835, but thanks to a CPU redesign, Qualcomm is promising a “25-percent performance uplift” over the previous generation. The CPU also gets a new 2MB L3 cache and 3MB of system cache.
The GPU is now the Adreno 630, and Qualcomm is promising “30-percent faster graphics” and “30-percent better power efficiency.” The company says a 2.5×-faster display throughput will allow for a 2K×2K display at 120Hz. Qualcomm is really pushing AR and VR with the Snapdragon 845, promising out-of-the-box support for eye tracking, hand tracking, foveated rendering (adding more detail to the part of the screen you’re looking at), multiview rendering (great for rendering the left and right eyes in VR goggles), and HTC Vive-style six degree of freedom (6DoF) tracking for headsets and controllers. In fact, the Adreno 630 GPU isn’t even called a “GPU” anymore—now it’s a “Visual Processing Subsystem.” It’s not that any of this was impossible before, but now Qualcomm is officially supporting all of these VR/AR use cases out of the box.