Qualcomm debuts Kryo custom CPU for the Snapdragon 820

— 2:17 PM on September 2, 2015

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 SoC is an ambitious one. We already know that the company is targeting 40% improvements for graphics performance and power consumption with the chip's Adreno 530 GPU. Today, the company is throwing us another bone with details of the chip's custom CPU block, called Kryo.

Kryo is a 64-bit, quad-core processor built on a 14-nm FinFET process, and Qualcomm says it'll be able to reach speeds up to 2.2GHz. What's more, Kryo is supposed to deliver twice the performance of the Snapdragon 810 with twice the power efficiency. For context, the much-maligned Snapdragon 810 uses off-the-shelf ARM Cortex A57 and A53 cores in a big.LITTLE config, so the return to custom-designed cores could be a big deal for the 820 series.

Those huge purported gains in performance and power efficiency might come not just from custom CPU cores, but also from an emphasis on "heterogeneous computing" for the whole SoC. Qualcomm describes this approach as "[combining] 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."

To that end, Qualcomm is also introducing its Symphony System Manager block, which is supposed to help the Snapdragon 820 run tasks on the best-suited processor core or split a task among different cores to achieve the best possible performance and power efficiency.

Qualcomm says the reveal of the Kryo CPU is the last major piece of the Snapdragon 820 puzzle. There's no way to verify the company's eyebrow-raising performance claims without hardware in our hands, but the bar has certainly been set high.

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