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Snapdragon 820 DSP power pries open new markets

Posted: 28 Aug 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Snapdragon 820? hexagon DSP? HVX vector? VR? power?

Some of the 820 DSP's advanced image and video processing technology was revealed at the recent SIGGRAPH'15 conference, but it's worth mentioning that HDX has the first industry wide-vector SIMD extensions for DSP. That enables customer development of new use cases in virtual reality (VR), advanced camera, computer vision (CV) and video applications. Snapdragon 820 with Hexagon 680 and HVX enables new premium Spectra image signal processor (ISP) camcorder and imaging features for low light video and HDR images, while delivering up to 3X performance improvement and 10X power savings compared to the company's previous chip generation. The Hexagon 680 supports premium Spectra ISP camcorder and imaging features including low-light video and enhances high-definition recording while providing up to 3x performance, 10x lower energy vs. multi-core CPU for low-light enhancement.

Sensor hub capability

An important sensor hub capability is provided through the 820's Low Power Island, which employs a very low power independent DSP that acts as a sensor hub for positioning, acceleration and more. As a dedicated lower power island with always-on capability drastic power savings accrue over employing the CPU for such functionality. The dedicated lower power island and infrastructure are said to enable up to 3x power savings with always-on use cases like pedometer and rotation vector (for sensor-assisted positioning).

The company claims the 820 will have industry-leading performance and also comes with a 40% power reduction, which is significant and due in part to the process node shrink from 20nm to 14nm as well as offloading key CPU functionality to the Hexagon DSPs.

Although premium smartphones are the primary market for the 820, Qualcomm is seriously looking at other markets for it, like the fast-growing consumer drone market. The company's current line of Snapdragon 800 chips could replace multiple chips currently employed to handle photography, navigation and communications in such devices. The company believes that its approach could shave 100s of dollars compared to current low-end drone prices. And with the advanced Snapdragon 820, drone companies could have even more advanced features around concerns like collision avoidance and geo-fencing.

The Snapdragon 820 begins early sampling through the last half of this year and is slated to ship in consumer devices in the first half of 2016.

- Will Strauss
??Principal Analyst
??Forward Concepts

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