Qualcomm has announced two new platforms today, the Snapdragon 660 and 630, meant to supplant the 653 and 626 respectively. 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).

660 slide

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 2x2 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.

630 Slide

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.

The full text of Qualcomm's press release is available below.

Press Release

Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms Drive Advanced Photography, Enhanced Gaming, Integrated Connectivity and Machine Learning

Support Top-tier Experiences Balancing Performance, Cost and Power

SAN DIEGO — May 8, 2017 — Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies Inc., has introduced two new mobile platforms, the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 660 and 630, both designed to support a leap in performance enabling advanced photography and enhanced gaming, in addition to long battery life and fast LTE speeds. The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms include the Snapdragon 660 and 630 SoCs, which encompass the baseband functionalities, plus software and hardware components including RF front end, integrated Wi-Fi, power management, audio codec and speaker amplifier, all to support a comprehensive mobile solution.

“With the introduction of the Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms, we are thrilled that features such as improved image quality and fast LTE speeds will now be available in a wide array of devices without sacrificing performance or quality,” said Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “This ensures that a greater number of consumers will be able to take advantage of higher quality user experiences in camera, audio and visual processing, connectivity, improved CPU and GPU performance, fast charging, security and machine learning.”

The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms focus on seven categories of features: 

  • Camera: The Qualcomm Spectra™ 160 premium camera ISP supports improved photographic image quality for more natural skin tones, superior low light photography, as well as better power efficiency and higher throughput for dual camera smartphones. Also supported are features like smooth optical zoom, bokeh effects, dual pixel autofocus, and improved camcorder video stabilization; 
  • Audio/Visual Processing: The Qualcomm® Hexagon™ 680 DSP featuring vector extensions (HVX) on the Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform enables high performance, power efficient processing of imaging, computer vision, and machine intelligence workloads, another first in the 600 tier. Optimized software libraries include support for TensorFlow and Halide. Both platforms also support Qualcomm All-Ways Aware™ technology with support for the Google Awareness API. This technology provides Qualcomm Technologies’ next generation of always-on contextual experiences and uses very low power running on the Hexagon DSP; 
  • Connectivity: The Snapdragon 660 and 630 both feature a Snapdragon X12 LTE Modem, paired with the new SDR660 RF transceiver, which support peak downlink data rates of 600Mbps to the 600-tier lineup of SOCs for the first time. The Snapdragon 660 supports 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi for twice as much data throughput and up to 60 percent lower download power consumption as the Snapdragon 652. It also offers improved coverage, especially in homes, and offices with hard to penetrate brick and concrete walls as well as advanced features such as LTE/Wi-Fi antenna sharing, and Dual Band Simultaneous (DBS) operation. Both platforms also come with advanced RF frontend support including Qualcomm® TruSignal™ adaptive antenna tuning with carrier aggregation, designed to dynamically optimize signal quality in varying user conditions for wide network coverage and more consistent data and voice experience. The Snapdragon 660 and 630 are the first 600-tier chipsets with envelope tracking technology, including high-power user equipment (HPUE) support, for superior power efficiency and thermal performance. Both platforms also integrate powerful location engines with better sensitivity and support for new constellations (Galileo and QZSS) for faster location fix, enhancements to support mandatory emergency service requirements, as well as smoother pedestrian navigation with up to 50 – 75 percent lower power consumption (compared to previous generation). Both platforms also feature Bluetooth 5 support, which doubles the amount of data that devices can transfer compared to the previous iteration; 
  • Improved CPU and GPU: The Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform is the successor to the Snapdragon 653 and features a 20 percent improvement in the Qualcomm® Kryo™ 260 CPU and 30 percent improvement in the Qualcomm® Adreno™ 512 GPU performance, ensuring a better gaming and multimedia experience for end users. The Snapdragon 630, which succeeds the Snapdragon 625, offers a 30 percent increase in the Adreno 508 GPU performance over its predecessor, as well as a 10 percent increase in CPU performance over its predecessor. Both platforms are designed to offer excellent battery life; 
  • Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 4: The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms feature the latest innovations in Quick Charge technology, which supports up to 5 hours of talk time in just 5 minutes of charging and up to 50 percent battery life in just 15 minutes of charging; 
  • Security: Both platforms support Qualcomm® Mobile Security, which provides security focused hardware-based protection, user authentication and device attestation on the mobile device; 
  • Machine Learning: OEMs and developers can also power immersive and engaging user experiences with machine learning on the Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms using the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine SDK. This heterogeneous software framework offers support for Caffe/Caffe2 and TensorFlow, making it easy to target and run neural networks on the Snapdragon core that matches the power and performance profile of the desired feature – CPU, GPU or DSP/HVX.

The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms share the same modem and camera architecture, and are pin and software compatible, making it simpler and easier for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to build, test and calibrate their devices. Both platforms use a 14nm FinFET process and provide 4K video capture and playback capabilities, along with 8GB maximum memory and Vulkan API support. Additionally, the Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform supports displays up to QHD (2K) resolution, whereas the 630 supports FHD/QXGA (1080p).

To date more than 1000 designs have launched or are in the pipeline across the Snapdragon 600 tier mobile platforms. The Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform is now shipping and the Snapdragon 630 Mobile Platform will begin shipping towards the end of this month. Additional links below to our spec sheets and blog post: https://www.qualcomm.com/products/qualcommsnapdragon-630-mobile-platform, https://www.qualcomm.com/products/qualcomm-snapdragon- 660-mobile-platform, https://www.qualcomm.com/news/snapdragon/2017/05/08/snapdragon-660-and-630-mobileplatforms-high-end-features-more-devices

About Qualcomm

Qualcomm's technologies powered the smartphone revolution and connected billions of people. We pioneered 3G and 4G – and now we are leading the way to 5G and a new era of intelligent, connected devices. Our products are revolutionizing industries, including automotive, computing, IoT, healthcare and data center, and are allowing millions of devices to connect with each other in ways never before imagined. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, all of our engineering, research and development functions, and all of our products and services businesses, including, our QCT semiconductor business. For more information, visit Qualcomm’s website, blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.

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 Qualcomm, Snapdragon, Hexagon, TruSignal, Kryo and Adreno are trademarks of Qualcomm Incorporated, registered in the United States and other countries. Qualcomm Spectra, Qualcomm AllWays Aware and Quick Charge are trademarks of Qualcomm Incorporated. Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm Spectra, Qualcomm Hexagon, Qualcomm All-Ways Aware, Qualcomm TruSignal, Qualcomm Kryo, Qualcomm Adreno, Qualcomm Quick Charge and Qualcomm Mobile Security are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

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