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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  • Gondalf - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    As usual you are wrong. You have not a single serious bench proving your claims.
    In fact Avoton is faster and cooler of the new Amd 8 core server puppy based on A57.
    You can not judge a cpu with a shitty syntetic bench like GeekIdiocy......the name says all the story.
  • Wilco1 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    You're just deluding yourself. None of the Atoms have been successful in any way, Intel is losing billions of dollars a year trying to push them. We've seen it several times before with Intel talking up their benchmark scores only to show mediocre results when a tiny fraction of the promised design wins finally enter the market. What exactly makes you think it's different this time round?
  • Speedfriend - Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - link

    "No, however we know A57 is ~50% faster than A15" - have you got a link for this? Certainly in browsing performance ARM is talking about almost 50% improvement, but another slide I saw shows an overall score suggesting more like 20%. But anyway, I meeting with ARM management in a few weeks time, so I'll ask them.

    The other thing you are forgetting is that Intel may not be using Atom to compete at the upper end of the tablet market, but Broadwell if they manage to get the level of efficiency improvement that they are talking about. When you have good quality fanless tablets or convertibles running Windows, the purchase decision for corporates will change significantly. as much as I love my iPad Air, it is basically a toy for me. I would dream of actually trying to do work on it
  • Wilco1 - Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - link

    ARM should be able to show you benchmark results, including comparisons between Silvermont and A57.

    We're certainly at a performance level where you can use your tablet for real work. I'm using an A15-based Chromebook for benchmarking, open source development and serious build jobs. Obviously it doesn't beat a x86 desktop today, but I bet a lot of developers working on projects targeting ARM will start to use ARM-based computers when much faster 64-bit ARMs are out.
  • Krysto - Saturday, April 19, 2014 - link

    Silvermont is a full node and a half ahead of ARM in process technology, and it still barely competes. Not to mention Atom chips still aren't competitive at all on price, and Intel has to lose billions every year subsidizing them to make them look half-attractive to OEMs (which would be fools to fall for Intel's tricks, because as soon as Intel becomes stronger in the market - if ever - they are going to raise prices on them immediately).
  • extide - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Since when do we know that A57 will already be faster than phone-baytrail ?
  • Wilco1 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Since last year we know the fastest Baytrail has about the same performance as Tegra 4. The phone version will be dual core initially and run at a lower frequency. Tell me, are you betting it will beat any of last years high-end phones?
  • dylan522p - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Which is fine as Airmont will be out this year.
  • Gondalf - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Faster of Silvermont?? you do not know this. Without power constrains Silvermont is clearly faster than A57 in server SOCs. Unfortunately you are an entusiast and you have forgotten the thermals in your equation. A phone/tablet SOC can not draw power over a certain limit, even if A57 is faster than Silvermont (and it is not), it will throttle down all the time, like are doing all the A15 based mobile devices around.
    Intel has the best 64bit core in this moment and it will gain a lot of market share expecially in tablets.....not having integrated LTE. Moreover there is a new a faster core on track for H1 2015, it is named Goldmont, likely a little wider than Airmont.
    One thing is certain, Qualcomm has lost the lead over all competitors
  • Wilco1 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    We already know A15 outperforms Silvermont by a good margin. A57 outperforms A15 by a good margin. So your conclusion is that Silvermont is clearly faster than A57? Wow, hear the expert talking. And if it isn't faster then we should just wait for the next one? Only in fan-boi world.

    I agree Intel has one of the best 64-bit cores, but unfortunately for Intel Haswell is both to big and inefficient to be used in phones.

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