Qualcomm Brand Shot CES 2014-3

With an expected debut around the middle of the year, Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 805 chip should start showing up in devices soon. Perhaps in a sign that the 805 is indeed just around the corner, Qualcomm has allowed technology journalists to benchmark the new chip for the first time.

AnandTech’s Anand Lal Shimpi ran a suite of benchmarks on a Mobile Development Platform tablet provided by Qualcomm to see exactly what kind of performance the Snapdragon 805 brings to the game. His conclusions? It’s mostly about the next-gen graphics.

Here’s a quick presentation of the Snapdragon 805 MDP tablet. More details here.

Snapdragon 805 features

First, a little presentation of the chip. Snapdragon 805 (APQ8084) packs four 32-bit ARMv7-A Krait 450 CPU cores built on the 28nm process and clocked at up to 2.65GHz, and an Adreno 420 GPU clocked at 600MHz and supporting OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL 1.2, and Direct3D 11.2.

The chip supports a memory bandwidth of 25.6GB/s, 4K displays, a 1.2Gigapixel/s ISP throughput, and a fast DSP to make sense of all the information offered by sensors on modern devices. Notably absent is a built-in LTE modem, removed to accommodate a wider memory interface within the constraints of a smartphone design. More details on the tech specs here.

qualcomm snapdragon 805

Via AnandTech

Don’t expect a crazy CPU improvement

Anand ran the Snapdragon 805-powered MDP tablet through benchmarks designed to test CPU and GPU performance respectively. See all the results here.

In the CPU department, benchmark scores suggest the Krait 450 provides just a minor performance bump compared to the Snapdragon 800/801. At most, the 2.7GHz 805 scored 6% better compared to a Snapdragon 801 spinning at 2.5GHz. But, depending on the specifics of each device, even that marginal improvement may be lost.

snapdragon 805 sunspider benchmark

Via AnandTech

Next generation graphics performance

The real improvements come in the GPU department. The 805’s Adreno 420 is the first in Qualcomm’s new series 4XX of GPUs, and in this respect, the Snapdragon 805’s biggest reason of existence is to act as a “vehicle” for the new graphics silicon.

According to Qualcomm, Adreno 420 should provide a 40% increase in graphics performance, accompanied by a 20% decrease in power consumption, compared to the Adreno 330 in the Snapdragon 801.

Anand’s benchmarks confirmed the performance increase – more precisely, in GPU tests, the 805 did between 20% and 50% better than the 801. In most benchmarks, this performance gain puts Qualcomm’s MDP tablet ahead of most devices out there, including the iPad Air, the HTC One (M8), and the Nvidia Shield.

snapdragon 805 gfxbench benchmark

Via AnandTech

The caveat is Qualcomm did not let the press measure power consumption, and, in fact, the MDP tablet that benchmarks were ran on was plugged into an AC source. So there’s still some uncertainty around battery consumption in real life devices.

What devices will feature the Snapdragon 805?

Qualcomm also provided AnandTech a bit of insight into OEMs plans for the Snapdragon 805, and later 808/810. According to the chipmaker, some clients will use the intermediary 805 until the 808/810 comes, while others will choose to stick to the current 801 until next year.

For devices that need high-performance graphics, the 805 makes sense. These include gaming-oriented devices and devices with resolution higher than 1080p. That’s because an Adreno 420 GPU can drive a Quad HD display at the same performance as an Adreno 330 with a 1080p screen.

But for general purpose devices with 1080p screens, the slight CPU bump and the other features offered by Snapdragon 805 may not be worth the trouble of moving from the 801.

Looking forward, leaks suggest the LG G3 will come with a Snapdragon 801 processor, despite its Quad HD screen. The Quad HD HTC M8 Prime, however, could pack the 805, rumor has it, just like the Prime version of the Galaxy S5.

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