Final Thoughts

2018 has been a very successful year for Qualcomm and the Snapdragon 845. The company had provided an extremely solid and well-rounded SoC for device vendors to build their flagship devices on- and by the looks of it the Snapdragon 855 continues this trend.

I’ve been a bit sceptical about the merits of Qualcomm’s 1+3 CPU configuration, however after seeing the preliminary performance and power efficiency figures of the new prime core on the new chipset, I’m not nearly as concerned. We reserve any final verdict for when we will have tested final commercial devices, as that’s where in the end we’ll also see the efficiency effect of the non-prime cores, and how they’ll position themselves against the competition.

Performance wise, the Snapdragon 855 is a bit odd. In steady-state workloads like SPEC the chipset is seemingly performing very well and matches or exceeds the new Kirin 980. Here Qualcomm’s changes to the CPU microarchitecture might even actually be visible in the test results, which is a nice feat. Unfortunately the memory subsystem still seems to include some of DRAM latency regressions that we also saw in the Snapdragon 845, both which are due to Qualcomm’s system level cache.

Real-world performance, while still excellent, doesn’t quite manage to reach my expectations I had for the chipset. Here for whatever reason, the chip’s improvements are not nearly as pronounced as in the more synthetic tests. Again the odd thing is that the Kirin 980 still manages to beat the Snapdragon 855 in near most of these workloads. Qualcomm had reasoned that the microarchitectural changes to the CPU were meant to help web browser performance, yet it’s here where the chip slightly lags behind the competition – I do wonder if this is a case of the CPU again being limited by either Qualcomm’s choice of more conservative caches or due to the latency penalty of the system cache.

Although the performance shown today is exemplary, it still does look maybe a little rough around the edges in some of our system performance tests – here maybe Qualcomm will be able to investigate and further improve things until we actually see commercial devices.

Whether the system performance will be improved in final devices or not, what is clear though is that power efficiency looks outstanding. Qualcomm had me worried as the PR teams had avoided talking about efficiency during the chipset’s launch, but the results today (even if they’ll need to be verified), look very promising and should result in notable battery life improvements in 2019’s devices.

On the GPU side of things, Qualcomm’s more muted performance projections of 20% were because the company has again focused a good part of the process improvements into bringing the overall power back down from the usually higher levels that we saw on the Snapdragon 845.

Overall – the Snapdragon 855 looks to be another extremely well executed SoC from Qualcomm, and I’m looking forward to validating the results and testing out the first commercial devices once they become available.

GPU Performance - Returning To Lower Power


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  • cknobman - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    So better power consumption but performance wise it looks like a swing and a miss.
    Nothing too meaningful over the 845.
  • IGTrading - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    To be honest, this is good enough for me and most of us.

    I'd be happy to see Qualcomm focusing more on server CPUs and computers/notebook running Windows on AMR chips.

    It's been something like 15 or even 20 years since coders/developers stopped worrying about optimizations, performance improvements and now they only rely on the much improvement hardware being available year after year.

    We were building optimized web pages 20 years ago, that looked good and loaded in less than 10 seconds on a 5,6 KB connection.

    Now idiots build sites where the Home Page is 300 MB heavy and complain about mobile CPUs and mobile networks not being fast enough.
  • bji - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    "t's been something like 15 or even 20 years since coders/developers stopped worrying about optimizations, performance improvements and now they only rely on the much improvement hardware being available year after year."

    Speaking as a software developer, I will say that your statement is bullshit. I have yet to work on any product where performance wasn't considered and efforts to improve efficiency and performance weren't made.
  • bji - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    Also everything your browser does now is 10,000 times more complicated than anything that browsers did 20 years ago. All of the effort that has gone into developing these technologies didn't go nowhere. You are just making false equivalencies.

    And if a page took 5 seconds to load in 2019, let alone 10 seconds, you'd be screaming about how terrible the experience is.
  • name99 - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    It's usually the case that people talking confidently about what computers were like 20 yrs ago (especially how they were faster than today...) are in the age range from not yet born to barely five years old at the relevant time.

    Those of us who lived through those years (and better yet, who still own machines from those years) have a rather more realistic view.
  • rrinker - Wednesday, January 16, 2019 - link

    Really? What's the 'realistic' view? For background, the first computer I had regular access to was a TRS-80 Model 1 when they first came out in 1977, so I've been doing this a LONG time. Software today is a bloated mess. It's not all the programmers' fault though, there is this pressing need for more and more features in each new version - features that you're lucky if 1% of the users actually even utilize. Web pages now auto start videos on load and also link a dozen ads from sites with questionable response times. That would have been unthinkable in the days 56k and slower dialup, and it just wasn't done. I even optimized my BBS in college - on campus we had (for the time) blazing fast 19.2k connections between all dorm rooms and the computing center, at a time when most people were lucky to have a 1200bps modem, and the really lucky ones had the new 2400s. So I set up my animated ANSI graphic signons in a way that on campus users at 19.2k would get the full experience and off campus users, connecting via the bank of 1200 baud modems we had, would get a simple plain text login. In today's world, there is a much grater speed disparity in internet connections. I have no problem with pretty much any site - but I have over 250mbps download on my home connection. Go visit family across the state - the best they can get a a DSL connection that nets about 500k on a good day on a speed test - and so many sites fail to load, or only ever partially load. But there are plenty of sites that don;t try to force graphics and videos down your throat that still work fine.
    No, things weren't faster back in the day - but because the resources were more limited, both for apps running on the local computer in terms of RAM, storage, and video performance as well as external connectivity, programs had to be more efficient. Heck, the first computer I actually owned had a whole 256 bytes of RAM - to do anything I had to be VERY efficient.
  • Klinky1984 - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    So pay per minute slow internet, the non-standard compliance of Netscape 2.0 and IE 3.0, an internet without any video streaming, were there "good ol days"? Sorry but I remember bloated pages that took a minute plus to download or never loaded. I remember waiting 3 minutes for one single high res jpeg to download... They were not glory days. Can your 256 byte computer even handle Unicode? No way. Reply
  • seamadan - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - link

    I bet your pages looked REALLY good. Like REALLY REALLY good. I'm in awe and I haven't even seen them Reply
  • Krysto - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    That bold has sailed. They've already given all the server IP on a silver platter to their forced Chinese "partner".

    That said, Snapdragon 8cx for notebooks does look quite intriguing, mainly because of its 10MB shared cache.
  • Krysto - Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - link

    boat* Reply

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