It's been some time since Qualcomm issued the 400-series Snapdragon chip a generational update, but it looks like we're finally getting one today. The new Snapdragon 450 sees Qualcomm's mid-range smartphone platform move to a 14nm process, a change that should bring very significant efficiency gains, as current 400-series chips are on a 28nm process.

Like the outgoing Snapdragon 435, the current most-powerful 400-series chipset, the 450 still utilizes Cortex A53 cores, but on a smaller 14nm process. Qualcomm is also very substantially raising their max clock speed, up to 1.8GHz on the 450 versus a max of 1.4GHz on the 435. A new Hexagon 546 DSP will be up to five times as efficient as the DSP in previous 400-series chips, presumably a result of some higher-end parts from the 600 and 800 series trickling down into Qualcomm's portfolio.

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The 450 also adds support for 60FPS video capture and playback, dual cameras, USB 3.0, and Qualcomm's Quick Charge 3.0 technology. Like the 435, it features Qualcomm's X9 LTE modem (announced last year), which provides a pretty robust radio feature set for something that's going to end up in budget phones.

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There's a revised Adreno 506 GPU that adds support for things like Vulkan and DirectX 12 - this GPU is actually pulled from the Snapdragon 625, another case of trickle-down - that has twice the number of processing clusters and is built on the 14nm process (the 505 was 28nm, of course), resulting in very significant performance and efficiency gains.

You can read more about the Snapdragon 450 in the press release below, but suffice it to say, this is probably the most significant revision to the platform since the 400-series moved from the old A7 and Krait cores to the current A53 design. Shifting to a smaller process and updating some of the core components should make for a serious experience upgrade even over the Snapdragon 435 - though that upgrade will entail a slight wait. Qualcomm says the first devices with the new Snapdragon 450 won't begin shipping until Q4 of this year, so you won't see them showing up until October at the very earliest. Still, good news for the budget segment.

Press Release

Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 Mobile Platform To Bring14nm FinFET Process, Enhanced Dual-Camera Support and Fast LTE Connectivity to Mid-Range Smartphones and Tablets

SHANGHAI —June 28, 2017— At Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2017, Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., has introduced the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 450 Mobile Platform, a new entry to the Snapdragon 400 Mobile Platform tier. Catered to mid-range smartphones and tablets, the Snapdragon 450 is the first in its tier to use14nm FinFET process and is designed to deliver significant improvements in battery life, graphics and compute performance, imaging and LTE connectivity over its predecessor, the Snapdragon 435Mobile Platform.The Snapdragon 450 Mobile Platform focuses on improvements compared to its predecessor in four key categories of features:

  • Improved CPU and GPU: Higher performing octa-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU results in 25 percent increase in compute performance compared to its predecessor. Additionally, the integrated Qualcomm® Adreno™506 GPU delivers a 25 percent increase in graphics performance over the Snapdragon 435.
  • Battery life: Power management improvements result in up to four additional hours of usage time compared to the Snapdragon 435, as well as up to a 30 percent reduction in power when gaming, helping consumers stay connected and productive for much longer.The Snapdragon 450 also comes with Qualcomm® Quick Charge™3.0 support, which can charge a typical smartphone from zero to 80 percent in about 35 minutes.
  • Camera and multimedia:The Snapdragon 450 is the first in the 400-tier to support real-time Bokeh (Live Bokeh) effects.It is also designed to improve on previous generations by including support for enhanced dual camera at 13+13MP, or single camera support up to 21MP; hybrid autofocus; and 1080p video capture and playback at up to 60fps, enabling slow motion capture.The Snapdragon 450 also includes support for 1920x1200 full HD displays, as well as the Qualcomm®Hexagon™DSP, which enables multimedia, camera and sensor processing at greater performance and lower power than the previous generation.
  • Connectivity and USB: Users will enjoy fast LTE connectivity with the Snapdragon X9 LTE modem, which utilizes 2x20MHz carrier aggregation in both downlink and uplink for peak speeds of 300 Mbps and 150 Mbps respectively, support for a large number of mobile networks with Snapdragon All Mode, and 802.11ac with MU-MIMO support. The Snapdragon 450 also supports USB 3.0 which is first in its tier to support fast USB data transfer.

“We’ve made many recent changes to the Snapdragon Mobile Platforms as part of our vision to deliver the most advanced mobile functionality at the best possible value, and the Snapdragon 450 Mobile Platform is another realization of that vision,” said Kedar Kondap, vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “With the Snapdragon 450, users are going to see a dramatically improved level of performance, connectivity, battery life and imaging performance.”

To date, more than 1900 designs have launched or are in the pipeline across the Snapdragon 400 tier mobile platforms. The Snapdragon 450 is expected to begin commercial sampling to customers in Q3 2017, and is expected to be available in consumer devices by the end of the year.