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Snapdragon 820 countdown: new Hexagon 680 DSP

Qualcomm Technologies is proud to introduce the next new architecture within the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor: the Qualcomm Hexagon 680 DSP (digital signal processor). Snapdragon processors use the DSP for offloading tasks that can be done faster and/or consume less power than the CPU. For example, the Hexagon DSP was engineered to double MP3 playback battery life on the Nexus 5. Today, we unveil what will be possible with this next-generation hardware.

There are two main new features to the Hexagon 680. The first is a completely separate DSP for sensor processing. The aptly named “low power island” is designed to improve the battery life of always-on use cases, including step or activity counters as well as sensor-assisted positioning (using your phones’ sensors to provide more accurate location when you don’t have a strong GPS signal). 

The second feature brings a new level of horsepower to Hexagon in the form of HVX (Hexagon Vector eXtensions). This added hardware supports advanced imaging and computer vision when paired with the Qualcomm Spectra camera ISP. For example, in low-light situations, the Snapdragon 820 will use the ISP and DSP to adaptively brighten areas of both video and photos that would otherwise appear too dark. With Hexagon 680, the Snapdragon 820 is engineered to perform this action several times faster and at only 10% of the power.

Example of a low light video (left) improved with low light video processed by the Hexagon 680 DSP (right)

With Hexagon 680 integrated into Snapdragon 820, the DSP is taking center stage on a wider-range of the newest user experiences. Stay tuned for upcoming news in the countdown to the Snapdragon 820 launch.  In the meantime, check out the visual advancements inside the Qualcomm Adreno 530 and the Qualcomm Spectra ISP.

Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm Hexagon, Qualcomm Adreno, and Qualcomm Spectra are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.