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Qualcomm relents, announces the eight-core 64-bit Snapdragon 615

Qualcomm is targeting the Chinese market with the eight-core 64-bit Snapdragon 615 and Snapdragon 610.


After sticking to its “faster cores instead of more cores” strategy all of last year, Qualcomm has finally decided it would be best to launch a SoC with an octa-core CPU.

Qualcomm is introducing two new SoCs, the Snapdragon 610 and the Snapdragon 615. The Snapdragon 610 comes with four ARM’s 64-bit Cortex A53 cores, while the Snapdragon 615 has eight Cortex A53 cores. Qualcomm has mentioned that all eight cores can be active at the same time should the need arise for it.

While other manufacturers like Samsung and MediaTek have octa-core offerings, they generally used two different cores in a 4+4 configuration that allowed them to maximize energy efficiency. Qualcomm meanwhile is using eight Cortex A53 cores in the Snapdragon 615. It is likely that four of these cores will be underclocked to run lesser intensive workloads. The Cortex A53 is a revision of the Cortex A7 core with 64-bit support and better energy efficiency. It isn’t as fast as the cortex A58, which is a revision of the Cortex A15. It is likely that Qualcomm will launch a high-end SoC that has a derivative of the Cortex A58 core later this year.

Furthermore, Qualcomm is using stock ARM cores rather than customizing the clocks, as it usually does with its Krait line of CPUs.  Both SoCs come with Qualcomm’s Adreno 405 GPU that features DirectX 11.2, OpenGL ES 3.0 and H.265 video decoding. They also feature a Gobi 9×25 series LTE Category 4 modem that uses carrier aggregation techniques to deliver more bandwidth. In addition, there is 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity and backward compatibility with HSPA+, CDMA, and TD-SCDMA networks.

Qualcomm clearly states that the decision to launch an eight-core processor is due to the market studies conducted in China, which concluded that Chinese customers wanted more cores “whether or not they make a big difference.” Qualcomm marketing VP Tim McDonough also stated that Chinese manufacturers wanted an eight-core solution. “They say the number of CPUs is important to them, which means it’s important to our OEMs, which means it’s important to us.”

It is clear that Qualcomm does not take the MediaTek threat lightly. MediaTek announced its first LTE enabled eight-core offering, the MT6595, earlier this month. Today it launched its first 65-bit SoC, the MT6372. With MediaTek making inroads into the mid-tier segment, Qualcomm is ensuring that it has products that challenge MediaTek in this segment. Both the Snapdragon 610 and Snapdragon 615 will be available to manufacturers in the third quarter, with consumer devices launching sometime in Q4.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda is an avid reader of science-fiction novels. A long-time Arsenal fan, his other interests include gaming, basketball and making music. He also likes tinkering with hardware in his free time.

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