Despite a lukewarm performance for most of 2015, Qualcomm has largely had a successful 2016 thus far thanks to its Snapdragon 820/821. While the 820/821 struggled against some of its competitors in benchmarks, the current crop of Snapdragon SoCs has largely satisfied the needs of end users.
Devices such as the OnePlus 3 have garnered highly favorable reviews among the XDA team, to say nothing of the immense popularity of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL on the Android community at large. But Qualcomm isn’t interested in releasing merely “satisfactory” products, and as such the company has officially announced the successor to the Snapdragon 820 and 821 – the long awaited Snapdragon 835. Although many rumors claimed otherwise, Qualcomm appears to skipping over the Snapdragon 830 name, at least for now.
While not much is yet known about the Snapdragon 835, Qualcomm did at least reveal they would be continuing their partnership with Samsung. The Snapdragon 835 will be built using GlobalFoundries/Samsung’s process technology and fabrication plants, and will be Qualcomm’s first chip based on Samsung’s new 10 nanometer FinFET process. Samsung is quite proud to be the first manufacturer to offer mass production of 10 nm chips, however, TSMC is close on their heels with their own 10 nm process which will be found in the upcoming MediaTek Helio X30. There are also some questions about the validity of measuring process technology by nominal feature size (with Gate Pitch x Metal Pitch being held up as a preferable measurement by Intel, a measure wherein Intel 14 nm ranks fairly closely with TSMC and Samsung/GloFo 10 nm), but that is a topic for another time.
Samsung’s 10 nanometer FinFET process is expected to bring a 30% increase in area efficiency and a choice of 27% higher performance at the same power usage or 40% lower power consumption at the same performance level (or somewhere in-between). That 30% increase in area efficiency is a major focus for Qualcomm at the moment, as it will leave OEMs with more room inside their devices to incorporate other parts, such as a larger battery. Qualcomm especially hopes to see manufacturers take advantage of the increased area efficiency by incorporating a larger battery. The company is stressing all across its announcements that they hope to eliminate range anxiety. Qualcomm wants you to charge more quickly with Quick Charge 4.0, consume less power with newer and more efficient chipsets, and create room for larger batteries inside of phones with smaller processors and other components.
In addition to the unveiling of the Snapdragon 835’s manufacturing process, it was also previously announced that the Snapdragon 835 will be carrying Qualcomm’s new X16 LTE Modem, which is capable of Gigabit download speeds.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is already in production, and should begin shipping in flagship phones during the first half of 2017, just in time for the much anticipated flagship refreshes (and just as rumors are starting to appear for the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, HTC 11, and various other devices).
Do you think Qualcomm can leverage Samsung’s 10nm process to regain the top spot in CPU performance? Will OEMs follow through with Qualcomm’s goals of better battery life, or will they just use the power savings to shrink devices even further? Let us know in the comments below!