Today Qualcomm is rounding out its 64-bit family with the Snapdragon 808 and 810. Like the previous 64-bit announcements (Snapdragon 410, 610 and 615), the 808 and 810 leverage ARM's own CPU IP in lieu of a Qualcomm designed microarchitecture. We'll finally hear about Qualcomm's own custom 64-bit architecture later this year, but it's clear that all 64-bit Snapdragon SoCs shipping in 2014 (and early 2015) will use ARM CPU IP.

While the 410, 610 and 615 all use ARM Cortex A53 cores (simply varying the number of cores and operating frequency), the 808 and 810 move to a big.LITTLE design with a combination of Cortex A53s and Cortex A57s. The latter is an evolution of the Cortex A15, offering anywhere from a 25 - 55% increase in IPC over the A15. The substantial increase in performance comes at around a 20% increase in power consumption at 28nm. Thankfully both the Snapdragon 808 and 810 will be built at 20nm, which should help offset some of the power increase.

Qualcomm's 64-bit Lineup
  Snapdragon 810 Snapdragon 808 Snapdragon 615 Snapdragon 610 Snapdragon 410
Internal Model Number MSM8994 MSM8992 MSM8939 MSM8936 MSM8916
Manufacturing Process 20nm 20nm 28nm LP 28nm LP 28nm LP
CPU 4 x ARM Cortex A57 + 4 x ARM Cortex A53 (big.LITTLE) 2 x ARM Cortex A57 + 4 x ARM Cortex A53 (big.LITTLE) 8 x ARM Cortex A53 4 x ARM Cortex A53 4 x ARM Cortex A53
ISA 32/64-bit ARMv8-A 32/64-bit ARMv8-A 32/64-bit ARMv8-A 32/64-bit ARMv8-A 32/64-bit ARMv8-A
GPU Adreno 430 Adreno 418 Adreno 405 Adreno 405 Adreno 306
H.265 Decode Yes Yes Yes Yes No
H.265 Encode Yes No No No No
Memory Interface 2 x 32-bit LPDDR4-1600 2 x 32-bit LPDDR3-933 2 x 32-bit LPDDR3-800 2 x 32-bit LPDDR3-800 2 x 32-bit LPDDR2/3-533
Integrated Modem 9x35 core, LTE Category 6/7, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA 9x35 core, LTE Category 6/7, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA 9x25 core, LTE Category 4, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA 9x25 core, LTE Category 4, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA 9x25 core, LTE Category 4, DC-HSPA+, DS-DA
Integrated WiFi - - Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac 1-stream Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac 1-stream Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac 1-stream
eMMC Interface 5.0 5.0 4.5 4.5 4.5
Camera ISP 14-bit dual-ISP 12-bit dual-ISP ? ? ?
Shipping in Devices 1H 2015 1H 2015 Q4 2014 Q4 2014 Q3 2014

The Snapdragon 808 features four Cortex A53s and two Cortex A57s, while the 810 moves to four of each. In both cases all six/eight cores can be active at once (Global Task Scheduling). The designs are divided into two discrete CPU clusters (one for the A53s and one for the A57s). Within a cluster all of the cores have to operate at the same frequency (a change from previous Snapdragon designs), but each cluster can operate at a different frequency (which makes sense given the different frequency targets for these two core types). Qualcomm isn't talking about cache sizes at this point, but I'm guessing we won't see anything as cool/exotic as a large shared cache between the two clusters. Although these are vanilla ARM designs, Qualcomm will be using its own optimized cells and libraries, which may translate into better power/performance compared to a truly off-the-shelf design.

The CPU is only one piece of the puzzle as the rest of the parts of these SoCs get upgraded as well. The Snapdragon 808 will use an Adreno 418 GPU, while the 810 gets an Adreno 430. I have no idea what either of those actually means in terms of architecture unfortunately (Qualcomm remains the sole tier 1 SoC vendor to refuse to publicly disclose meaningful architectural details about its GPUs). In terms of graphics performance, the Adreno 418 is apparently 20% faster than the Adreno 330, and the Adreno 430 is 30% faster than the Adreno 420 (100% faster in GPGPU performance). Note that the Adreno 420 itself is something like 40% faster than Adreno 330, which would make Adreno 430 over 80% faster than the Adreno 330 we have in Snapdragon 800/801 today.

Also on the video side: both SoCs boast dedicated HEVC/H.265 decode hardware. Only the Snapdragon 810 has a hardware HEVC encoder however. The 810 can support up to two 4Kx2K displays (1 x 60Hz + 1 x 30Hz), while the 808 supports a maximum primary display resolution of 2560 x 1600.

The 808/810 also feature upgraded ISPs, although once again details are limited. The 810 gets an upgraded 14-bit dual-ISP design, while the 808 (and below?) still use a 12-bit ISP. Qualcomm claims up to 1.2GPixels/s of throughput, putting ISP clock at 600MHz and offering a 20% increase in ISP throughput compared to the Snapdragon 805.

The Snapdragon 808 features a 64-bit wide LPDDR3-933 interface (1866MHz data rate, 15GB/s memory bandwidth). The 810 on the other hand features a 64-bit wide LPDDR4-1600 interface (3200MHz data rate, 25.6GB/s memory bandwidth). The difference in memory interface prevents the 808 and 810 from being pin-compatible. Despite the similarities otherwise, the 808 and 810 are two distinct pieces of silicon - the 808 isn't a harvested 810.

Both SoCs have a MDM9x35 derived LTE Category 6/7 modem. The SoCs feature essentially the same modem core as a 9x35 discrete modem, but with one exception: Qualcomm enabled support for 3 carrier aggregation LTE (up from 2). The discrete 9x35 modem implementation can aggregate up to two 20MHz LTE carriers in order to reach Cat 6 LTE's 300Mbps peak download rate. The 808/810, on the other hand, can combine up to three 20MHz LTE carriers (although you'll likely see 3x CA used with narrower channels, e.g. 20MHz + 5MHz + 5MHz or 20MHz + 10MHz + 10MHz).

Enabling 3x LTE CA requires two RF transceiver front ends: Qualcomm's WTR3925 and WTR3905. The WTR3925 is a single chip, 2x CA RF transceiver and you need the WTR3905 to add support for combining another carrier. Category 7 LTE is also supported by the hardware (100Mbps uplink), however due to operator readiness Qualcomm will be promoting the design primarily as category 6.

There's no integrated WiFi in either SoC. Qualcomm expects anyone implementing one of these designs to want to opt for a 2-stream, discrete solution such as the QCA6174.

Qualcomm refers to both designs as "multi-billion transistor" chips. I really hope we'll get to the point of actual disclosure of things like die sizes and transistor counts sooner rather than later (the die shot above is inaccurate).

The Snapdragon 808 is going to arrive as a successor to the 800/801, while the 810 sits above it in the stack (with a cost structure similar to the 805). We'll see some "advanced packaging" used in these designs. Both will be available in a PoP configuration, supporting up to 4GB of RAM in a stack. Based on everything above, it's safe to say that these designs are going to be a substantial upgrade over what Qualcomm offers today.

Unlike the rest of the 64-bit Snapdragon family, the 808 and 810 likely won't show up in devices until the first half of 2015 (410 devices will arrive in Q3 2014, while 610/615 will hit in Q4). The 810 will come first (and show up roughly two quarters after the Snapdragon 805, which will show up two quarters after the recently released 801). The 808 will follow shortly thereafter. This likely means we won't see Qualcomm's own 64-bit CPU microarchitecture show up in products until the second half of next year.

With the Snapdragon 808 and 810, Qualcomm rounds out almost all of its 64-bit lineup. The sole exception is the 200 series, but my guess is the pressure to move to 64-bit isn't quite as high down there.

What's interesting to me is just how quickly Qualcomm has shifted from not having any 64-bit silicon on its roadmap to a nearly complete product stack. Qualcomm appeared to stumble a bit after Apple's unexpected 64-bit Cyclone announcement last fall. Leaked roadmaps pointed to a 32-bit only future in 2014 prior to the introduction of Apple's A7. By the end of 2013 however, Qualcomm had quickly added its first 64-bit ARMv8 based SoC to the roadmap (Snapdragon 410). Now here we are, just over six months since the release of iPhone 5s and Qualcomm's 64-bit product stack seems complete. It'll still be roughly a year before all of these products are shipping, but if this was indeed an unexpected detour I really think the big story is just how quickly Qualcomm can move.

I don't know of any other silicon player that can move and ship this quickly. Whatever efficiencies and discipline Qualcomm has internally, I feel like that's the bigger threat to competing SoC vendors, not the modem IP.

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  • Speedfriend - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    @ Ciccio8 We all know people buy computing on perception of performance and need. Do we need 8 cores, no but many markets demand it. The next step will be 64bit regardless of if it does anything. No-one in a shop knows how Intel's chips measure up against an ARM version, they just hear Intel and 64bit.

    And Intel atom isn't expensive because it is free...
  • extide - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Uh, Atom isnt free ... I mean I love Intel just as much as the next guy but come on, at least be honest!
  • CiccioB - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Intel chips cannot be cheaper than ARM based ones because for the former to compete with the latter a more advanced PP is needed and more advanced PP cost more per mm^2.

    ARM based deevices market is a low margin gain market. Only those that sell a lot of devices at cheap prices survive. I can't see Intel in this market as it can't compete price wise (performance is not a issue here neither for ARm which are "fast enough" not for Intel that is "more than faster enough but less energy efficient").
    Remember that no company that makes ARM devices has an advanced semiconductor fab to upgrade every couple of year. They pay 90 for an ARM chip made by TSMC and sell them for 100, making a net gain of 10. Intel already has a cost higher than 90 as for their more advanced PP and has to accumulate more money than those 10 for a new PP to stay ahead of TSMC.
    On the same PP Intel SoCs have no hope to be competitive in any way, that's why Intel fastly brought Atom from being made by 2 older PP to the newest available one in 3 years forgetting about their Tick-Tock strategy used for other architectures where they are actually monopolist.

    Where Windows application compatibility is not needed, Wintel joint-venture is also not needed.
    Mobile market seems to be the strongest enemy of both companies that, look at their numbers, are quite behind all the other actors on that market and there's not really any reason to suppose that will change (it's easier for MS to take a part of the market being ARM compatible and offering services that can make some difference, but for Intel, what for their SoCs that have not proven to be better that ARM based ones for the last 3 years? And next years TSMC will have 16nm FinFet, probably worse than Intel 14nm FinFet but still good enough to keep ARM SoC ahead of any Intel SoC for few years, the time required to Intel to pass to the new PP after 14nm.. if they will really able to afford that).
  • dylan522p - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Intel offers Atom at prices about equivilant to Qualcomms offerings. Atom is fast as all of Qualcomms offerings and uses less power. They are behind on the GPU (solved by using the supriir Imagination graphics) and behind on modem. 16nm FinFet is 20nm FinFet but the small guys want to lie and pretend like they are even close to Intel.
  • Wilco1 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Intel's 22nm has about the same density of 28nm TSMC. Who is lying now?
  • akdj - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Boy, some things 'never change' eh? :)
    We don't need 'quad/64bit/4GB RAM' phones TODAY...But tomorrow? I've got the 5s (iPhone, personal) and the Note 3 (business) handsets. Three times the RAM in the Note3, perceived performance? About the same. The 7.1 update to the iPhone has helped the A7's performance (or challenges of) significantly and as iOS continues 7.1.x optimization...and delivers their SoC this fall, I think it's quite obvious where they'll go. Higher DPI (larger phone) with more, possibly faster (DDR4 this year?) RAM. Not so much a boost with computational power in the A8 vs graphics. As they've done with the nMP,..moving forward, I think it's obvious where the 'horsepower' should be. Within another half decade (today's phones are faster than laptops in 2008 already!)---our 'phone' may actually just be our main computer. Displays where you need 'em. Plug n Play. The power, storage, memory and graphics all provided by the 'phone/tablet' displayed on your new Dynex $699 4k Best Buy Black Friday special;)
    Point being, we DON'T NEED the power today....but in '07(iPhone) and '08 the Androids....that was just five years ago. Even two year differences in power, display technology and the graphic power of these guys.....just look at the Note 3 review and check it's scores in comparison with the Note 1 (hint, Note 1 is usual at the 'bottom' of each 'score sheet' regardless of bench test). So while today might not be the day you're folding DNA sequencing on your phone (while it's charging at night)---2020 may look VERY Different. ESPECIALLY with Intel on board and the phenomenal competition for SoC powered mobile, faster NAND, SSD & PCIe storage, more efficient and quicker memory, quadruple the pixels (4/8k). I'll never forget how excited I was to get my first 1024/768 color display so many years's technology is mind blowing (I'm 43 & owned an Apple IIe in high school with 5.25" floppies....cell phone wasn't a 'possibility' @ that point;)). My nine year old son has 100, maybe 10,000x that power in his iPod touch or his iPad 2 today. Cool time to be a 'geek' for sure.
  • dylan522p - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Atom uses less power and is cheap as Qualcomms current offerings.
  • CiccioB - Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - link

    It can be cheaper as you want, but that just means Intel is loosing money on them. More advanced PP and bigger die mean more cost. Price is another thing.

    About consuming less than an ARM SoC, please, be serious. You can't really believe that all phone/tablets producers just discard Intel Atom "super power and efficient architecture" if that was true.
    Simply, as proven in the past, power measures on Intel devices are a lie. Intel has always tried to compare its performance/power consumption with ARM SoC much older than those present on the market. See the old first Atom vs Cortex A8 when A9 was already well wide spread, see the subsequent comparison with A9 when A15 was already released, see the fact that now all still to be released Intel Atoms compare to A15 when A57 is round the corner and will surely be released earlier than any new Intel 14nm architecture... consider that Intel 14nm architecturew is going to fight against next year 16nm FinFet, which again, will be worse than Intel 14nm FinFet but good enough to put any ARM SoC buint on that PP ahead of any Intel solution.
    Intel is simply a step behind in this market. The rate at which its products are brutally unrecognized as being good is evident. In the past 4 years Intel has sold as many SoC as Qualcomm has in possibily one months. Maybe less. And that only because Intel is subsiding projects and greatly discounting SoCs.

    You can't really believe Intel can sustain an entire business based on more advanced fab with this selling rate at discounted prices.
  • Wilco1 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Mediatek will have several Cortex-A53 and A57 based designs out by Q3 this year. Samsung is also not sitting idle, and although they haven't announced parts, they have publicly stated to have 64-bit SoCs this year (likely also A53/A57). So it seems likely Samsung and Mediatek will gain marketshare on the high end from QC. I don't see Intel gaining share as the mobile version of Silvermont isn't out yet and we already know A57 will be significantly faster.
  • Speedfriend - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    @ Wilco1 Do you have a link to A57 versus Bay Trail/Silvermont? Samsung and Mediatek 64bit are likely to only be out towards the end of the year or early 2015 from what I have seen.

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