After Apple surprised every mobile processor brand by releasing a 64-bit A7 chipset with the iPhone 5S, its competitors were forced to release new chipsets with support for 64-bit computing. An year after Apple’s announcement, Qualcomm unveiled a complete line-up of 64-bit processors. This line-up included the Snapdragon 410, the Snapdragon 610, the Snapdragon 615, the Snapdragon 808, and the Snapdragon 810.
But it seems that all is not well with some of these chipsets, especially the Snapdragon 810, which features an octa-core 64-bit CPU. According to several reports, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 is facing overheating issues as well as some problems with its memory controller. For the first time in years, Qualcomm is using stock ARM Cortex CPU cores in its chipsets instead of home-tweaked Krait CPU cores, which were in use till the Snapdragon 805 SoC. These CPU cores are supposed to be clocked at 2GHz, but due to overheating issues, smartphone OEMs have clocked the chipset at just 1.2/1.4GHz.
Apparently, Samsung has decided against using the Snapdragon 810 in its next-generation flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S6, which is to be unveiled in March 2015. Samsung will use its homegrown 64-bit octa-core Exynos 7420 chipset in the Galaxy S6. There has been a report, which says that Qualcomm will provide a revised Snapdragon 810 chipset, but we have issues trusting the report.
On the contrary, smartphone brands like LG and Xiaomi, who have already announced smartphones equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, have announced that there are no such issues with the chipset. Even Qualcomm has official stated that they have ironed out all the issues from the Snapdragon 810. But should we consumers believe them blindly?
According to a new leak, Qualcomm is already working on six new chipsets; the Snapdragon 616, the Snapdragon 620, the Snapdragon 625, the Snapdragon 629, the Snapdragon 815, and the Snapdragon 820. Most of these chipsets will feature Qualcomm’s custom CPU core, which is codenamed as ‘Taipan’.
The Snapdragon 616 will feature an octa-core Cortex A53 CPU, which can be clocked as high as 2.2GHz, along with Adreno 408 GPU, and LTE-A Cat. 6 connectivity. The Snapdragon 620, which is a successor to the Snapdragon 610, features a quad-core Taipan CPU, Adreno 418 GPU, support for LP-DDR3 RAM, and LTE-A Cat. 10 connectivity. The Snapdragon 625 and the Snapdragon 620 will feature octa-core CPU cores, Adreno 418 GPU, LTE-A Cat. 10 connectivity, and a power-efficient 20nm fabrication technology.
The high-end Snapdragon 815 will feature a an octa-core CPU in a big.LITTLE configuration. It will feature a quad-core TS1i CPU, a quad-core TS1 CPU, Adreno 450 GPU, support for LP-DDR4 RAM, LTE-A Cat. 10 connectivity, and 20nm build. The most high-end SoC in the leaked slide, the Snapdragon 820, will feature a 64-bit octa-core TS2 CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, and support for LP-DDR4 RAM modules. This chipset will be manufactured by Samsung and Global Foundries using a 14nm FinFet process.
We will have to see how smartphone brands other than Samsung will use the Snapdragon 810. If the said chipset really has a problem, the other options that smartphone brands can look at are Nvidia’s Tegra K1 chipset with Denver CPU cores, MediaTek MT6795 SoC, and Intel’s new line-up of Atom SoCs. However, all of them are crippled in some way or the other. The Nvidia Tegra K1 lacks high-speed 4G LTE connectivity, and has only a dual-core CPU, which might not be good for the brands in marketing their products. The MediaTek chipset features every required feature, but chips from MediaTek aren’t known for their power efficiency. All the chipsets from Intel have 64-bit CPU cores and fairly powerful GPU modules, but unlike the Snapdragon chipsets, they lack integrated 4G LTE connectivity.