Qualcomm has officially announced its new Snapdragon 845 chip with on-device AI and secure processing unit (SPU) much like boasting Apple’s new A11 Bionic SoC.
At its second annual tech summit, Qualcomm unveiled the new chipset, Snapdragon 845 – the latest “premium” mobile CPU. The chipset retains the same 10nm footprint as its predecessor but features a revamped architecture that brings about new features like 4K HDR video capture on smartphones and improved AI processing.
When speaking of Apple’s iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, all make use of a new CPU that is tied with machine learning and artificial intelligence that it gained the “Bionic” tag for its name. But Apple is not alone in having an eye for creating such chips.
Qualcomm also has in touch with such Bionic chips. Apple claims that by being able to do things like facial recognition on-device, rather than ship processing off to the cloud like Google does with Google Photos, it is able to provide its users the levels of privacy the aforementioned search giant simply cannot.
It seems like Qualcomm is now trying to tow, with the newly announced Snapdragon 845. It is aimed at keeping users privacy intact. Traditionally, how Google Photos have worked is to send data off to the cloud drive to have it worked on by servers in data centers. This situation allows devices to carry out facial and voice recognition tasks that would not have been possible normally. Nevertheless, it allows companies like Google to collate data in the aggregate, making it possible for services to improve.
Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 aims to do the same, as what Apple tact by keeping everything on its devices, preserving privacy. With the company pointing out that being able to process data on a device is quicker than having it sent to the cloud. Latency, as a result, will be improved.
Now that it looks like Qualcomm is focusing on AI, Immersion, security, connectivity, and performance with the new chipset. This basically means the ability to capture and render the world around you at high resolutions and quality for more realistic results. It’ll enable 4K HDR video capture, faster neural processing, and, of course, improve performance.
The Snapdragon 845 will feature an Adreno 630 graphics processor and Qualcomm’s Spectra 280 image signal processor (ISP) which has already been previewed earlier this year. The company’s graphics lead, Tim Leland, explained that “the ISP allows for “Ultra HD premium” video capture at 60 frames per second. Qualcomm believes the Snapdragon 845 will be so good at photography that the phones powered by this chip will score above 100 on DxOMark, but that depends on how each device maker implements the new features.”
Video and Image Processing Feature
With Ultra HD color capture, cameras can collect more accurate color volume than before. A shift from the resolution race that’s been the focus of mobile photography in the past few years. While the Spectra ISP collects more color data by combining three methods; moving from 8-bit to 10-bit color, expanding its color gamut from Rec 709 to Rec 2020, and increasing luminance (the brightness of an object), according to Leland.
The chip basically can process more shades of the same color for more depth, more colors and increased levels of brightness up to 10,000 nits for the same hue. That allows for more nuance in image quality.
The Spectra ISP alow brings about improvements to low light footage thanks to the new software that enables multi-frame noise reduction by using 60 16-megapixel images per second. Snapdragon 845 will also provide “motion compensated temporal filtering” as an image stabilization method, which compares a frame in a video to the frames before and after it to figure out where an object outline should be.
With that said, also speaks about the Snapdragon 845 that will enable devices to achieve world-scale-esque tracking (with 6-DoF and SLAM). The same is found on what HTC’s Vive headset can do.
Artificial Intelligence improvements
On Snapdragon 845, is said is actually its third-generation mobile AI platform, brings about improvements for AI processing, the focus is on core optimizations, meaning the processor will assign tasks to different cores to execute based on the type of power needed.
Developers will be able to choose which cores to use – whether it’s the Hexagon 686 digital signal processor (DSP), the GPU or the Kyro CPU. Qualcomm says the SD-845 executes AI tasks three times faster than its predecessor.
Snapdragon 845 will support a variety of popular AI frameworks like Google’s TensorFlow, Facebook’s Caffe 2, as well as the newer Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX). The chip will also enable AI features in photography like video style transfer, artificial bokeh effect with single cameras as well as face recognition and unlock. Digital assistants will apparently get a boost, too.
Connectivity and Security
The Snapdragon 835 enabled gigabit LTE, the new 845 chip will feature the company’s second-gen gigabit LTE modem, called the X20. It will improve peak and real-world speeds over the SD835’s X16 modem by 20%. One of the biggest changes is support for five carrier aggregation, an increase from four-carrier before. And also as open up access to unlicensed spectrums. With these updates, Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 845 can achieve so-called wireless fiber speeds that enable downloads of two-hours videos in two minutes or less.
The first devices to pack Snapdragon 845 will arrive in early 2018. Hackers have gotten so good at exploiting existing security architecture that Qualcomm added a “Secure Processing Unit” to the Snapdragon 845. The SPU has its own processor, random number generator, memory and power island to defend against attacks. “It is its own secure island,” Qualcomm’s security lead Sy Choudhury explained. This vault provides a third level of security on top of the two existing layers and is designed to protect biometric information.
Part of the Snapdragon 845system-on-chip, the secure processing unit offers “vault-like security for premium flagship mobile devices.” I mean biometric security like fingerprints and faceID data will be safer than ever before. Equally important is Qualcomm’s version of Apple’s Secure Enclave.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 is here, with Samsung’s Galaxy S9 expected to ship with the chip beating away at its heart? Stay tuned for more.
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