Qualcomm Intros Fastest 64-Bit Snapdragon Mobile Chips

The Snapdragon 808 and 810 processors, which will run Android and Windows Phones OSes, will appear in devices in early 2015, Qualcomm officials said.

Qualcomm officials are unveiling the latest editions to its 64-bit Snapdragon mobile chip, calling the 808 and 810 processors the company's fastest yet.

The 20-nanometer chips, which company officials said will begin appearing in smartphones and other devices in the first half of 2015, will be faster and consume less power than the vendor's current 64-bit chips, and are aimed at premium mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. They will include Qualcomm's fourth-generation Cat 6 LTE-Advanced multimode modem and render 4K video.

The Snapdragon 808 and 810 chips illustrate Qualcomm's efforts in 64-bit mobile computing and set the foundation for future developments, according to Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice president at Qualcomm.

"These product announcements, in combination with the continued development of our next-generation custom 64-bit CPU, will ensure we have a tremendous foundation on which to innovate as we continue to push the boundaries of mobile computing performance in the years to come," Renduchintala said in a statement.

Chip makers are pushing 64-bit computing in the mobile space, even though the dominant operating system—Google's Android—is not yet optimized for 64 bits. According to analysts with ABI Research, shipments of 64-bit mobile processors will grow beyond 182 million by the end of the year and will jump to more than 1.12 billion units by 2018. However, they also said that 64-bit-compliant Android smartphones most likely won't hit the market until sometime in the second half of the year after the next update of the OS is released.

Apple was the first to come to market with a 64-bit mobile chip, the ARM-based A7, in late 2013. More than 36 million iPhones and iPads powered by the chip were launched, the ABI analysts said. Qualcomm, Marvell, MediaTek and Nvidia have since announced 64-bit mobile processors. Intel in February unveiled the Atom Z3480 Merrifield system-on-a-chip (SoC), a 64-bit x86 mobile processor aimed at smartphones that is based on the chip maker's Silvermont architecture.

"Our new Atom processors for Android smartphones and tablets offer leading 64-bit performance and battery life, and the new 7260 platform gives the ecosystem a compelling LTE-Advanced experience," Hermann Eul, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group, said at the time of the Merrifield announcement.

For Qualcomm, the 808 and 810—which power smartphones that run Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone operating systems—are only the latest 64-bit Snapdragons. For example, the company in December 2013 announced the Snapdragon 410 aimed at midrange devices. "The Snapdragon 410 chipset will also be the first of many 64-bit capable processors as Qualcomm Technologies helps lead the transition of the mobile ecosystem to 64-bit processing," Jeff Lorbeck, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Qualcomm in China, said at the time.

The quad-core Snapdragon 810 features a mix of ARM Cortex-A57 cores for compute-intensive workloads and Cortex-A53 CPUs for tasks that demand less power. It also offers a native 4K Ultra HD interface and video, an improved camera suite of features, and Qualcomm's Adreno 430 GPU that officials said will deliver up to 30 percent faster graphics performance and 100 percent faster performance for GPUs processing general-purpose computing tasks. It also will reduce power consumption by as much as 20 percent, compared with its predecessor.

The chip, which officials said is the company's fastest mobile chip to date, offers better memory and WiFi performance, and support for Bluetooth 4.1, USB 3.0, near-field communication (NFC) and Qualcomm's IZat location capabilities.

The 808 offers the same LTE-Advanced, radio and WiFi connectivity capabilities as the 810, and both support ARM's ARMv8-A 64-bit instruction set. The six-core chip also includes support for 2K displays, the Adreno 418 GPU, and is configured with two ARM Cortex-A57 cores and four Cortex-A53 CPUs.

Both chips will begin sampling with device makers in the second half of 2014.