Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 – The powerhouse smartphone chip

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile platform is set to power the next generation of flagship phones, the company has revealed.

Qualcomm considered several factors when it started designing the chip, including cinematic quality video and image capture, extended reality, and machine learning.

These functions are handled by the various components in the Snapdragon 845 system:

  • Snapdragon X20 LTE modem
  • Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem
  • Spectra 280 image signal processor
  • Kryo 385 CPU
  • Hexagon 685 DSP
  • Aqstic Audio
  • Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit

Qualcomm’s Kryo 385 CPU will be fabricated using Samsung’s 10 nanometre FINFET process, and will feature eight ARM-based cores (4×Cortex-A75 + 4×Cortex-A55).

Its four performance cores run at up to 2.8GHz, and the four low-power cores can run at up to 1.8GHz. Each core has its own L2 cache, while the chipset has a shared 2MB L3 cache.

Performance across the faster cores is 25% higher than the previous generation, while the efficiency cores see a 15% improvement.

The system is controlled using DyanmIQ technology, and has three clock and voltage domains.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 block diagram

Graphics processors

The system uses a Spectra 280 image signal processor along with an Adreno 630 graphics processor for visuals.

This provides a 30% faster graphics performance, with 2.5-times faster display throughput.

Qualcomm said it aims to remain at the top of DXOMark’s Mobile camera rankings with its image processor, and hopes to break the 100 score barrier for the first time.

The new processor also includes colour volume improvements – going from an 8-bit colour depth to 10-bit colour depth, adding 64 shades of colour – and supports the the Rec. 2020 colour gamut and greater luminance.

480 frames per second HDR10 recording in 720p resolution is supported by the system, along with advanced depth sensing and computer vision features to perform quality enhancement and effects – such as bokeh on-the-fly.

Another area Qualcomm focussed on is extended reality – augmented, virtual, and mixed-reality – applications, with the Snapdragon 845 supporting six-degrees-of-freedom roomscale extended reality. 2K×2K resolution at 120 frames per second is also supported for headsets.

Colour gamut Rec2020HDR vs Rec709SDR

AI and security

Qualcomm’s machine learning processor is a Hexagon-series digital signal processor which tackles the vector mathematics needed for deep artificial neural network applications.

The Hexagon 685 is the 3rd-generation Qualcomm processor of its kind. It comes with the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine, and offers 3-times the performance of the Snapdragon 835.

Qualcomm has also added support for Google TensorFlow Lite, Caffe, Caffe2, and Microsoft and Facebook’s Open Neural Network Exchange.

The Snapdragon 845 will also include a dedicated “security vault” in the form of the Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit.

It has its own processing core with random number generator and memory, and acts as a “secure island”.

This performs key management tasks for the device – including handling passwords, user data, and application data.

From Android 8 and Windows 10, each file may be encrypted with a unique key and the Secure Processing Unit can generate these keys.


The Snapdragon 845 comes with the Qualcomm X20 gigabit LTE modem.

It offers gigabit LTE support, multi-gigabit Qualcomm Wi-Fi radio, and Qualcomm TrueWireless to broadcast HD audio to multiple devices.

Wi-Fi performance has also been improved, said Qualcomm.

These improvements have been paired with better power efficiency to ensure devices can achieve longer battery lives.

It offers three hours of continuous VR gameplay, up to four hours of UHD video capture, and two days of ultra HD voice calling.

The chip design also offers a power performance improvement in the 2MB of system-wide L3 cache – which can reduce power consumption by over 20%.

The Snapdragon 845 then offers Quick Charge for when the battery runs low, which lets you charge from 0% to 50% in 15 minutes.

Smartphones, extended reality headsets, and Always Connected PCs with the Snapdragon 845 will start shipping in early 2018.

Now read: Xiaomi’s next flagship smartphone will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845

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Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 – The powerhouse smartphone chip