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Top 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 features you should know

From sheer power to gaming features, the Snapdragon 855 sees plenty of tweaks and improvements.

Published onFebruary 5, 2019

Qualcomm has officially peeled the curtain back on the Snapdragon 855 chipset, expected to power most major flagship smartphones in 2019. There are quite a few new upgrades in this chipset, and we’re here to tell you the most important features to know. Here are the top five Snapdragon 855 features!

A big leap in CPU power

Qualcomm has joined Huawei, MediaTek, and Samsung in offering a tri-cluster CPU arrangement. This setup consists of one high-end Kryo 485 core clocked at 2.84GHz, three Kryo 485 cores hitting 2.42GHz, and four Kryo 485 cores hitting 1.8GHz.

The firm has revealed a CPU performance improvement of up to 45 percent over Qualcomm’s previous flagship processor. By comparison, the chipmaker claimed a CPU-related boost of 25 percent for the Snapdragon 845. This performance boost is likely due to Qualcomm adopting Arm’s new Cortex-A76 core,  which promises huge gains out of the box.

This boost along with the tri-cluster arrangement means we could potentially see much faster performance and reduced power consumption in Snapdragon 855 phones.

A smaller boost for GPU

Qualcomm’s GPUs are among the best in the industry, as the Snapdragon 845 and cheaper chipsets deliver great performance in games and other graphic-intensive applications.

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Thankfully, Qualcomm isn’t resting on its laurels here, promising up to 20 percent better performance from the Adreno 640 GPU. This isn’t quite as big a leap as the “up to 30 percent” improvement touted by the Snapdragon 845, but the company is also delivering a lot more than just raw performance (more on that later).

Qualcomm upgrades AI Engine

The chipmaker has traditionally used the Hexagon digital signal processor for machine learning tasks instead of dedicated AI silicon, delivering plenty of power in the process. The Snapdragon 855 sees Qualcomm deliver a new Hexagon 690 processor, and this is a big leap forward on paper.

The Hexagon 690 features a new Hexagon Tensor Accelerator for machine learning tasks, as well as new vector extensions to deliver more nimble performance. All in all, Qualcomm says its new AI Engine (taking the CPU and GPU into account too) delivers seven trillion operations per second and three times the performance of the Snapdragon 845.

A smarter, more capable ISP

The image signal processor (ISP) is one of the most important features if you’re concerned about camera quality in your smartphone. Qualcomm delivered some improvements here too.

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The new Spectra 380 ISP supports a single 48MP main camera or two 22MP cameras (no word on triple-camera setups, although the LG V40 coped just fine).We also see support for the new HDR10+ standard, portrait mode for videos, and HEIF support for photos. Qualcomm is also touting 4K HDR recording at 60fps, although it said the same thing about the previous flagship chipset.

The chipmaker added a ton more computer vision (CV) smarts to the ISP, going so far as to call it a CV-ISP. These computer vision tricks include depth-sensing, as well as object classification and segmentation. Finally, the company is claiming 4x overall power savings compared to the Snapdragon 845.

Qualcomm jumps on the gaming train

The end of 2017 signaled the return of the gaming phone, and we’ve seen plenty more devices since. It’s not surprising Qualcomm launched the Snapdragon Elite Gaming suite of features.

Developers can now take advantage of HDR, physically based rendering, Vulkan 1.1 support, “filmic” tone-mapping, and reduced latency in multiplayer games. The chip company also says it’s worked to reduce dropped frames by over 90 percent.

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