The highly anticipated, heavily hyped, and long-rumored Snapdragon 845 processor was finally unveiled last December at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit in Hawaii. This new chipset is set to power the next generation of smartphones, and thus has drawn substantial attention from manufacturers, critics, and consumers alike.
However, we have only recently seen the results of public benchmarking tests, and these have shed a great deal of light on the new chip’s actual performance. Let’s see how the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform stacks up against its predecessor and against its major competitor, Huawei’s Kirin 970.
The 845 has been heavily promoted on the basis of its “new, innovative architectures for artificial intelligence and immersion”. How do these upgraded features leave the 845 in comparison to its predecessor, the 835?
As shown in the table above, the Snapdragon 845 uses the same 10-nanometer process as its last-gen platform. Its CPU, the Kryo 385, features eight cores — four big cores (so-called “performance” cores) and four little cores (“efficiency” cores) which offer a respective performance boost of 25–30% and 15% over the cores of the 835’s CPU. Qualcomm’s official announcement has also confirmed that the Snapdragon 845 scored much higher than its predecessor.
Artificial intelligence is unarguably the hottest new technology in modern processor design and manufacturing. So besides performance improvements, strengthened AI capability is what sets the Snapdragon 845 apart from its predecessor. While Apple’s and Huawei’s solutions involve the integration of an independent NPU (neural-network processing unit) into the chipset, Qualcomm uses a CPU, GPU, and DSP (digital signal processor) to collaboratively perform AI tasks. The Snapdragon 845 can process more than 300 images per minute, triple the performance of the 835.
However, on the topic of mobile artificial intelligence, we have to mention the world’s first and foremost AI chipset, the Kirin 970, released by Huawei last September. The Kirin 970 uses its built-in NPU to handle artificial intelligence, and is able to process over 2,000 images per minute. In an AI capability test performed using a widely used benchmarking software system, test runs were conducted on an array of different processors available on the market, including the Snapdragon 845 and the Kirin 970.
The Snapdragon 845 scored 199, putting it at number four, which is not bad, but certainly not as impressive as the transformative, breakthrough system was marketed as. In comparison, Huawei’s Kirin 970 received a score of 242, easily topping all of its competitors. The takeaway here: with an image processing speed of 300 per minute versus 2,000 per minute and an AI performance score of 199 versus one of 242, the Snapdragon 845 has been seriously outplayed by the Kirin 970 especially in terms of AI performance, and the Kirin 970 will be able to support more diverse and challenging AI applications and scenarios.