Qualcomm very recently revealed the details of its new Snapdragon 845 mobile processor, which will show up in smartphones and laptops starting early next year. The Snapdragon 845 is the direct successor to 2017’s 835, which proved to be wildly popular for flagship Android smartphones. Like its predecessors, the 845 is not just a processor, but an alphabet soup of processors and systems, such as a CPU, GPU, ISP, and DSP, all contained on a single unit. In addition, the platform utilizes Qualcomm’s latest gigabit LTE and Wi-Fi modems for connectivity.
The 845 also includes a new secure processing unit (SPU) that can handle encryption, payments, and biometric authentication in an isolated subsystem away from all your potentially nasty application code.
The big new feature for this year is the ability to capture 4K video in HDR at up to 60 frames per second. The 845 can also shoot slo-mo 720p video at 480 frames per second and 240 frames per second 1080p video. For still photography, the 845’s Spectra 280 ISP can perform multi-frame noise reduction on 16-megapixel images at 60 frames per second. It also supports a wider color gamut and 10-bit color depth for 64 times as many color shades as before.
The GPU is now the Adreno 630, and Qualcomm is promising “30-percent faster graphics” and “30-percent better power efficiency.” The company says a 2.5×-faster display throughput will allow for a 2K×2K display at 120Hz. Qualcomm is really pushing AR and VR with the Snapdragon 845, promising out-of-the-box support for eye tracking, hand tracking, foveated rendering (adding more detail to the part of the screen you’re looking at), multiview rendering (great for rendering the left and right eyes in VR goggles), and HTC Vive-style six degree of freedom (6DoF) tracking for headsets and controllers. In fact, the Adreno 630 GPU isn’t even called a “GPU” anymore—now it’s a “Visual Processing Subsystem.” It’s not that any of this was impossible before, but now Qualcomm is officially supporting all of these VR/AR use cases out of the box.
The chip will likely be found in other, non-Android devices, as well, including Windows 10 PCs, among others. And given the company’s embrace of VR headsets with the 835, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the 845 popping up in some of those, as well.