The Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 will impact smartphone cameras

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Although the announcement of a new cutting edge Snapdragon processor for 2014 phones to use is only of tangential interest to AAS readers and only of interest to AAWP readers thinking about an upgrade in a year's time, some of the specications of the Snapdragon 805 chipset are worth quoting, since they address a very specific issue with smartphone imaging.

From the Qualcomm press release:

Qualcomm has introduced the next generation mobile processor of the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800 tier, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, which is designed to deliver the highest-quality mobile video, imaging and graphics experiences at Ultra HD (4K) resolution, both on device and via Ultra HD TVs. Featuring the new Adreno 420 GPU, with up to 40 percent more graphics processing power than its predecessor, the Snapdragon 805 processor is the first mobile processor to offer system-level Ultra HD support, 4K video capture and playback and enhanced dual camera Image Signal Processors (ISPs), for superior performance, multitasking, power efficiency and mobile user experiences.

Snapdragon 805

Key features of the Snapdragon 805 include:

  • Krait 450 quad-core CPU, the first mobile CPU to run at speeds of up to 2.5 GHz per core, plus memory bandwidth support of up to 25.6 GB/second that is designed to provide unprecedented multimedia and web browsing performance.
  • Support  for Ultra HD resolution thanks to the inclusion of the new Adreno 420 GPU, which introduces support for hardware tessellation and geometry shaders, for advanced 4K rendering.
  • Fast, seamless connected mobile experiences: Custom, efficient integration with either the Qualcomm Gobi MDM9x25 or the Gobi MDM9x35 modem. 
  • Ability to stream more video content at higher quality using less power, with support for Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) for video post processing and hardware 4K HEVC (H.265) decode for mobile.
  • Support for sharper, higher resolution photos in low light and advanced post-processing features. First Gpixel/s throughput camera support in a mobile processor designed for a significant increase in camera speed and imaging quality. Sensor processing with gyro integration enables image stabilization for sharper, crisper photos.

Quite apart from the overall boost in speed for late 2014 smartphones, the sheer power on offer should significantly help bring down shot to shot times on large-sensored camera-centric devices following on from Nokia's Lumia 1020. 

As a guide, the 2012 Symbian-powered Nokia 808 PureView, which debuted the 41 megapixel oversampling camera, boasted a shot to shot time of well under a second, thanks to a custom Toshiba image processor that had a throughput (famously) of over a billion pixels per second. 

The blazingly fast but hand-rolled custom solution in the Nokia 808 was obviously not very scaleable or, indeed, portable to other platforms, so in contrast, the Windows Phone-powered Lumia 1020 handles the oversampling from the 41 megapixel sensor in its main Snapdragon S4 chipset, resulting in a much slower shot to shot time, of around four seconds.

Four seconds is obviously too slow for casual photography (though the default Camera application, much faster [though lower quality], also ships in each Windows Phone) and the appearance of the Snapdragon 805 chipset, with the same billion pixels per second throughput as the custom chip in the Nokia 808, could mean a Lumia 1020 successor with 41 megapixel sensor and oversampling with a shot to shot time that's a lot more competitive, down to under a second again.

The Snapdragon 805 processor is sampling now and expected to be available in commercial devices during the middle of 2014.

Source / Credit: Qualcomm