The Snapdragon 855 Efficiency Preview: Setting the Stage for Flagship Android 2019

As we method the releases of assorted gadgets from the most recent Android producers, Qualcomm continues its custom of presenting the efficiency of its newest SoC generator prematurely, giving us a style of what to anticipate within the coming enterprise Gear. This 12 months, the corporate postponed the schedule a bit and held the occasion in its San Diego headquarters as a substitute of the occasion, and we had been in a position to strive the Snapdragon 855 at CES earlier than the present began. At this time, we're exploring intimately how precisely the brand new Snapdragon chipset will carry out and shedding some mild on some unanswered technical questions on some features of the SoC.

It's been simply over a month since Qualcomm formally introduced the Snapdragon 855 in Hawaii, and we've printed detailed accounts of the occasion and the assorted bulletins:

Full protection

First Day

Second Day

Third Day

For anybody who might need missed it, if there’s a particular article that I might advocate earlier than going on to the outcomes of the benchmarking session, then is our full article, which publishes the printed specs of the brand new Snapdragon 855 .

SoC Overview and CPU Abstract

Qualcomm Snapdragon flagship SoCs 2018-2019


Snapdragon 855

Snapdragon 845

central processor
1x Cryo 485 Gold ( A76 Spinoff)

@ 2.84GHz 1x512KB pL2

three x Cryo 485 Gold ( A76 Spinoff)
@ 2.42 GHz three x 256 kb pL2

4x Cryo 485 Silver (A55 Spinoff)
@ 1.80 GHz 4x128KB pL2

2MB sL3

4x Cryo 385 Gold ( A75 Spinoff)
@ 2.eight GHz 4x256KB pL2

4x Cryo 385 Silver (A55 Spinoff)
@ 1.80GHz 4x128KB pL2

2MB sL3

Adreno 640 at? MHz
Adreno 630 at 710 MHz

4x 16-bit channel at 2133 MHz


34.1 GB / s

three MB System-level cache

4x 16-bit channel at 1866 MHz
29.9 GB / s

three MB System-level cache

ISP / digicam
Twin 14-bit Spectra 380 ISP
1x 48MP or 2x 22MP
Twin 14-bit Spectra 280 ISP
1x 32MP or 2x 16MP

Coding /
2160p60 10-bit H.265
HDR10, HDR10 +, HLG
2160p60 10-bit H.265

Built-in modem
Snapdragon X24 LTE
(Class 20)

DL = 2000 Mbps
7 x 20 MHz CA, 256-QAM, 4×4

UL = 316 Mbps
three x 20 MHz CA, 256-QAM

Snapdragon X20 LTE
(Class 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5 x 20 MHz CA, 256-QAM, 4×4

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Mfc. To course of
7nm (N7)
10 nm LPP

To shortly summarize the Snapdragon 855, we discovered 4 new Kryo 485 CPUs primarily based on the brand new Cortex A76 cores from Arm on the coronary heart of the brand new 7nm chipset. The brand new CPU cores are derivatives of the designs that Arm offers by default: Right here, Qualcomm makes use of the " Constructed on Arm Cortex Know-how " license, which permits suppliers to switch the IP primarily based on a lot of microarchitectures Request tuneables, which offers arm. Though the Snapdragon 855's Cryo 485 is the third era of such a derived core from Qualcomm, it’s the first occasion of the corporate that truly discusses what microarchitectural adjustments have been made to the CPUs. The Kryo 485 Cortex A76 derivatives improve the reorder buffers of 128 arm default entries to a better, unspecified worth. Qualcomm has additionally proven that the prefetchers have been optimized for higher effectivity, though we have no idea precisely how this was achieved. In my understanding, the trade knowledge buildings have additionally improved over the usual A76 configuration.

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Though the SoC remains to be in a "four + four" big-core configuration, the large cores within the S855 should not all the identical: right here, Qualcomm has opted for an unique 1 + three + four configuration, the place one of many massive cores with a bodily design with a better frequency of 2857 MHz is applied, all utilizing a bigger L2 cache of 512 KB. The remaining three massive cores are at 2439 MHz most and are solely geared up with 256 KB L2 caches. Qualcomm clocks this 1 + three configuration otherwise with asynchronous clock ranges, however the cores share the identical voltage stage. Right here, the corporate explains that it is a compromise between the advantages of power effectivity and the price of implementation complexity in addition to help for energy provide parts (including a further voltage stage provides one other PMIC rail with inductors and capacitors.)

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The Cryo 485 within the S855 guarantees to be Qualcomm's greatest efficiency leap, with a 45% leap in efficiency in comparison with the Snapdragon 845. As we mentioned in our introductory article, this quantity appears to coincide with the leap in efficiency – the Kirin 980 has weathered the Snapdragon 845, which is smart given the 2 new SoCs use the most recent era A76 CPU in comparable watches.

The Snapdragon 855 QRD

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At this time's take a look at platform is the brand new Snapdragon 855 QRD from Qualcomm (Qualcomm Reference Design). This 12 months's QRD design might be Qualcomm's most "industrial machine" as a result of the sturdy bezels are completely different than the extra sturdy bezels. One can hardly say that it is a reference platform – not less than on the facet. The corporate stated that the QRD being examined needs to be an approximate illustration of what’s anticipated of business gadgets, however suppliers could in fact deviate from it as a result of they might change the underlying software program.

We had a restricted quantity of sensible time with the gadgets, and though we did rather a lot with them, a few of the extra time-consuming assessments, equivalent to long-lasting GPU testing, had been exterior of immediately's session

The Large Query concerning the Snapdragon 855: Reminiscence Latency

One of many stranger developments that Qualcomm launched final 12 months with the Snapdragon 845 was the addition of a brand new system-level 3MB cache, which is positioned in entrance of the storage controllers as a brand new cache hierarchy. This new block will function a SoC-wide buffer for the assorted IP blocks, decreasing the variety of costly DRAM reminiscence accesses and thus bettering the system's power effectivity. Along with bettering power effectivity, it might theoretically additionally function a booster for efficiency. The preferred use of such a system cache is Apple's personal A-Collection chips, which have been utilizing this sort of IP block because the A7.

The introduction of such an IP block by the Qualcomm within the Snapdragon 845 was thrilling to see. Nonetheless, this was a double-edged sword because the DRAM reminiscence latency launched a 30% regression (in comparison with the Snapdragon 835). which can have restricted a few of the efficiency features of the A75-based CPU final 12 months.

The brand new Snapdragon 855 doesn’t seem to have made any important enhancements on this regard, as Qualcomm confirmed that the IP block is identical as that of the Snapdragon 845.

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To analyze the variations between the Snapdragon 845, 855 and the Kirin 980, we use a latency take a look at. First let's take a look at the storage hierarchy in a logarithmic latency graph to higher illustrate the completely different latency jumps between hierarchies:

Between the Snapdragon 845 and the brand new 855, we now see the elevated L2 cache of the Kryo 485 Prime core at 512 KB, a rise over the 256 KB measurement of the earlier era's efficiency core. It is usually obvious that the L2 latency has improved, though each chipsets are clocked shut to one another at ~ 2.eight GHz.

The DSU-L3 cache of the Snapdragon 845 and the 855 is similar to 2 MB: What’s fascinating right here is that the latency on this a part of the cache hierarchy appears to be the identical between the 2 SoCs. That is in distinction to the 4MB L3 of the Kirin 980, which, although bigger, appears to be 20% slower.

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Turning to the linear graph, we are able to extra clearly see the distinction in DRAM latency. The Snapdragon 855 seems to be barely bettering reminiscence latency over the 845, however this might solely be because of the newer 2133MHz LPDDR4X reminiscence, which is 14% quicker than final 12 months's 1866MHz reminiscence.

Nonetheless, the comparability with the Kirin 980, which makes use of the identical CPU microarchitecture and the identical 2133 MHz reminiscence because the Snapdragon 855, is essential. Right here, Qualcomm nonetheless exhibits a exceptional latency regression in comparison with the competitors, the consequences of which might be fascinating to research on the next pages.

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