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Qualcomm looks to AI and VR with new Snapdragon

Virtual Reality

Qualcomm has unveiled plans for its new flagship smartphone chip, the Snapdragon 845, feeding off the buzz surrounding artificial intelligence, immersive experiences and longer battery life.

“There’s a lot to be excited about with premium devices using our new platform, which is expected to ship early next year.” Qualcomm said on its blog. “Amazing photos, smooth video, smart applications, fast connections, immersive XR, and extreme power. We can’t wait for user devices to start shipping!”

Like its predecessor, the Snapdragon 835, it wouldn’t be a bad bet to assume this will be a feature of the majority of next year’s flagship devices. But what is the new chip all about.

Firstly, AI is clearly a bit driver for the team. The 845 will feature a new Hexagon 685 DSP architecture, with GPU and CPU enhancements that Qualcomm claims with deliver up to three times faster processing of neural networks running on-device compared to the previous generation. More processing will now be located on devices, which, in theory, should improve latency, reliability, and security for those who can’t wait those extra couple of milliseconds.

Looking towards the virtual world of immersive experiences, the team is also boasting about a Adreno 630 visual processing subsystem, which consists of advancements in graphics, video, and display. Combined with heterogeneous computing, Adreno 630 is designed to enhance areas of immersion, including intuitive interactions, visuals, and sounds.

One of the areas which has been improved on the VR side of things is the  6 degrees of freedom (6-DoF). This was an area Qualcomm was shouting about in August, essentially allowing the user to better move physically in the virtual world, but there is another, quite useful, step forward here.

“With the Snapdragon 845, our new Adreno 630 better merges the physical with the virtual world using Room-Scale 6-DoF with Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), a mobile VR first,” Qualomm said. “This includes wall collision technology and allows you to move freely through both your virtual and physical world while avoiding real world obstacles that could inhibit your experience.”

In short, if you’re about to walk into something, you’ll get a warning. A simple idea, but the best ones usually are. A final point on the VR side of things is the focus of the eye. Qualcomm has said another new feature will be to detect where the user is looking before directing the highest graphics resources towards that point. It should improve the imagine, while lessoning the data strain through prioritization.

The final point is for those who are on the move. Battery life is an area of focus with the team claiming the new architectures can help improve battery life by up to 30%, while Quick Charge 4+ technology is engineered to get devices up to 50% of a full charge in 15 minutes. Whether these claims are based in reality remains to be seen, but battery power is becoming a useful USP for device manufacturers, so it is unsurprising to see this upgrade.

The Snapdragon 835 was a prominent feature of the mobile world throughout 2017, and with these updates it is perfectly feasible to assume the 845 will continue the reign. Huawei has already said it will be using the processor in a mysterious new launch next year, and we’re pretty sure it won’t be too long before other Android device manufacturers come forward and say the same thing.

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