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
Snapdragon 652
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
2x 32-bit @ 1866MHz
ISP/Camera Dual ISP
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
Snapdragon 617
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
1x 32-bit @ 933MHz
ISP/Camera 21MP Dual ISP
Encode/Decode 1080p30 H.264 / 1080p60
H.264 & H.265
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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  • SquarePeg - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Still using 28nm for the SD 653 is just wrong. But hey they gotta gimp their midrange somehow since their Kryo cores are so weak. 4xA53's @ 2ghz and 2XA73's @ 2ghz built on 14/16nm would be a killer midrange SoC.
  • saratoga4 - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    It really does seem like they're afraid of the A72 embarrassing Kryo. I bet we see a 14 nm version of it as soon as the 820/821 is discontinued.
  • Valantar - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Exactly. Considering that the HiSilicon Kirin 950/955 is more than competitive with the 820/821, I'd say Qualcomm is using their massive market share to sell their own custom cores rather than A72s purely out of prestige/not wanting to admit failure. Especially after the fiascos that were the 808 and 810, The 82X series seems like a "look, we're not using those cores that underperformed last year" play from Qualcomm. A 650 series on 14nm with a proper GPU would be very, very competitive with the 82X series. The problem with that is that it would give buyers a more direct comparison in terms of price v. performance compared to other chipmakers. And Qualcomm sure doesn't want that.
  • 0iron - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    4xA35 + 2xA73 would be better for midrange due to smaller die & efficiency. It's almost a year since A35 was announced, but still no new SoC using it.
  • CloudWiz - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Since A35 is targeted towards ultra-high efficiency it is likely that QC doesn't want to compromise performance even in the midrange. I think if vendors really want to go deca-core, 4x A35 + 4x A53 + 2x A73 would be the way to go.
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    The a35,iirc, is the replacement for the a7, which is plenty fast enough to keep the system responsive while the big cores are hotplugged.
    The a53's, OTOH, have just been abused. The only phones they should be the primary cores in are budget models.
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    The a72 looks to be more efficient than any other arm core*

    *Not designed by Apple
  • Meteor2 - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Not sure that's the case. I'm sure I've seen charts showing Ax cores to be more powerful, but not more efficient than A72 -- at least when normalised for manufacturing process.
  • name99 - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    On TSMC 16FF, Apple A9@1.85GHz gets about 2500 for Geekbench3,
    Kirin 950 so A72@2.3GHz gets about 1700.

    That's as close to a same process comparison as you're going to get.
    You can assert that the A72 uses less energy to get that score, but there's little evidence for that. The Mate 8 lasts a long time on a battery, but also has a HUGE battery --- no-one's claiming that it has some sort of "life/battery size" that is above average.

    Presumably in a few days we'll see the Kirin 960 sporting A73 cores, built on TSMC 16FF+. But I suspect its performance relative to the A10 will be somewhat worse than the A72:A9 ratio.
  • zodiacfml - Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - link

    Yup. Boring stuff.

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