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Next Gen flagship mobile processors



Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820

Qualcomm finally revealed their next gen SoC’s specs. The Snapdragon 820 is Qualcomm’s return to custom-designed CPU cores, which was the case with initial 801 and 805 series processors.

The Snapdragon 820 comes with a quad-core CPU with 64-bit Kryo cores, which can be clocked at up to 2.2 GHz. In terms of graphics the Adreno 530 GPU is used. Snapdragon 820 uses 30% less power for the same time of use than Snapdragon 810. It’s said to come with a 40% improvement to graphics performance.

On the modem side, Qualcomm is claiming 15% improvement in power efficiency which should eliminate any remaining gap between LTE and WiFi battery life.

On the CPU side, it has two high-performance cores clocked at 2.2 GHz and two low-power cores clocked at 1.6 or 1.7GHz. The Snapdragon 820 will be manufactured on the 14nm FinFET process.


CPU configuration of SD 820. Source: AnandTech

Qualcomm is now offering their own speaker amp/protection IC. This will compete which OEMs who integrated sound chips like HTC with beats and Sony with Hi-Res audio. The chip delivers stereo sound effects in devices with stereo front-facing speakers. It supports superior Hi-Fi sound, great noise performances, superior power efficiency and powerful sound with small chip footprint.

For connectivity due to its X12 LTE modem, the S820 supports Cat.12 LTE downloads (with 600Mbps peaks) and Cat.13 uploads (with 150Mbps peaks). In terms of technologies supported, there’s FDD and TDD for LTE, DB-DC-HSDPA, DC-HSUPA, TD-SCDMA, EV-DO and CDMA 1x, as well as GSM/EDGE. LTE/Wi-Fi link aggregation is in too, as is support for LTE-U, LTE Broadcast, dual-SIM, VoLTE, and Wi-Fi calling. The Wi-Fi part of the chip gets support for 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac connections.

SD 820 also improves on low light photo and video performance as it uses the Hexagon 680 DSP and Spectra 14-bit dual ISP. The main area of interest in this is improved visibility of underexposed areas by boosting shadow visibility, while also eliminating the resulting noise through temporal noise reduction.

4K displays are supported by the S820, along with up to 28MP cameras through the new 14-bit dual-ISP. The chipset also works with UFS 2.0 or eMMC 5.1 flash storage, LPDDR4 1866MHz dual-channel memory, USB 3.0 or 2.0, and NFC. Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 is four times faster than conventional charging and 38% faster than Quick Charge 2.0.



Samsung Exynos 8 Octa 8890

The Exynos 8890 is still a 4+4 big.LITTLE design using four Cortex A53 cores in the little cluster, but on the big cluster we see for the first time Samsung’s own custom developed CPU architecture deployed in silicon. The new core, officially called the Exynos M1 is in-house CPU architecture but is very similar to ARM’s big core architectures. Manufactured on same 14nm FinFET process like the Exynos 7420 before.


CPU configuration of 8890. Source: AnandTech


Samsung is claiming the Exynos 8890 will provide up to 30% higher performance and 10% better power efficiency than the Exynos 7420’s. The new chip benefits from what’s dubbed Samsung Coherent Interconnect (SCI) technology, for better interaction between the two separate clusters.

For the first time Exynos has an integrated modem. It supports Cat. 12/13 LTE. The new modem supports LTE Category 12 download speeds with up to 3x carrier aggregation up to 600Mbps or uploads speeds up to 150Mbps on Cat. 13.

Samsung uses the Mali-T880MP12 with twelve cores. This is 50 % increase in number of cores as in MP8 and is the biggest Mali core implementation to date and increases the number of cores by 50% compared to the Exynos 7420’s MP8 configuration. This means there will be increase in power consumption but the official number was not mentioned by Samsung. The new chip supports display resolutions up to 4K which seems believable thanks to that powerful GPU.


HiSilicon Kirin 950

HiSilicon continues the usage of a traditional big.LITTLE setup with four Cortex A72 and four A53 cores. Frequency of big A72 cores is up to 2.3GHz while the little cores clock in at up to 1.8GHz. HiSilicon estimates that the A72 is overall 11% faster clock-for-clock than current A57 designs, so together with the slightly higher clocks we should see the Kirin 950 perform about 20% better than the Exynos 7420 in CPU-bound tasks. The Kirin 950 is HiSilicon’s first TSMC 16FF+ manufactured mobile SoC. Kirin 950 will also be providing support for dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM, UFS 2.0, and eMMC 5.1 storage.

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On the GPU side, the Kirin 950 gets an upgrade to Mali’s new T880 GPU, again making this the first silicon implementation of the new ARM IP. The designers chose to remain with an MP4 configuration, but with a vastly increased clock rate of to up to 900MHz. As the name MP4 suggests that the number of GPU cores are 4. Here HiSilicon choose to remain with lower core count and increase in frequency to decrease power consumption.

In terms of connectivity, the SoC still employs an integrated modem capable of Category 6 LTE speeds of up to 300 Mbps.

A dedicated DSP audio co-processor called a Tensilica Hi-Fi 4 DSP, to satisfy audio quality and performance. A co-processor i7 will act as a sensor, connectivity, and security hub, and will take care of the less intensive tasks in order to provide more breathing room for the primary octa-core CPU.

Kirin 950 will also support up to a 42 MP camera sensors. SoC can decode HEVC at up to 4K resolution at 30fps and encode at 1080p30 H.264.


MediaTek Unveils Helio X20

It is the first 10 core SoC design. The 10 processor cores are arranged in a tri-cluster orientation. The three clusters consist of a low power quad-core A53 cluster clocked at 1.4 GHz, a power/performance balanced quad-core A53 cluster at 2.0GHz, and an extreme performance dual-core A72 cluster clocked in at 2.5GHz. The Snapdragon 820 will be manufactured on the TSMC 20nm process.


CPU configuration of x20. Source: AnandTech


MediaTek has CDMA2000 compatible integrated modem with the X20. As well as the X20’s modem allows for LTE Release 11 Category 6 with speeds up to 300Mbps in the downstream direction and 50Mbps upstream. The SoC also has an integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi with what seems to be a single spatial stream rated in the spec sheets up to 280Mbps.

For multimedia a new integrated Cortex-M4 companion-core which serves as both an audio processor for low-power audio decoding, speech enhancement features and voice recognition, as well as sensor-hub function acting as a microcontroller for offloading sensor data processing from the main CPU cores. This means that while the device has the display turned off but is playing audio, only the M4 is in use in order to prolong battery life.

The X20 has Mali T800 series GPU SoC. MediaTek has MP4 configuration clocked in at 700MHz which when compared to that with Exynos and HiSilicon is less powerful but will consume less power. Compared to the Helio X10’s there is 40% improvement in performance with a 40% drop in power.

The x20 will also support up to a 32 MP camera sensors. SoC can decode and encode HEVC at up to 4K resolution at 30fps. On the memory side, MediaTek remains with a 2x32bit LPDDR3 memory interface running at 933MHz. MediaTek’s SoC is limited to 2k screens.






Quick Comparison:

Snapdragon 820 Exynos 8890 Kirin 950 Helio X20
CPU 2x Kryo at 2.2GHz
2x Kryo at 1.7GHz
4x custom AP at2.4GHz
4x Cortex-A53
4x Cortex-A72 at 2.3GHZ
4x Cortex-A53 at 1.8GHz
2x Cortex-A72 at 2.5GHz
4x Cortex-A53 at 2.0GHz
4x Cortex-A53 at 1.4GHz
Instruction Set ARMv8-A (32/64-bit)
GPU Adreno 530 Mali-T880 Mali-T880 MP4 Mali-T880 MP4
Process 14nm FinFET 14nm FinFET 16nm FinFET 20nm HMP
Camera Up to 28MP Up to 42MP Up to 32MP
4G LTE Cat 12/13 LTE Cat 12/13 LTE Cat 6 LTE Cat 6


Sachin Agarwal
Sachin Agarwal
Meet Sachin Agarwal, a passionate social media enthusiast and a self-proclaimed geek with an unbreakable bond with technology. Currently serving as a Senior Manager in On-Demand Delivery at Reliance Jiobp, Sachin's fascination with technology remains unwavering while others his age may have experienced numerous breakups. Throughout his journey, Sachin has earned countless treats from friends who sought his expertise in resolving laptop and computer issues. Technology runs in his veins, making him the go-to Tech Advisor for everyone fortunate enough to know him. Now, with Indian Tech Guys as his platform, Sachin aims to share his vast knowledge and insightful reviews with the world, establishing himself as the "Sachin of Technology." Join him on this exciting venture as he explores and embraces all things tech.
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