Today at Qualcomm’s 2016 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, the company announced several new additions to its low- and mid-tier Snapdragon SoC lineup, including the Snapdragon 427, 626, and 653. Each new Snapdragon SoC builds on its predecessor, adding a few key features.

The new Snapdragon 653 is the “Pro” version of the existing 652 similar to how the Snapdragon 821 is a “Pro” version of the 820. Qualcomm raised the max frequency of the Snapdragon 653’s four ARM Cortex-A72 CPUs to 1.95GHz, up from 1.80GHz in the 652, but kept the max frequency of the four ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs the same. There’s still an Adreno 510 GPU in the new SoC, but its peak frequency has also been increased.

The Snapdragon 653 still uses LPDDR3-1866 memory with 14.9GB/s of bandwidth like the 652, but doubles the amount of addressable RAM from 4GB to 8GB. This is a prudent extension given the current trend towards 4GB and 6GB configurations for Android phones in the mid-range segment and flagship phones pushing towards 8GB.

The Snapdragon 653 also received a modem upgrade: The Snapdragon X9 LTE modem replaces the Snapdragon X8 LTE modem in the 652. The X9 still supports up to 300Mbps on the downlink using 2x20MHz carrier aggregation and 64-QAM (Category 7), but boosts the uplink to 150Mbps by adopting 64-QAM (Category 13). The X9 can also improve call clarity when using the Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) codec for VoLTE calls.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Mid-Range to High-End SoCs
SoC Snapdragon 650
(MSM8956)
Snapdragon 652
(MSM8976)
Snapdragon 653
(MSM8976 Pro)
Snapdragon 820 / 821
(MSM8996 / MSM8996 Pro)
CPU 2x Cortex-A72 @ 1.80GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.44GHz
4x Cortex-A72 @ 1.80GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.44GHz
4x Cortex-A72 @ 1.95GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.44GHz
2x Kryo @ 2.15GHz / 2.34GHz
2x Kryo @ 1.59GHz / 2.19GHz
GPU Adreno 510 Adreno 530 @ 624MHz / 653MHz
Memory 2x 32-bit @ 933MHz
LPDDR3
14.9GB/s
2x 32-bit @ 1866MHz
LPDDR4
29.9GB/s
ISP/Camera Dual ISP
21MP
Dual 14-bit Spectra ISP
25MP / 28MP
Encode/Decode 2160p30, 1080p120
H.264 & H.265
2160p30 (2160p60 decode), 1080p120
H.264 & H.265
Integrated Modem Snapdragon X8 LTE
(Category 7)
DL = 300Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
UL = 100Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 16-QAM
Snapdragon X9 LTE
(Category 7/13)
DL = 300Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
Snapdragon X12 LTE
(Category 12/13)
DL = 600Mbps
3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
Mfc. Process 28nm HPm 14nm LPP

* Snapdragon SoCs still in production but not shown: 810, 808, 805, 801, 800

The Snapdragon 625 gets a new “Pro” version too in form of the Snapdragon 626. Both of the Cortex-A53 CPU clusters get a boost from 2.0GHz to 2.2GHz, but Qualcomm did not disclose the frequency of the Adreno 506 GPU.

The Snapdragon 625’s X9 LTE modem carries over to the 626, but the new SoC updates Bluetooth support from 4.1 to 4.2. The Snapdragon 626 also supports Qualcomm’s TruSignal antenna boost technology, which optimizes reception in weak signal strength conditions and from the attenuation that occurs when holding a phone. Working together with the antenna matching tuner (a separate IC that’s part of Qualcomm’s RF360 suite) and transceiver, the X9 LTE modem in the Snapdragon 626 performs the processing that enables the dynamic tuning.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Mid-Range SoCs
SoC Snapdragon 615 / 616
(MSM8939)
Snapdragon 617
(MSM8952)
Snapdragon 625 / 626
(MSM8953 / MSM8953 Pro)
CPU 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.70GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ ?
4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.50GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ ?
4x Cortex-A53 @ 2.00GHz / 2.20GHz
4x Cortex-A53 @ 2.00GHz / 2.20GHz
GPU Adreno 405 Adreno 506
Memory 1x 32-bit @ 800MHz
LPDDR3
6.4GB/s
1x 32-bit @ 933MHz
LPDDR3
7.46GB/s
ISP/Camera 21MP Dual ISP
24MP
Encode/Decode 1080p30 H.264 / 1080p60
H.264 & H.265
2160p30
H.264 & H.265
Integrated Modem Gobi 4G LTE / Snapdragon X5 LTE
(Category 4)
DL = 150Mbps
1x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
UL = 50Mbps
1x20MHz CA, 16-QAM
Snapdragon X8 LTE
(Category 7)
DL = 300Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
UL = 100Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 16-QAM
Snapdragon X9 LTE
(Category 7/13)
DL = 300Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM
Mfc. Process 28nm LP 14nm LPP

The Snapdragon 427 (MSM8920) is the newest member of the lower-tier 400 series, which now encompasses seven Snapdragon SoCs (400, 412, 415, 425, 427, 430, 435), ranging from the Snapdragon 400—containing either a dual-core Krait 300 or quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU and an Adreno 306 GPU—to the 435 and its octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU running at up to 1.4GHz with an Adreno 505 GPU and X8 LTE modem.

Like the other two new SoCs, the Snapdragon 427 is an update to an existing SoC. It has all the same features as the Snapdragon 425, including a quad-core A53 CPU running at up to 1.4GHz, an Adreno 308 GPU, a dual ISP supporting up to a 16MP camera, and single-channel LPDDR3-1334 memory all on a 28nm LP process. The sole change is an upgrade from the X6 LTE modem (Category 4) to the X9 LTE modem (Category 7/13), boosting peak downlink/uplink performance from 150Mbps/75Mbps to 300Mbps/150Mbps. This gives the new Snapdragon 427 the highest performing modem of the 400 series—and the only SoC in this tier to support Qualcomm’s TruSignal technology—but the 430 and 435 contain a faster GPU and ISP. Because the Snapdragon 427 maintains full pin and software compatibility with the 425, 430, and 435, it offers OEMs an easy path to adding the X9 LTE modem to their products.

Both the Snapdragon 653 and 626 SoCs should be commercially available by the end of 2016, while the Snapdragon 427 should appear in commercial devices in early 2017.

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  • serendip - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    28nm is still in use because it's cheap. You have to remember that the 6xx and 4xx lines compete with Mediatek so every cent counts. A 14nm SD 653 would be a flagship killer with long battery life. Maybe that's another reason Qualcomm are still using 28nm. Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    It's just a cost thing really. 28nm is dirt cheap.

    But Samsung are now making 14nm mid-range SoCs and IIRC even low-end SoCs, because they're overcome some of the initial high-cost issues with 14nm. And they've noticed Qualcomm staying on 28nm, so they could win some business from them.

    A Quad-A73 at 2.4GHz with a Quad-A35 would be a devastating value proposition on 14nm.
    Reply
  • eek2121 - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    There is a high end smart phone with 8 gigs of RAM? Which one? Not that it matters much, but that's cool. Reply
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Probably a check box "feature" or for use in other embedded devices. Perhaps a router or something using the SoC? Reply
  • UtilityMax - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    So for the third year in a row, much of the entry level and lower-midrange SoCs will iterate on the slow A53 cores. How exciting. Why do we even need eight identical "big-little" A53 cores on an entry level smartphone or tablet? Reply
  • serendip - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    8x A53 is just dumb, just like 8x A7 made for good headlines and synthetic benchmark scores but meant little in the real world. That said, there's nothing wrong about using A53 cores or their A35 successors for typical tasks with A72s as boost cores. The Snapdragon 650/652 punch well above their own weight thanks to those A72 cores speeding things up when needed, while the A53s sip power most of the time. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Indeed.

    My Galaxy A9 Pro just did 3d 7h 37m 35s on battery, with 10% left to go. I took a screen shot in disbelief. And before anyone says I didn't use my phone - I just returned from Asia to Europe, after nearly a year, and had many calls to do.

    Thats a 652 chip for you. (oh but my battery is 5000mAh)
    Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Dam, forget no edit available here:

    My point was, this 28nm HPE, or whatever it is, is clearly working, so why would they NOT use it for midrange devices? I imagine all the FinFET lithography lines are well-busy just now.

    If there is an A10 Pro, I'm gonna be all over that.
    Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Well you certainly don't play Pokemon Go :p Reply
  • serendip - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    I've got a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 with the 650 and a 4000 mAh battery and I usually get 10 hours screen on time. That's usually two days of emails, chat, music and browsing. No Pokémon Go though.

    The 650 and 652 are amazing chips because they're so cheap while still giving good performance. I think Qualcomm are waiting for 14nm processes to get cheaper and more efficient before switching over.
    Reply

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