On the second day of Qualcomm's annual Snapdragon Tech Summit happening this week in Maui, the specifications of the next flagship 5G mobile platform was disclosed to the media and analyst community. While the second generation X55 5G modem has been a known entity for some time now, it was ultimately an incomplete discrete solution or thin modem chip. In combination with Qualcomm’s modular 5G RF Front End (RFFE), the chipset remains unfinished without a mobile processor. The new Snapdragon 865 represents that missing piece of the second-generation 5G design puzzle for 5G smartphone designs in 2020. Demonstrating a stroke of ordinal logic, Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon 865 AP (application processor). This new piece of silicon succeeds the flagship Snapdragon 855 which powered most of the first-generation of 5G phones this year (similarly Snapdragon 855 succeeded the Snapdragon 845 the year before that). However, the difference here is that the Snapdragon 865 is considered a chipset [as `oppose to an integrated SoC] which required additional components such as the X55 modem and RFFE.
In typical high-tech product presentation fashion, Qualcomm delivered a near-3 hour-long “shock and awe” introduction detailing all the capabilities of the new mobile chipset platform. Qualcomm began with a historical review of the three years of development required to bring the chip to market and end with a strong emphasis on mobile gaming with several partner demos sprinkled in between which highlighted capabilities like artificial intelligence (AI), mobile security and computational photography.
The Snapdragon 865 will be the first mobile processor built on Samsung's 7nm EUV (extreme UV) fabrication process. The chip will be paired exclusively with the X55 second-generation 5G modem which, in turn, connects to modular 5G RFFE (both mmWave and Sub 6GHz) to enable the next evolution of 5G devices. Qualcomm's ability to provide the entire modem-to-antenna design speaks to their engineering resources and industry leadership.
According to Qualcomm's press material, the new chipset will have the following specifications:
Snapdragon 865 Apps Processor
• Kryo 585, Octa-core CPU
• Up to 2.84 GHz
• 64-bit Architecture
• Adreno 650 GPU
• Hexagon 698 Processor
• Qualcomm Sensing Hub
Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System
• 5G mmWave and sub-6 GHz, standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) modes, FDD, TDD
• Dynamic Spectrum Sharing
• mmWave: 800 MHz bandwidth, 8 carriers, 2x2 MIMO
• Sub-6 GHz: 200 MHz bandwidth, 4x4 MIMO
• Qualcomm® 5G PowerSave
• Qualcomm® Smart Transmit™ technology
• Qualcomm® Wideband Envelope Tracking
• Qualcomm® Signal Boost adaptive antenna tuning
• Global 5G multi-SIM
• Downlink: Up to 7.5 Gbps
• Uplink: Up to 3 Gbps
• Multimode support: 5G NR, LTE including CBRS, WCDMA, HSPA, TD-SCDMA, CDMA 1x, EV-DO, GSM/EDGE
By any measure, the Snapdragon chipset in total represents a class-leading 5G design based on the specifications alone. While Mediatek made news last month with their integrated 5G SoC Dimensity 1000 (which benchmarked favorably against the two year old Qualcomm X50), the better comparative would be something like the Exynos 5123 (Samsung) or the Kirin 990 5G [found in the latest Huawei Mate 20 Pro 5G] both of which are also considered as a second generation 5G designs. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 was designed to eclipse every other competitive 5G chipset on the market today. Smartphone OEMs will now be empowered to develop advanced mobile devices knowing that the Snapdragon 865 will future-proof them against rapid obsolesce (at least for a couple of years).