The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 made a splash when it was launched in December 2017. Boasting of a 10nm process and improved performance, it was (and still is) the star of the 'Android-speaking' folks who love speed. However, a year down the line, the Snapdragon 845 has already seen a couple of worthy competitors — Apple's A12 Bionic and Huawei's Kirin 980.
Both these processors boast of a 7nm process — a first in the smartphone world. Apart from that, the A12 Bionic processor bundles plenty of impressive features such as an improved Neural Engine and 50% faster graphics performance, among others.
So, it seems only fit that we compare the features of Apple A12 Bionic with Snapdragon 845 to highlight the differences and similarities.
Speed and power are two of the key highlights of Qualcomm's 2018 flagship processor. The Snapdragon 845 is a 64-bit octa-core chip and is based on Samsung's 10nm design process.
The CPU cores in the Snapdragon 845 are called the Kryo 385, which are used in a combination of four performance and four efficiency cores. If we dive deep into the details, the Kryo 385 is designed using a 64-bit semi-custom ARM Cortex-A75 (performance core) clocked at 2.8GHz and Cortex-A55 (efficiency cores) clocked at 1.7GHz.
These cluster of cores combine to offer improved task-sharing capacities and low latency rates. In addition to it, the 845 has L2 cache and a shared 2MB L3 cache which are based on ARM’s DynamIQ controller. For those who are unaware, ARM’s DynamicIQ technology engages the right processor for the right task, thus providing optimal control.
On the power front, the Snapdragon 845 is more power efficient, thanks to the 10nm design process and dedicated processing units. In addition to it, it can also charge faster, thanks to its support for Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+.
As opposed to the eight-core CPU, the A12 Bionic has a six-core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores. Though there isn't much relative increase in performance as against its predecessors, the A12 Bionic will consume less power. Also, let's not forget that it's one of the first 7nm processors.
As you might already know, smaller nodes (or die size) means that more complexity to fit components on a chip. However, shrinking components allows reaping faster and better processing power, while keeping the temperature down.
Those were the implementations. Now, coming to the real world scenarios, it's true that phones can seldom use all the processor cores at a time. Though Apple rarely releases benchmark scores of its processors, a French site iGeneration has claimed that the chip has scored 4673 points on single-core and 10912 on multi-core, in Geekbench 4 benchmark.
On the other hand, the Snapdragon 845 powered OnePlus 6 (8GB RAM) clocked a score of 2411 on single-core and 8204 on multi-core on Geekbench 4. Please note that the score of a specific phone also has a lot to do with how the phone manufacturer has optimized the internals and the software. In a nutshell, the scores may differ. However, you get a rough idea of how the A12 Bionic races ahead of the Snapdragon 845.
The benchmark score of a phone has a lot to do with how the manufacturer has optimized the phone
Another point to be noted is that Apple claimed that the new chipset has a 30% boost with app launches when compared to the A11 Bionic processor.
When it comes to AI, Apple has upped its game. Instead of a two-core Neural Engine, the A12 Bionic processor sports an eight-core version which is capable of handling a whopping five trillion AI tasks per second.
Whether it's about better face detection, improving edge detection on portrait mode, or making predictions based on your actions, AI plays a significant role in this new processor. Aside from that, one of its main tasks is to monitor the resource allocations and whether it's sufficient to handle the given tasks, not to mention, directing more additional fuel (processing power) where it's needed the most.
The Snapdragon 845 packs a third-generation mobile AI platform where the primary focus is on core optimization. This translates into a processor which can direct and assign tasks based on the power needed. Quite naturally, this AI engine will also find use when it comes to Face Unlock and camera effects like bokeh.
Aside from it, Qualcomm's flagship processor also supports plenty of AI frameworks like Google's TensorFlow, Facebook's Caffe 2, and the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX). That opens up a lot of potential for the app developers to tap into this feature for their apps.
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Improvements in the Camera Field
Another key focus area is camera tech, and it wouldn't be a surprise if I say that iPhone camera often features at the top of the best camera list.
As we mentioned above, this processor channels the power of its Neural engine to up its photography game. One of the prime examples is analyzing the shots in real-time and making the enhancements as needed.
In addition to it, the Image Signal Processor (ISP) also has undergone an upgrade, meaning that more details will be captured in portraits. Needless to say, iPhones with the A12 Bionic produce rich and crisp pictures.
The Snapdragon 845 debuted with the Qualcomm Spectra 280 ISP which is responsible for more accurate color reproduction, better pixel quality, improved noise reduction, improved Electronic Image Stabilization, and so on.
The Snapdragon 845-powered OnePlus 6
Furthermore, the upgrade in terms of color gamut makes for more natural-looking pictures. In short, the Snapdragon 845 brought superior photo clarity and video capabilities.
Did You Know: The Snapdragon 845 is the first chipset to support 4K HDR videos.
Who Reaches the End of the Race
These are some of the notable points of difference between both the leading chipsets. By now, you must have deduced which one leads the competition. The Snapdragon 845 packs a massive potential, but the A12 Bionic processor leapfrogs it. Qualcomm is almost on the brink of launching the 7nm process made Snapdragon 855 soon. However, it remains to be seen where Qualcomm stands when it comes to making the best smartphone processors.