GPU Performance & Power

GPU performance of the new Adreno 640 in the Snapdrago 855 is interesting: The company’s performance claims were relatively conservative as they showcased that the new unit would perform only 20% better than its predecessor. This is a relatively low figure given that Qualcomm also advertises that the new GPU sees a 50% increase in ALU configuration, as well as of course coming on a new 7nm process which should give the SoC a lot of new headroom.

Before discussing the implications in more detail, let’s see the performance numbers in the new GFXBench Aztec benchmarks.

As a reminder, we were only able to test the peak performance of the phone as we didn’t have time for a more thorough sustained performance investigation.

GFXBench Aztec Ruins - High - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screenGFXBench Aztec Ruins - Normal - Vulkan/Metal - Off-screen

Both Aztec High and Normal results fall pretty much in line with Qualcomm’s advertised 20% improvement over the Snapdragon 845. Here the new chipset falls behind Apple’s A11 and A12 chips – although power consumption at peak levels is very different as we’ll see in just a bit.

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Off-screen

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 Offscreen Power Efficiency
(System Active Power)
  Mfc. Process FPS Avg. Power
(W)
Perf/W
Efficiency
iPhone XS (A12) Warm 7FF 76.51 3.79 20.18 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Cold / Peak 7FF 103.83 5.98 17.36 fps/W
Snapdragon 855 QRD 7FF 71.27 4.44 16.05 fps/W
Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon 845) 10LPP 61.16 5.01 11.99 fps/W
Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Kirin 980) 7FF 54.54 4.57 11.93 fps/W
Galaxy S9 (Exynos 9810) 10LPP 46.04 4.08 11.28 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Snapdragon 835) 10LPE 38.90 3.79 10.26 fps/W
LeEco Le Pro3 (Snapdragon 821) 14LPP 33.04 4.18 7.90 fps/W
Galaxy S7 (Snapdragon 820) 14LPP 30.98 3.98 7.78 fps/W
Huawei Mate 10 (Kirin 970) 10FF 37.66 6.33 5.94 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Exynos 8895) 10LPE 42.49 7.35 5.78 fps/W
Galaxy S7 (Exynos 8890) 14LPP 29.41 5.95 4.94 fps/W
Meizu PRO 5 (Exynos 7420) 14LPE 14.45 3.47 4.16 fps/W
Nexus 6P (Snapdragon 810 v2.1) 20Soc 21.94 5.44 4.03 fps/W
Huawei Mate 8 (Kirin 950) 16FF+ 10.37 2.75 3.77 fps/W
Huawei Mate 9 (Kirin 960) 16FFC 32.49 8.63 3.77 fps/W
Huawei P9 (Kirin 955) 16FF+ 10.59 2.98 3.55 fps/W

Switching over to the power efficiency table in 3D workloads, we see Qualcomm take the lead in terms of power efficiency at peak performance, only trailing behind Apple's newest A12. What is most interesting is the fact that the Snapdragon 855’s overall power consumption has gone down compared to the Snapdragon 845 – now at around 4.4W versus the 5W commonly measured in S845 phones.

GFXBench T-Rex 2.7 Off-screen

T-Rex’s performance gains are more limited because the test is more pixel and fill-rate bound. Here Qualcomm made a comment about benchmarks reaching very high framerates as they become increasingly CPU bound, but I’m not sure if that’s actually a problem yet as GFXBench has been traditionally very CPU light.

GFXBench T-Rex Offscreen Power Efficiency
(System Active Power)
  Mfc. Process FPS Avg. Power
(W)
Perf/W
Efficiency
iPhone XS (A12) Warm 7FF 197.80 3.95 50.07 fps/W
iPhone XS (A12) Cold / Peak 7FF 271.86 6.10 44.56 fps/W
Snapdragon 855 QRD 7FF 167.19 3.83 43.65 fps/W
Galaxy S9+ (Snapdragon 845) 10LPP 150.40 4.42 34.00 fps/W
Galaxy S9 (Exynos 9810) 10LPP 141.91 4.34 32.67 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Snapdragon 835) 10LPE 108.20 3.45 31.31 fps/W
Huawei Mate 20 Pro (Kirin 980) 7FF 135.75 4.64 29.25 fps/W
LeEco Le Pro3 (Snapdragon 821) 14LPP 94.97 3.91 24.26 fps/W
Galaxy S7 (Snapdragon 820) 14LPP 90.59 4.18 21.67 fps/W
Galaxy S8 (Exynos 8895) 10LPE 121.00 5.86 20.65 fps/W
Galaxy S7 (Exynos 8890) 14LPP 87.00 4.70 18.51 fps/W
Huawei Mate 10 (Kirin 970) 10FF 127.25 7.93 16.04 fps/W
Meizu PRO 5 (Exynos 7420) 14LPE 55.67 3.83 14.54 fps/W
Nexus 6P (Snapdragon 810 v2.1) 20Soc 58.97 4.70 12.54 fps/W
Huawei Mate 8 (Kirin 950) 16FF+ 41.69 3.58 11.64 fps/W
Huawei P9 (Kirin 955) 16FF+ 40.42 3.68 10.98 fps/W
Huawei Mate 9 (Kirin 960) 16FFC 99.16 9.51 10.42 fps/W

Again switching over to the power and efficiency tables, we see that the Snapdragon 855 is posting a ~30% efficiency boost over the Snapdragon 845, all while slightly improving performance.

Overall, I’m very happy with the initial performance and efficiency results of the Snapdragon 855. The S845 was a bit disappointing in some regards because Qualcomm had opted to achieve the higher performance figures by increasing the peak power requirements compared to exemplary thermal characteristics of the Snapdragon 835. The new chip doesn’t quite return to the low power figures of that generation, however it meets it half-way and does represent a notable improvement over the Snapdragon 845.

System Performance - Slightly Underwhelming? Final Thoughts
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  • tipoo - Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - link

    That would be physics. Reply
  • id4andrei - Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - link

    Indeed. When you provide a small battery to a powerful SoC you get degraded batteries before the two year warranty(Europe). Problem is Apple's own store diagnostics validated batteries from throttled iphones. Reply
  • melgross - Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - link

    Better batteries than Android phones. Reply
  • id4andrei - Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - link

    Millions of iphone users walked and some keep walking around with throttled iphones. Let that sink in. Reply
  • Trackster11230 - Thursday, January 17, 2019 - link

    Based on the context of this thread, having a throttled SOC that's still well ahead of the competition would still provide a great experience. You dug yourself into a hole with that comment. Reply
  • Sailor23M - Thursday, January 24, 2019 - link

    “The” iphone :-) Reply
  • Solandri - Friday, February 15, 2019 - link

    What's interesting to me is that its performance per Watt seems to be pretty close to the A12. Which more or less confirms what I've suspected for a while - that a large part of the superior performance of the A12 is simply due to Apple getting priority at the newer 7nm fabs. While the A12 vs 845 comparison made chronological sense (in that both were available in phones at the same time), the A12 was 7nm while the 845 was 10nm. Reply
  • jonrevis1985 - Sunday, February 17, 2019 - link

    So true Oyeve, you could put a turbo charged v8 in a ford pinto but it will only ever be a pinto. Reply
  • goatfajitas - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Catch Apple, no. Alot of the performance is tight integration, not actual CPU speed. If Apple had used Qualcom Snapdragon and Android OEM's had the A12, Apple would still be faster at benchmarks. Take it all with a grain or 10 of salt. Reply
  • Ironchef3500 - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Very true Reply

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