Snapdragon is a family of mobile systems on a chip (SoC) by Qualcomm. Qualcomm considers Snapdragon a “platform” for use in smartphones, tablets, and smartbook devices. The original Snapdragon CPU, dubbed Scorpion, is Qualcomm’s own design. It has many features similar to those of the ARM Cortex-A8 core and it is based on the ARMv7 instruction set, but theoretically has much higher performance for multimedia-related SIMD operations. The successor to Scorpion, found in S4 Snapdragon SoCs, is named Krait and has many similarities with the ARM Cortex-A15 CPU and is also based on the ARMv7 instruction set. The majority of Snapdragon processors contain the circuitry to decode high-definition video (HD) resolution at 720p or 1080p depending on the Snapdragon chip. Adreno, the company’s proprietary GPU series, integrated into Snapdragon chips (and certain other Qualcomm chips) is Qualcomm’s own design, using assets the company acquired from AMD. The Adreno 225 GPU in Snapdragon S4 SoCs adds support for DirectX 9/Shader Model 3.0, which makes it compatible with Microsoft’s Windows 8. All Snapdragons feature one or more DSPs called Hexagon, short QDSP5 or QDSP6 in the modem and multimedia parts. In the Snapdragon 200–800 series, one of the multimedia Hexagons is programmable by the users through the Hexagon SDK. The multimedia Hexagons are mostly used for audio encoding/decoding, the newer Snapdragons have a hardware block called Venus for video encoding/decoding. Compared to systems on chips from many competitors, Snapdragon SoCs have been unique in that they have had the modem for cellular communication on-die. That is, they do not require an external cellular modem on the PCB. Since Snapdragon S4, the majority of S4 SoCs also features on-die Wi-Fi, GPS/GLONASS and Bluetooth basebands. This integration reduces the complexity and cost of the final design for the OEM. It also has the advantage of benefiting from advances in the manufacturing process, for example 28 nm in most S4 SoCs, thus providing modems and other dedicated circuitry with lower power characteristics than external chips manufactured with older processes. At MWC 2015 in Barcelona, Qualcomm announced the new Snapdragon 820, to be available for sampling in H2 2016, with its brand new Kryo CPU. It is expected to show up in smartphones by 2016.

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