Snapdragon 850 for Windows 10 ARM PCs introduced by Qualcomm

On Monday, Qualcomm introduced a new version of their mobile platform for Windows on ARM PCs, the Snapdragon 850. This replaces the Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC platform used in the initial set of always connected Windows ARM devices. The 850 includes a number of enhancements, with Gigabit LTE download speeds via their X20 modem being featured. In terms of battery life, Qualcomm is claiming 25 hours of video playback or multi-day life under normal usage scenarios. We’ll have to wait for devices to be released to see if those claims hold up under real-life usage.

The Snapdragon 850 Mobile PC platform essentially seems to be a modified version of the Snapdragon 845, as the architecture and many of the features carry over from the platform used in mobile phones. The 8 Kryo 385 CPU cores are similar, though they get a slight speed bump from 2.8GHz to 2.96GHz. It’s worth noting that Anandtech compared the SD845 (with Kryo 385 cores) against the SD835 (Kryo 285 cores) and measured a performance improvement of 20-40% in integer tests using Geekbench 4, and a more significant 40-60% increase floating point scores.  The SD850 will have an additional benefit of a 6% clock speed increase. This means that Windows ARM PCs based on the SD850 should see a pretty significant performance improvement over the first-generation devices. The likely release of a new iPad Pro in late 2018 should make for interesting performance comparisons.

The SD850 uses the same Adreno 630 GPU as the 845, though strangely some of the supported media playback and encoding specs appear to have regressed. The 845 lists slow-mo HEVC encoding for 1080p FHD video at 240fps, while the 850 appears to support 120fps. The 845 also lists 4K playback and encoding at 60fps while the 850 is listed as supporting 30fps 4K. The blog post from Qualcomm says 60fps 4K, so these “regressions” may just be mistakes on their specs page. They do not appear to be providing clock speeds on the GPU at this time.

The X20 LTE modem in the SD850 is shared with the 845, a minor improvement in upload and download speeds from the X16 in the SD835. The SD850 also supports 802.11ad 60GHz short range Wi-Fi in addition to more common 802.11ac.

The Snapdragon 850 also supports the new QuickCharge 4+ proprietary charging methodology. This includes three additional features that hardware OEMs supporting QuickCharge 4 can include to get the 4+ designation. These are:

– Dual Charge: splitting the charge current to lower temps while charging
– Intelligent Thermal Balancing: adjusting the charging load based on temp via the dual paths provided by Dual Charge
– Advanced Safety Features: monitoring the case and connector temps

It appears that devices using the SD835 and newer can get the 4+ designation.

According to Qualcomm, Windows devices using the Snapdragon 850 will be available in the second half of 2018.

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