Qualcomm announced its Adreno 5xx GPU architecture as well as a 14-bit "Spectra" image signal processor that promises to create DSLR-quality and blur-free photography.
The company announced two first GPUs for this new architecture -- the Adreno 530, which will come with the Snapdragon 820 chip, and the Adreno 510, which will arrive in the Snapdragon 618 and 620. The Adreno 530 is 40 percent faster and uses 40 percent less power than the Adreno 430, according to Qualcomm.
The new architecture has support for 64-bit virtual addressing and allows for virtual shared memory and efficient co-processing with 64-bit CPUs. It also comes with improved power management, compositing, and compression techniques, which enable high performance on a lower power budget.
The new GPU supports OpenGL ES 3.1 with the Android Extension Pack (AEP), Renderscript, and the new OpenCL 2.0 and Vulkan standards, the latter of which minimizes driver overhead and enables better multi-threaded performance.
Adreno 5xx also supports 4k HEVC video playback at 60 fps over HDMI 2.0 to Rec. 2020 ultra-high definition (UHD) displays and TVs.
Spectra is a 14-bit dual-ISP that supports up to three simultaneous cameras (one in the front and two on the back) and up to 25MP resolution at 30 fps with zero-shutter lag. The new ISP also comes with a hybrid autofocus system (likely phase detection AF combined with contrast-based AF), along with multi-sensor fusion algorithms for next-generation computational photography.
As smartphones use lenses that are only so big or so expensive, they are significantly more limited in how much light they can capture compared to actual DSLR cameras. Advanced computational photography is one way to sidestep those limitations and improve photos through the ever-greater computing capabilities of smartphones.
Tim Leland, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., said:
"Qualcomm Spectra ISP, together with our Adreno 5xx-class GPU, brings an entirely new level of imaging to smartphones, and is designed to allow Snapdragon-powered devices to capture ultra-clear, vivid photos and videos regardless of motion and lighting conditions and display them with the color accuracy that nature intended. In addition, as emerging growth segments such as automotive demand more immersive visual experiences, Snapdragon 820 will enable the next generation of infotainment, computer vision and advanced processing for instrument clusters," he added.
The Snapdragon 820 is expected to arrive in the first half of 2016, which will likely disappoint many who were expecting it to be in at least one of the next-generation Nexus smartphones or the Sony Xperia Z5.