Just one month before the end of 2018, Qualcomm has finally officially launched its new flagship processor, the Snapdragon 855. Of course, the comparisons were not long in coming because the quartet of those who will be the heart of the best smartphones of 2019 finally has been completed. Today we will only do a comparison of the most competitive: Snapdragon 855 VS Kirin 980 VS Exynos 9820.
As always, the new chips come with performance improvements for the CPU and the GPU. In particular, they will focus on the artificial intelligence processing capabilities built into the new chip model, along with the ability to connect higher networks from 4G LTE or even 5G. To understand the power of the “smartphones” next year, let’s review some of the configuration information for these three chips.
Huawei launched the first chip with 7nm architecture with the Kirin 980. This was the start of an exhaustive race because, in theory, this forced Qualcomm to announce that they would build a new chip in the 7nm process of TSMC. However, Samsung did not give in to the pressure and launched its Exynos 9820 with an 8nm lithography. Even so, we all know that the tech race is becoming increasingly intense, as companies have to find a new solution for energy efficiency and maximize the power of the processor.
The Snapdragon 855 uses a Kryo 485 CPU based on a semi-custom ARM Cortex technology: one Cortex A76 core at 2.84GHz, three Cortex-A76 cores at 2.42GHz and four Cortex-A55 cores at 1.8GHz. This can achieve up to 45% improvement in performance compared to the flagship platform of the previous generation. The Kirin 980 chipset is the first based in Cortex-A76 (2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.6GHz, 2x Cortex-A76 @ 1.92GHz, 4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz) in the world and had a 75% improvement in single core performance.
On the other hand, the Exynos 9820 is equipped by a 4th generation’s custom CPU. This includes an innovative tri-cluster architecture delivers a premium processing power. The CPU consists of two custom cores for ultimate processing power, two Cortex-A75 cores for optimal performance, and four Cortex-A55 cores for greater efficiency.
In terms of AI, the Kirin 980 can quickly adapt to AI scenes such as face recognition, object recognition, object detection, image segmentation and intelligent translation with the power of a dual-core NPU achieving 4500 images per minute which is an improved 120% recognition speed. However, the Exynos 9820 has an integrated one Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that allows the processor to perform AI-related functions seven times faster. It improves photos with advanced AR features, so the Exynos 9820 with NPU expands AI.
The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor includes the Hexagon 690, a new accelerator of hexagonal tensioners (HTA) and four hexagonal vector extensions (HVX). It duplicates vector processing and adds a four-wire scalar core that combines programmable and patented AI acceleration.
In a comparison of AnTuTu benchmark score, the Snapdragon 855 was the winner with a score of 343051, followed by Exynos 9820 (325067) and Kirin 980 (309425), respectively. In the CPU performance, the Snapdragon 855 is also the best, which is followed by the Kirin 980. And finally, the GPU performance also is the best in the Snapdragon 855, followed by the Exynos 9820.
The new Qualcomm Adreno 640 GPU present in the Snapdragon 855 offers graphics processing speeds up to 20% faster compared to previous generations while maintaining the industry-leading performance per watt. Equipped with Mali-G76 MP12 GPU, the Exynos 9820 delivers one of the ultimate gaming experience. The GPU features wider execution engines with double the number of lanes, resulting in better performance and efficiency for graphics. Of course, this version is above the Mali-G76 MP10 GPU includes in the Kirin 980, although it has a improved performance by 46% compared to previous generations.
The three new processors are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Samsung and Qualcomm are taking advantage of network connectivity with the 2Gbps LTE chips for better connectivity than the Kirin 980 which has 1.4Gbps connection speed. The Snapdragon 855 supports 4G Gigabit connectivity through an integrated Opteron X24 LTE modem. This can be compared to the Exynos 9820 which integrated modem supports LTE Category 20 to offer downlink great speed with 8x carrier aggregation (CA). But the Kirin 980, the first to support LTE Cat.21, has a low connection speed.
Multimedia support is also prominent in the new generation of chips, being compatible with HDR and content up to 8K resolution but those are included only in the Exynos 9820 and Snapdragon 855. The Kirin 980 is again sidelined with a video capture and playback only in 4K. The Snapdragon 855 is also compatible with H.265 and VP9 for better performance.
Also, the only compatible with the 5G network connection is the Snapdragon 855 but there is no out-of-the-box 5G chip on the market yet, a feature which is the most expected in the 2019 smartphone model. However, the new connectivity technology can still be supported through external modems.
The Kirin 980 has the fourth-generation ISP and utilizes a multi-pass noise reduction to capture quality images and preserve important details. This ISP also has a dedicated video pipeline to effectively improve video clarity and reduce shooting delays by 33%. The Exynos 9820’s advanced ISP supports up to five sensors, including an IR sensor, to enable flexible multi-camera solutions. For the last, but not less important, the new Qualcomm Spectra 380 ISP integrates a large number of hardware-accelerated computer vision (CV) capabilities, enabling the world’s first CV-ISP to support state-of-the-art computational photography and video capture.
In this comparison of the Snapdragon 855 vs Kirin 980 vs Exynos 9820, the Snapdragon 855 slight as the winner, but not stand out too much. It is the winner simply because it will make its way to a majority of smartphones premium, and most important, in theoric, it is the first to support the 5G spectrum. In addition, although the Kirin 980 was launched less than 6 months ago, both Samsung and Qualcomm have tried to surpass it and in a certain way, they have done it in some sections.