Qualcomm announced that its mid-range chips for next year, the Snapdragon 618 and Snapdragon 620, will be renamed the Snapdragon 650 and Snapdragon 652, respectively, to better represent the jump in performance over the Snapdragon 615, 616 and 617.
Whereas the Snapdragon 615 came with Cortex-A53 CPU cores (the same ones in the lower-end Snapdragon 410 chip, but at a higher clock rate), the new Snapdragon 650 and 652 will bring ARM’s latest Cortex-A72 CPU core.
The new CPU core is ARM’s highest-end CPU design and a direct successor to Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A72. According to the company, the Cortex-A72 is 3.5x faster on a 16nm FinFET process than the Cortex-A15 was on a 28nm process, and 1.9x faster than the Cortex-A57 built on 20nm.
Despite this large performance improvement over the Cortex-A57, which was in this year’s highest-end chips (and even caused some overheating issues in 20nm chips), Qualcomm is still going to use it in its mid-range SoCs, such as the Snapdragon 650 and Snapdragon 652, for next year. That’s because Qualcomm must believe (or know) that its Kryo cores that will be inside its flagship chip, the Snapdragon 820, are even faster.
According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 650 and 652 chips have seen quite high demand from device makers so far. This could be because the two chips have, for the first time in this tier, 4k video capture and playback support, as well as strong gaming capabilities thanks to the next-generation Adreno 510 GPU. The chips also come integrated with Qualcomm’s X8 LTE generation, which brings Cat. 6 LTE speeds and carrier aggregation support.
The good news here is that chips such as Snapdragon 650 and 652 should bring to mid-range devices some features and performance that equal or surpass even this year’s high-end chips. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 controversy from this year must have made the company want to do much better next year, and so far it shows, at least on paper.
It still remains to be seen how these chips will actually perform in devices. Qualcomm should certainly be much more careful about prioritizing performance over power consumption and thermal management this time, unless it wants to risk another controversy and loss of sales next year.
Lucian Armasu joined Tom’s Hardware in early 2014. He writes news stories on mobile, chipsets, security, privacy, and anything else that might be of interest to him from the technology world. Outside of Tom’s Hardware, he dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.