Qualcomm has had an incredible year. It wasn’t too long ago that I was complaining about Qualcomm’s release cadence, the lull between Scorpion and Krait allowed competitors like NVIDIA, Samsung and TI to get a foothold in the market. Since the arrival of Krait, the move to 28nm and the launch of monolithic AP/LTE solutions, no competitor has been able to come close to touching Qualcomm. These days the choice of integrating mobile silicon really boils down to what Snapdragon variant an OEM wants to go with. TI is out of the business, NVIDIA hasn’t seen much traction with Tegra 4 and even Samsung will ship Qualcomm silicon in many of its important markets. 
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 was the SoC of choice at the beginning of the year, with Snapdragon 800 taking over that title more recently. Earlier this week, Qualcomm announced the successor to the 800: the Snapdragon 805. 
We’re expecting to see devices based on the Snapdragon 805 to be shipping in the first half of 2014, so Snapdragon 800 will still enjoy some time at the top of the charts.
The 805 starts by integrating four Krait 450 cores. Krait 450 appears to be an evolutionary upgrade over Krait 400, with no changes to machine width, cache sizes or pipeline depth. Qualcomm claims to have improved power and thermal efficiency, as well as increased maximum frequency from 2.3GHz to 2.5GHz. I suspect the design is quite similar to Krait 400, perhaps with some bug fixes and other minor tweaks. Qualcomm is likely leveraging yield and 28nm HPM process tech improvements to get the extra 200MHz over Krait 400. Krait 450 also adds 36-bit LPAE (Large Physical Address Extensions) to enable memory support above 4GB. This is a similar path to what we saw desktop PCs take years ago, although I'd expect the transition to 64-bit ARMv8 to happen for Qualcomm next year.
The GPU sees the bigger upgrade this round. The Snapdragon 805 features Qualcomm’s Adreno 420, designed 100% in house at Qualcomm. Adreno 420 brings about a D3D11-class feature set to Qualcomm’s mobile graphics, adding support for hull, domain and geometry shaders. Adreno 420 also includes dedicated tessellation hardware. Full profile OpenCL 1.2 is now supported. Texture performance improves by over 2x per pipe, and also gains ASTC support.
Adreno 420 is more efficient at moving data around internally. The GPU has a new dedicated connection to the memory controller, whereas in previous designs the GPU shared a bus with the video decoder and ISP. 
Qualcomm insists on occluding things like shader unit counts, so all we have to report today are a 40% increase in shader bound benchmarks (implying a 40% increase in shader hardware and/or more efficient hardware). 
Snapdragon 805 also features hardware accelerated decode of H.265 content. Hardware encode is still limited to H.264, but this is an awesome first for Qualcomm.
The Snapdragon 805 brings a much improved ISP. Qualcomm claims more than a 50% increase in ISP throughput (1GPixel/s class) compared to 640MP/s for Snapdragon 800. The 805 leverages its Hexagon DSP to deliver this level of performance. Qualcomm lists no change in DSP architecture between the 805 and 800.
Lastly, we see Qualcomm move to a 128-bit wide LPDDR3 memory interface for Snapdragon 805.  With support for LPDDR3-1600, the Snapdragon 805 features up to 25.6GB/s of peak memory bandwidth. It’s interesting to see Qualcomm go this wide just as Apple moved back down to a 64-bit wide interface. Qualcomm and Intel will be the only two shipping such a wide memory interface in the ultra mobile space come next year (although I do expect Apple to return to a wider memory bus at some point).
All of this makes for one beefy SoC, and a continuation of Qualcomm’s leadership in this space. I doubt we’ll see any slowing of Qualcomm’s roadmap after the 805 though. TSMC expects to be shipping 20nm wafers by the end of next year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find a 20nm successor to the 805 in late ’14/early ’15. Remember that on the last process node shift we got Krait, I wonder what we’ll get this time.
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  • ArthurG - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    Agree. If Nvidia boss is to be believed, T5 devices will be on shelves around May.
    And S805 will follow shortly one or two months later.
    With competing products available at nearly same time, this will be a very interesting round !
  • djgandy - Monday, November 25, 2013 - link

    Depends what definition of available you use. Tegra 4 was available in 2012 if you use Nvidia's version.
  • sherlockwing - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    Avaliable this Winter? Have you forgotten how long it took between Tegra 4's announcement at CES(Jan,2013) to Shield actually shipping(July 31, 2013)? Tegra 5 have not even been officially announced.
  • sherlockwing - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    It will be announced in Q1 according to Nvidia, and judging by its track record won't be shipping until Q3.

  • Suneater - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    Ok, I see now. Thanks for the info. I think i'm going to buy Tegra Note 7 now that is to long to wait till Tegra 5. It's very cheap anyway.
  • ArthurG - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    1- I agree its very disappointing. But and its a big BUT, quality is better than features. Look here to see what a developer thinks about current mobile drivers state: https://dolphin-emu.org/blog/2013/09/26/dolphin-em...
    And many devs think the same. That's why Tegra5 will be a big deal

    2. I don't agree. T4 is not "destroyed" by any current SoC. It's on par. Look at Anand ipad air review, Tegra4 is leading many benchs and never far (except those hardware accelerated that showcase ARMv8 arch).

    3. I have a Tegra Note 7 and its not hotter than an Ipad or a S600 Nexus. Stop spreading FUD

    3. (again ? should be 4.) Tegra4i is a very interesting SoC, well positioned for the intended mid range market. 4 A9r4 cores at 2.3GHz on HPM with good GPU will destroy S600 in performance, will have same features (integrated icera 500 soft modem) and for a fraction of the cost. It's a very important SoC for nvidia because it will bring big volumes. Rendez-vous in Q1 2014 and you will see

    64 bit support: totally irrelevant on T5 time-frame. Performance difference will be a much higher buying factor.

    Summary: T5 is being demoed and at OEMs since August 2013 and will be in devices on Q2 2014 as said Nvidia boss few weeks ago in a financial conf call.
  • guidryp - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    You mean the iPad air review where it is compared to Lower Res Nvidia Shield that uses a Fan to keep to GPU cool?

    Some of the GPU scores are also run at native resolution 2048x1536 for iPad, 1280x720 for the Shield.

    So wow. When cooled by a Fan, the NVidia chip can eek out some wins, driving less than half the pixels.
  • syxbit - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    As for your dolphin-emu link, I don't see how it's relevant
    " we are really curious to see how good NVIDIA drivers for the Tegra 4 SoC are. We couldn’t get hold of a device powered by Tegra 4 yet...."
    They are saying that regular Nvidia GPUs are great. They didn't test the T4. Not only that, but they said that they've rewritten their app to use Open GL ES 3.0, which means it wouldn't even run on a T4...
  • ArthurG - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    it doesn't run on Qualcomm too and their broken papersheet ES3.0 :roll_smiley_will_be_nice_here:
    Sarcasm aside, you missed my point. The important information is not if it will run or not on T4, because its based on a very old nv mobile arch. The important thing is that Logan will have de facto the robust nv kepler drivers and it will be a dream come true for many devs : that what basically the guy expects in the dolphin article.
  • syxbit - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    I'm really looking forward to it. Do you think the T5 will have integrated Icera? This is absolutely required if they want to sell well on phones.

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