File this under more is better – Qualcomm has just announced new ARM chips with more bits and more cores than ever before. The Snapdragon 610 and 615 are the chip maker's new 64-bit mobile processors, and the 615 packs eight CPU cores. Despite the big headlining features, these aren't intended to be flagship chips.


Qualcomm is in the habit of making custom CPUs for its ARM chips – those are the Krait cores you hear so much about. The company has used ARM's Cortex reference designs in a few chips previously, like the Snapdragon 400. These new chips are the same story. They use ARM cores instead of updated Krait CPUs, but they're based on ARM's next-generation ARMv8 instruction set (thus, 64-bit). Both the 610 and 615 will run ARM Cortex-A53 cores, so it's just the number and layout of the cores that's different.

Cortex-A53 is going to be the 64-bit equivalent of ARM's current Cortex-A7. That's the "little" half of ARM's big.LITTLE design, but A7 is also used as a standalone CPU in various mid-range processors. It's the same story with the Snapdragon 610 and 615 – Qualcomm is just using the A53 instead of pairing it with the A57 in big.LITTLE. However, the octa-core 615 will have its eight cores divided into two CPU islands a bit like big.LITTLE, with one tuned for speed and the other for efficiency. Qualcomm will also include its customary LTE modem in these chips.

The 610/615 also have a new GPU on-board called the Adreno 405 (probably a scaled back version of the 420 set to debut in the Snapdragon 805). This is a much bigger update for the Snapdragon 610 and 615 than the new 64-bit CPUs. The Adreno 405 is a real step up for mid-range designs. It is expected to have support for DirectX 11.2, OpenGL ES 3.0, hardware tessellation, and OpenCL for GPGPU.

These chips will probably be overshadowed by some future revision of the Krait CPU based on ARMv8, but we've got a while to wait. The Snapdragon 610 and 615 won't even be out until late 2014.

[PR Newswire]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

  • Matthew Merrick

    No. The snapdragon 410 was announced ages ago, and it's 64 bit (still not in any phones yet though)

  • HellG

    So after Qualcomm CEO called both 64bit and Octa core a marketing gimmick,they are now using both? hmm...

    • Stefan Eckhardt

      Well, as this is a mid-range chipset featuring both, just to provide when someone desperately wants to slap those flashy tags on for marketing advantage, I say he proved true to his word.

      Stupid people will think they just bought the best of the best (and should still be happy because it shouldn't prove too bad either), marketing guys are happy they made them think that, Qualcomm sold some silicon, everybody wins.

      • Bluewall

        While this is pretty much true, I still find the irony quietly funny here

        • Mike Reid

          You have to understand (or remember) that marketing people are the biggest BS'ers there are. The guy trying to sell a car or whatever will often say anything to make the sale.

          Like politicians, it's safest to always assume they're lying, unless there's very good proof otherwise.

          At least they're not telling us they're going in coming flagships soon.

    • chello gonzalez

      The reason why they said that is because apple came out with the 64bit processor for the iphone 5s. They're is no real reason to come out with a 64bit processor if your only running 1gb of ram, which the iphone 5s has only 1gb of ram. They say you at least need 3-4gb of ram in order to fully run the 64bit processor. It is a gimmick no real use out of the 64bit processor with just 1gb of ram. It's marketing apple just wanted to say they came out with it first, and application run better and faster. Not true at all. It really is a gimmick. Nothing special at all, it still runs the same, it's obviously a bit faster then previous iphone 5 but no major improvement. And I really don't see anything special on what Apple did with the 64bit processor using the iphone 5s. If someone knows please let me know what. It was just a selling point in my eyes.

      • Somnambulator

        The iPhone 5s is significantly faster than the 5. It's a serious hardware upgrade matched with more efficient 64-bit instructions in core apple apps. I, like you, thought it was purely marketing when they announced 64-bit iOS. i laughed at the show they put on to announce the 5s. However, i've since been shown that it's a legitimate speed improvement. the hardware in the 5S is much faster than the 5, and native 64-bit apps run faster than their 32-bit counterparts. 64-bit allows for >4GB total system memory, but also for more efficient instruction sets.

        And this is coming from an apple hater with a G2.

        • ssj4Gogeta

          Please see my reply to @chellogonzalez:disqus. It's isn't 64-bit that makes Apple's silicon faster, it's the microarchitecture.

      • ssj4Gogeta

        64-bit doesn't just mean the memory addressing capability. It also comes with bigger registers and instructions that can operate on bigger operands. However, all those things hardly contribute to a "normal" app's speed. However, what makes Apple's implementation faster is that the microarchitecture is wider and faster. It should be possible to make a chip just as fast, and which uses 32-bit instructions.

  • danishdhanshe

    Where's my armv8 processor Qualcomm?

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Well at least this will be more useful on Android with bigger RAM capacities

    • chello gonzalez

      Then on apple. But the new iphone 6 will come equipped with more ram. Well I think they will.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        I doubt they are going to upgrade the RAM in iPhone this time around, for iPhone and iPods - 1GB is pretty much enough as of now, the iPads could be upgraded to 2GB though.

        But even if they did - they wouldn't put more than 2 gigs, which is still out of field of benefit from 64bit technology

    • h4rr4r

      That is one aspect of 64 bit addressing, but not the only one.

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    64-bit architecture does provide an advantage, because it doubles the amount of floating-point registers, new version of NEON etc, but it won't offset those low clock speeds.

    • chello gonzalez

      Even using it with 1gb of ram????

      • h4rr4r

        Yes. Read the rest of his comment.

      • Sergii Pylypenko

        Yes, floating-point calculations (video and 3D games) will run slightly faster on ARM64 compared to ARM32 with the same clock speed and amount of RAM.

  • DJ Focus

    What's the point of having two quad core configurations when they both use the same architecture? How will they tune it to make it more power efficient? Seems like a gimmick to me

  • Adrian Meredith

    qualcomm is really boring this year, i really hope the new tegra can get back in the game to provide some competition. They just need to get that denver processor done!

    • renz

      honestly i don't know if we going ever to see K1 in phones. anyway nvidia already have the green light on their i500 modem so if you're hoping to see tegra again in phones then hope for their software based modem to be successful. they announce T4i in last year MWC but it seems nothing new from nvidia at this year MWC.

  • renz

    "Mediatek octa cores is gimmick that's why we give you our Octa Core which is not gimmick because customer demands it" :P

    joking aside when we can see custom 64 bit core ala Krait from Qualcomm?

    • Luqmaan Mathee

      Hehe at Qualcomm provides sources for their processors.

  • GraveUypo

    64 bits is only gimmick while phone are at 2 or 3gbs of ram. by next year it won't be anymore.

    • chello gonzalez

      Agree. Thats why apples Iphone 5s is a gimmick. They're is no real reason to use the 64bit processor when only having 1gb of ram. It was just a marketing selling point for apple to just say they came out with it first. But it give them time to better understand the chip and have a better feel to what they want to do with it. Iphone 6 will have at least 4gb of ram and using its 64bit processor to what they want it to be used for. Well I hope they upgrade the ram. Knowing apple though they will probably upgrade it to 2gb of ram. Lol

      • Shitiz Garg

        But they're preparing for the future, by the time they actually hit the 64 bit requirement they'll be well prepared.

      • Somnambulator

        the 5S is 30% faster than the 5 in many benchmarks. Core apps are already coded to take advantage of 64-bit instruction sets, making them run faster. While 64bit certainly isn't necessary for the 5s, Apple now has a leg up on Android as it will be essentially an entire product cycle ahead in terms of coding OS and core apps to support, and then take advantage of, 64-bit instruction sets. iOS will only get faster the more core functionality and apps they re-code in this manner.

    • h4rr4r

      That is not the only purpose of 64bit addressing.