Qualcomm introduced two new Snapdragon platforms for its “High Tier” with the Snapdragon 660 and the Snapdragon 630. The chips bring higher performance compared to the previous generation, as well as improved photography, support for machine learning software, and more.
Compared to the company’s previous Snapdragon 653, the new Snapdragon 660 has a Kyro 260 processor that's 20% faster and an Adreno 512 GPU that's 30% faster.
The Kryo 260 CPU is made up of two clusters of four CPU cores each. The CPUs in one cluster can go up to 2.2GHz, whereas the cores in the other cluster hit up to 1.8GHz.
The Snapdragon 630 promises a 10% increase in performance over its predecessor (Snapdragon 625) and also a 30% increase in graphics performance. However, unlike the 660 that uses Kryo cores, the 630 comes with Cortex-A53 cores, which are beginning to look a little dated, even at 2.2GHz clock speeds.
The Snapdragon 660 supports resolutions up to 2560x1440, whereas the Snapdragon 630 supports resolutions up to only 1080p. Both platforms are built on a 14nm FinFET process, support up to 8GB of RAM, and sport Vulkan (the low-level graphics API).
Camera Support Improvements
Qualcomm’s Spectra 160 image signal processor (ISP) supports improved image quality with more natural skin tones, better low-light photography, and higher battery efficiency. Additionally, the new ISP comes with improved support for dual cameras as well as features such as smooth optical zoom, bokeh effects, dual pixel autofocus, and camcorder stabilization.
Qualcomm’s new electronic image stabilization will take advantage of the gyroscope to correct the pitch, yaw, and roll. The technology will likely be similar to what Google is using in its Pixel phone in order to avoid having to use the bulkier Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).
The new Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile platforms include a Qualcomm X12 modem that brings peak downlink data rates of up to 600Mbps--a first for the 600-series chips. The Snapdragon 660’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip offers twice as much throughput and 60% lower download power consumption compared to the Snapdragon 652.
Both of the new chips support Bluetooth 5.0, which has four times the range and twice the transmission speed of the previous Bluetooth 4.2 technology.
Quick Charge 4
Qualcomm’s latest “Quick Charge 4” fast charging technology can charge up to 50% of a smartphone’s battery within 15 minutes, or give five hours of talk time with only five minutes of charge. Quick Charge 4 is USB-PD and USB Type-C compliant.
The Qualcomm Mobile Security solution provides hardware-based protection, user authentication, and device attestation on the mobile device.
Qualcomm seems to want to take advantage of the growing trend of on-device machine learning by supporting the open source TensorFlow, Caffe, and Caffe2 machine learning software frameworks. The company is also offering OEMs and developers access to its own Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine software development kit (SDK).
All of these software tools will be supported by the CPU, GPU, and Qualcomm’s Hexagon digital signal processor (DSP), as well as its HVX vector extensions.
Qualcomm said that over 1,000 Snapdragon 600 designs have already launched or are in the pipeline. The Snapdragon 660 is already shipping, whereas the 630 will ship towards the end of this month.
“With the introduction of the Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms, we are thrilled that features such as improved image quality and fast LTE speeds will now be available in a wide array of devices without sacrificing performance or quality,” said Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “This ensures that a greater number of consumers will be able to take advantage of higher quality user experiences in camera, audio and visual processing, connectivity, improved CPU and GPU performance, fast charging, security and machine learning,” he added.