Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 630
Qualcomm has announced two new platforms today, the Snapdragon 660 and 630. Both are built on the company’s latest 14nm FinFET process. They are also each part of Qualcomm’s so-called “High tier,” which rests — as one would numerically assume — between the 800 and 400 tiers. I don’t want to oversimplify too many details of this release since it is very nifty, but at the same time I would like to ensure the information I’m presenting is accessible, so forgive me if I occasionally digress and/or geek out.
Both platforms will include new features like Bluetooth 5 support and the All-Ways Aware hub, which is a collection of low-power sensors tied to the rest of Qualcomm’s platform and Hexagon DSP (wiki-hole, cool stuff). The latter is basically the low-power processor inside the platform that provides things like step counting, location tracking, and other background activities without killing battery life. It supports Google’s Awareness API, a set of APIs for contextual actions. They both also include USB-C 3.1 support, a bump to Quick Charge 4, and the X12 LTE Modem which peaks at 600Mbps, as well as some new video chops via the Spectra 160 ISPs (this processes the raw data from the camera).
The 660, in particular, brings some large changes. It’s replacing the reference A72/A53 cores from the 653 with Qualcomm’s Kryo 260 in-house design. I’ve been a big fan of the increased performance from Qualcomm’s custom cores, and I hope that holds true with the 660. Qualcomm alleges that it sees 20% gains over the 650, so that would appear to be the case. It also has Dual Band Simultaneous 2×2 MIMO WiFi (read: fast). The Adreno 510 in the 653 has been tossed for the Adreno 512, with a supposed 30% increase in GPU performance.
The consanguineous 630 won’t see the same fancy new Kryo cores. It has eight ARM reference A53s, just like the model it replaces, but adds LPDDR4x support. Four of those are at 2.2GHz and four at 1.8GHz, with an advertised 10% bump in overall performance. It features the Adreno 508 GPU which has the same supposed 30% gains over the previous model, and the max resolution is also a bit higher than the 626 it is replacing, as it now supports up to QXGA (2048 x 1536).The best part for hardware makers is that both of these platforms are software and pin-compatible with the models they replace, so new devices should arrive that much more quickly. These specifications make the 660 look like a good contender, but the 630 is certainly no slouch, either. The 660 is available now and should be in devices arriving as soon as this quarter, while the 630 is not going to be available until the end of May, so expect to see it landing in phones sometime next quarter.