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Snapdragon 820 and Kryo CPU: heterogeneous computing and the role of custom compute

Sep 2, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor has been purposefully designed to provide innovative user experiences for premium-tier mobile devices. To deliver the type of innovation consumers expect, mobile processors must be designed to handle increasing computing requirements, while simultaneously using less battery power and remain cooler than ever, with thinner and lighter designs being employed by OEMs.

Experiences like virtual reality, computer vision, and advanced imaging are helping expand smartphone capabilities, while also demanding more performance. Balancing increased performance with longer battery life has always been critical for mobile processors—and Snapdragon 820 has been designed with efficiency throughout.

The 820 is engineered with custom-built, highly optimized cores designed for heterogeneous computing—the ability to combine different functional cores of the system-on-chip (SoC), like the CPU, GPU and DSP cores, to achieve previously unattainable performance and power savings, rather than using the same core for different tasks.

Qualcomm Technologies has been custom designing mobile processors for over twenty-five years, and using our heterogeneous computing experience, we’ve custom designed each of the individual cores of the Snapdragon 820 to achieve higher efficiency so that they work together more effectively as a comprehensive system with other onboard components, hence the term “system-on-chip.”

Introducing Kryo

The CPU is still one of the most familiar cores on the modern SoC and is key in setting the speed and heartbeat for the entire processor. With the Snapdragon 820, Qualcomm Technologies is introducing Qualcomm Kryo, our first custom-designed 64-bit quad-core CPU, as part of a comprehensive redesign of our premium-tier mobile processor.

Kryo is tightly integrated with the Adreno 530 GPU and Hexagon 680 DSP and is designed for high-performance mobile computing along with the latest in multimedia and connectivity. Kryo follows the popular custom Krait CPU, which powers the Snapdragon 800, 801, and 805 processors.

Custom cores

Why would we spend the time to engineer a CPU exclusive to the Snapdragon processor? Because customization means being able to meet the needs of consumers without compromising on performance or battery life. Higher performance is often at odds with longer battery life—but that’s what we’ve engineered into the first generation of Kryo.

Kryo is being manufactured on the latest 14nm FinFET technology and is designed to reach speeds up to 2.2 GHz. With Kryo CPU and Snapdragon 820, you can expect up to 2 times the performance and up to 2 times the power efficiency when compared with the Snapdragon 810 processor.

When combined with the other heterogeneous elements of the Snapdragon 820, Kryo is instrumental in delivering the user experience, innovation, and efficiency that defines Snapdragon 820 as one of the most innovative premium-tier mobile processors Qualcomm Technologies has ever built. Due to its design to sustain high performance at low power, the Snapdragon 820 is also an excellent choice for adjacent commercial applications like automotive and other embedded mobile applications.

Symphony System Manager

Along with Snapdragon 820 and Kryo, we’re introducing Qualcomm Symphony System Manager. Because of the heterogeneous nature of Snapdragon 820, increasingly more tasks are shared among the CPU, GPU, and DSP, as well as with special purpose components such as the Qualcomm Spectra camera ISP. That means even more system performance and power savings can be achieved, when you can run the right task on the right processor, or properly combine the right processors together for the right task.

While some processors limit their system management to CPU cores, Symphony is designed to manage the entire system-on-chip in different configurations so that the most efficient and effective combination of processors and specialized cores are chosen to get the job done as quickly as possible, with the least amount of power. For example, when a user is taking a picture, Symphony responds to the system demand making sure that the right components are powered up running at the needed frequency and only as long as needed. These components include CPU, Spectra ISP, Snapdragon Display Engine, GPU, GPS, and memory system.  

When these purpose-built powerhouses are combined with precise system management, new levels of efficiency and amazing user experiences await.

The higher the Snapdragon tier, the higher the performance and the faster the speeds

Kryo is the last major component to be introduced in the heterogeneous compute triad within the Snapdragon 820, in addition to the Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU and Qualcomm Hexagon 680 DSP.

Stay tuned to learn more about some of the leading use cases and experiences supported by the Snapdragon 820, including virtual reality, computer vision, and advanced imaging. And you can watch this video for more details on what custom micro-architecture is and why it matters.

Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm Kryo, Qualcomm Krait, Qualcomm Adreno, Qualcomm Hexagon, Qualcomm Spectra, and Qualcomm Symphony System Manager are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Mark Shedd

Director, Marketing

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