Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and 4 Gen 1 SoCs: mid-range and entry-level phones update

Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and 4 Gen 1 SoCs: mid-range and entry-level phones update

Qualcomm is unveiling a pair of new SoCs for the midrange and entry-level smartphone markets this morning. Refreshing the company’s long-running 600 and 400 series of chips, Qualcomm announces the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 and Snapdragon 4 Gen 1. Both SoCs receive similar spec bumps, incorporating newer and faster IP blocks from Qualcomm – such as Arm Cortex-A78 derivative processor cores – as well as moving to newer, more contemporary manufacturing processes.

The Snapdragon 600/400 ranges were last updated in mid and early 2021 respectively, with Qualcomm already gearing up for 2023, the time has finally come to update the bottom half of their product stack. . Following Qualcomm’s extensive cascading IP strategy, this generation of components sees both SoC lines migrate to Cortax-A78 processors for their main processor cores and, in the case of 6 Gen 1, double the number of cores from high performance processor. Both SoCs also come with faster Adreno GPUs, although in traditional Qualcomm fashion the company doesn’t offer many details on the underlying hardware.

Notably, however, Qualcomm’s 2023 mid-range/low-end parts do not make the jump to Armv9 architecture. Unlike the 8 Gen 1 and 7 Gen 1, which featured Arm’s new Armv9 cores, Qualcomm’s cascade development strategy means the 6 and 4 series will stay a bit further behind the curve. For end users, that should matter little at this time, but for smartphone vendors and software developers, it means Qualcomm won’t complete the Armv9 transition for at least another generation.

Meanwhile, nearly a year after Qualcomm announced its first Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, today’s announcement from Qualcomm aligns its remaining smartphone SoC families with its new product branding strategy. The 6 and 4 series pick up where the 600 and 400 series left off, respectively, resetting the count with the inaugural Gen 1 parts. Like the rest of the streamlined “Gen” series, this also means Qualcomm is dropping model numbers individual for its Kyro/Hexagon/Adreno/Spectra blocks, somewhat obscuring the IP generation Qualcomm uses there.

Snapdragon 6 Gen 1

For starters, we have the Snapdragon 6 Gen 1. Built on an unidentified 4nm process (Qualcomm didn’t say if it’s Samsung or TSMC), it replaces the outgoing Snapdragon 695. And in the process, delivers major CPU, camera, memory, and modem updates.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 series SoC
SoCs Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 Snapdragon 695 Snapdragon 690 Snapdragon 675
CPU 4x CA78
@2.2GHz

4x CA55
at 1.8GHz

2x Kryo 660 (CA77)
@2.2GHz

6x Kryo 660 (CA55)
at 1.7GHz

2x Kryo 560 (CA77)
@ 2.0GHz

6x Kryo 560 (CA55)
at 1.7GHz

2x Kryo 460 (CA76)
@ 2.0GHz

6x Kryo 460 (CA55)
at 1.7GHz

GPUs Adrene Adrene 619 Adreno 619L Adrene 612
PSD hexagon Hexagon 686 Hexagon 692 Hexagon 685
ISP/
Camera
spectra
(3x 12 bit)

1x 108MP or 48MP with ZSL
Where
25+16MP with ZSL
Where
3x 13MP with ZSL

4K HDR video

Spectrum 346T
(3x 12 bit)

1x 108MP or 32MP with ZSL
Where
25+13MP with ZSL
Where
3x 13MP with ZSL

Spectrum 355L
(2x 14 bit)

1x 192MP
Where
32+16MP with ZSL

Spectrum 250L
(2x 14 bit)

1x 192MP
Where
16+16MP with ZSL

Encode/
Decode
2160p30
H.264, H.265, VP9 (decoding only)
HLG
1080p60
H.264 and H.265
Memory 2x 16-bit at 2750 MHz
LPDDR5
22.0 GB/s
2x 16-bit at 2133 MHz
LPDDR4X
17.1 GB/s
2x 16-bit at 1866 MHz
LPDDR4X
14.9 GB/s
Built-in modem Integrated X62

LTE

5G NO
Sub-6 + mmWave
140MHz + 200MHz

DL=2900Mbps

Integrated X51

LTE
DL = 800 Mbit/s
UL = 210 Mbit/s

5G NO
Sub-6 + mmWave
DL=2500Mbps
UL = 1500 Mbit/s

Integrated X51

LTE
DL = 1200 Mbit/s
UL = 210 Mbit/s

5G NO
Under-6
DL=2500Mbps
UL = 900 Mbit/s

X12 LTE integrated

(Category 12/13)

DL=600Mbps
AC 3×20 MHz, 256-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
AC 2×20 MHz, 64-QAM

Wi-Fi/BT WiFi 6E (2×2)
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 5 (2×2)
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 5 (2×2)
Bluetooth 5.1
WiFi 5 (2×2)
Bluetooth 5.0
MFC. Treat 4nm TSMC 6nm 8nm LPI 11nm LPI

Arguably the biggest news this year is that Qualcomm has revamped the CPU core configuration for its mid-range SoC lineup. While the previous 6 series used a 2+6 configuration with two high-performance cores (Cortex-A7x) and 6 high-efficiency cores (Cortex-A5x), the 6 Gen 1 moves to a 4+4 configuration, very similar to what Qualcomm is already doing for the 8 and 7 series. The net result is that, combined with the switch to Cortex-A78 CPU cores for performance cores, the 6 Gen 1 should offer significantly better CPU performance than its predecessor, Qualcomm touting a 40% improvement. That said, it will be interesting to see what the higher number of performance cores mean for the battery life of the 6 Gen 1, as those cores are going to be (relatively) more power hungry.

On the GPU side, Qualcomm doesn’t say much about the Adreno GPU block used here. That said, the explicit mention of variable rate shading support implies that this is a new generation of GPU IP from Qualcomm, as the feature was not available on the Snapdragon 695. Qualcomm’s claims of a (up to) 35% GPU performance boost also hint at a bigger update to their GPU.

The SoC is powered by an LPDDR5-compatible memory controller, bringing that down to a 6-series chip for the first time. The maximum frequency supported here is slightly lower than Qualcomm’s high-end SoCs, at LPDDR5-5500, which, combined with the 32-bit memory bus, offers a total of 22 GB/second of memory bandwidth. This equates to an approximately 29% increase in memory bandwidth.

Qualcomm has also updated its Hexagon DSP/AI block for its latest 6-series chip. The unnamed version of the IP is one of “7e generation designs”, which means that in addition to vector and scalar processing, it also includes tensor processing capabilities that are primarily aimed at speeding up AI inference.

As for the camera/ISP, Qualcomm is still using a triple 12-bit ISP here, with some modest performance improvements in pixel throughput. The big news here is the (re)introduction of HDR support for the 6-series, with Qualcomm supporting computational HDR on this class of SoC for the first time. As a result, the 6 Gen 1 can handle 4K HDR video recording at up to 30fps.

Finally, Qualcomm has also significantly improved the wireless capabilities of the SoC, both for cellular and Wi-Fi communications. On the cellular side, the chip integrates a Snapdragon X62 class modem, supporting sub-6 and mmWave bands. . Qualcomm doesn’t provide a detailed breakdown of transfer speeds, but on paper the modem can achieve downloads as fast as 2.9 Gbps over 5G. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi radio has undergone a long overdue upgrade, replacing Qualcomm’s dated FastConnect 6200 Wi-Fi 5 radio with a more modern Wi-Fi 6E radio based on their FastConnect 6700 IP.

Of the two SoC announcements today, 6 Gen 1 is the more forward-looking of the two. According to Qualcomm, we should see handsets using the new SoC appear in the first quarter of 2023, about four to six months from now.

Snapdragon 4 Gen 1

Meanwhile, the new Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 is Qualcomm’s entry-level SoC segment. Unlike its 6 Gen 1 counterpart, Qualcomm doesn’t update this chip as extensively, but 4 Gen 1 should still bring some modest improvements over its predecessor, the Snapdragon 480.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 series SoC
SoCs Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 Snapdragon 480 Snapdragon 460
CPU 2x CA78
@ 2.0GHz

6x CA55
at 1.8GHz

2x CA76
@ 2.0GHz

6x CA55
at 1.8GHz

4x Kryo 240 (CA73)
at 1.8GHz

4x Kryo 240 (CA53)
at 1.8GHz

GPUs Adrene Adrene 619 Adrene 610
PSD hexagon Hexagon 686 Hexagon 683
ISP/
Camera
spectra
(3x 12 bit)

1x 108MP or 32MP with ZSL
Where
25+13MP with ZSL
Where
3x 13MP with ZSL

Spectra 345
(3x 12 bit)

1x 64MP
Where
25+13MP
Where
3x 13MP

Spectrum 340
(2x 14 bit)

1x 48MP
Where
2x 22MP dual

Encode/
Decode
1080p60
H.264, H.265, VP9 (decoding only)
Memory 2x 16-bit at 2133 MHz
LPDDR4X
17.0 GB/s
2x 16-bit at 2133 MHz
LPDDR4X
17.0 GB/s
2x 16-bit at 1866 MHz
LPDDR4X
14.9 GB/s
Built-in modem Integrated X51

LTE
DL=800Mbps
UL = 210Mbps

5G NO
Sub-6 (no mm wave)
100MHz

DL=2500Mbps
UL = 900Mbps

Integrated X51

LTE
DL=800Mbps
UL = 210Mbps

5G NO
Sub-6 + mmWave
(100+200MHz)

DL=2500Mbps
UL = 660Mbps

X11 LTE integrated
(Cat 12/13)

DL=390Mbps
AC 2×20 MHz, 256-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
AC 2×20 MHz, 64-QAM

Wi-Fi/BT WiFi 5 (2×2)
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 5 (2×2)
Bluetooth 5.1
WiFi 5 (1×1)
Bluetooth 5.1
MFC. Treat TSMC 6nm 8nm LPI 11nm LPI

On the processor front, the 4 Gen 1 receives the same Cortex-A78 upgrade as the 6 Gen 1, pairing the cores with Cortex-A55 cores in a 2+6 configuration. In terms of architectural improvements, this is actually a bigger step forward here than 6 Gen 1, as the Snapdragon 4 series previously used Cortex-A76 cores here. However, with processor frequencies still capped at 2.0 GHz, any performance gains will have to come from processor architectural improvements alone. Overall, Qualcomm is touting a 15% improvement in CPU performance.

As for the GPU, the 4 Gen 1 gets an unnamed Adreno GPU block. This is again a more modest upgrade, with Qualcomm promoting a (up to) 10% increase in GPU performance. But since Qualcomm isn’t upgrading the memory controller – 4 Gen 1 still uses LPDDR4X-4266 memory on a 32-bit bus – there’s no memory bandwidth improvement to power a GPU significantly anyway. faster.

The camera/ISP block of the new 4-series SoC is also quite similar to its predecessor, with Qualcomm using a triple 12-bit ISP. The notable improvement here is that Qualcomm has dramatically increased the maximum photo resolution to 108MP, nearly doubling the number of pixels that can be captured in a single shot, and matching what the more powerful 6-series SoCs can do.

Meanwhile, in a sign that mmWave adoption in handsets isn’t as high as Qualcomm originally expected, the 4 Gen 1’s wireless sequel ends up being something of a regression. The Snapdragon X51 5G modem eventually drops mmWave support, leaving only sub-6 band support. Still, this is enough to achieve download speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps, and supported download speeds now reach 900 Mbps. The Wi-Fi radio also remains unchanged, with Qualcomm using a Wi-Fi 5 + Bluetooth 5.2 radio based on their FastConnect 6200 IP.

Finally, the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 is manufactured on TSMC’s 6nm process, making it the latest line of Qualcomm SoCs to be ported over to TSMC by rival Samsung. According to Qualcomm, handsets based on the SoC will ship shortly, with devices expected to be available in the remainder of this quarter.

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