During its Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Qualcomm has announced three new application processors for the mobile markets. The Snapdragon 653, Snapdragon 626 and Snapdragon 427 add a new performance and feature(s) option for OEMs and ODMs, and one that is extremely easy to integrate into existing designs.
All three chips are pin-compatible with their predecessors (652, 625 and 426), which means that they can be dropped into an existing hardware design. Of course, their software is also binary-compatible so that minimum software update is necessary, although some of the new or updated features will need some engineering work.
In semiconductor terms, the 653 and 626 chips are “performance kickers,” where the optimum clock paths* have been optimized for the last generation. This brings about a 10% improvement in both CPU and GPU performance, which is always appreciable. *clock path: sometimes the maximum frequency of a chip can be limited due to a single path that throws things out of sync. By fixing this path, the chip can run at its maximum design frequency, or at a higher frequency.
Qualcomm made it clear that previous chips will remain on the market, and that the new system on chips (SOCs) will come “in addition” to previously available parts.
Dual Camera Support
Performance aside, all three chips will support dual-cameras, a feature that was previously available on the Snapdragon 800 Series. This is a sure sign that there is a demand for dual-camera support in the mid-range segment of the market. Several implementations have been successful enough to gain traction, and we suspect that companies like LG are eager to push their dual-lens solutions to more models.
X9 LTE CAT7 Modem
The X9 LTE modem replaces the X8 LTE Modem previously available. The X9 modem has higher maximum throughout and is smarter at aggregating bands when available. There is an architectural advantage that could yield a 50% performance improvement from X8 going to X9.
Snapdragon 653 will be able to address up to 8GB of RAM. This is a feature that is getting hotter in specific Asian markets, where customers have identified the low amount of RAM from past mid-range phones as one of the sources of lag, especially in multi-tasking situations.
Snapdragon 626 and 427 are getting Qualcomm TrueSignal, which is a feature designed to improve signal reception.
The new Snapdragon chips bring expected incremental improvements. Some of the new features is just the natural result of the classic technology trickle down from the high-end chips like Snapdragon 820 and Snapdragon 821.
Carriers are usually the ones demanding modem upgrades, not only because it’s better for their subscribers, but more importantly because new modems tend to make better use of the existing bands and infrastructure as well.
Finally, some features such as the extended RAM addressing space has been asked for by handset makers. All in all, this is a good addition to the Snapdragon 400 and Snapdragon 600 family of products, which is used in a very large number of handsets worldwide.