The first phones running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, like the HTC One M9 announced yesterday, may only just be arriving, but the chip firm couldn’t help but tease its next-gen silicon. The Snapdragon 820 isn’t expected to begin sampling until the second half of 2015, but Qualcomm decided that there was no better place than Mobile World Congress to slip out a few early details about what might be powering your smartphone upgrade in 2016.
So, we now know that the Snapdragon 820 will use a new, custom-designed Qualcomm Kryo core. A 64-bit CPU, the chip will be built on a FinFET process node.
FinFET, if you’ve not been keeping up with your processor manufacturing jargon, keeps chips small by effectively stacking them in 3D configurations. ARM has already committed to using it with its new Mali and Cortex cores.
It’s a tough time to be a player in the mobile chipset world, however. While Qualcomm was once to be found powering the handsets and tablets from most of the big names in the industry, in recent years there’s been a gradual shift toward homegrown silicon.
Apple, for instance, makes its own Apple Ax processors, while Samsung opted to switch entirely to its self-developed chips in the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge announced yesterday. Previously, the South Korean firm used Snapdragon chipsets in at least some versions of its flagship phones.
The new Exynos 7 Octa actually uses 14nm FinFET technologies itself.
Meanwhile, Qualcomm also discussed new convenience features which will be supported by Snapdragon 820, like its ultrasonic biometric scanning which will be able to read a fingerprint through a smartphone display, metal or plastic casing, or sapphire glass.