Qualcomm – the giant in the mobile processor manufacturing industry, has recently announced its upcoming processor ‘Snapdragon 636’ – a new version of the company’s popular Snapdragon SoC (system-on-a-chip) which will offer improved performance, enhanced gaming experience and better display technology support for mid-range smartphones. The Snapdragon 636 will serve users who demand high-quality devices with top-level features at a low price point.
An SoC includes CPU and GPU, and usually other components like a modem and image signal processor. Qualcomm Snapdragon parts include all these and more. The nature of the CPU cores varies a lot from one design to the next. Most of the midrange and budget chips from Qualcomm use ARM reference designs known as Cortex, but the company also has much better custom ARM-compatible cores called Kryo. The Snapdragon 636 will be one of the first budget SoCs from Qualcomm to have the Kryo cores built-in. With Qualcomm Kryo 260 CPU it will offer 40% faster performance over Snapdragon 630. To support modern smartphone design trends, Qualcomm has added support for ultra-wide FHD+ displays and Assertive Display, which optimizes the visibility of the display in all lighting conditions.
The 636 is an update of the 630, which has eight Cortex-A53 CPU cores. Those are the current-gen low-power core from ARM. The 636 will have eight Kryo 260 cores in two four-core clusters. The GPU has been bumped to an Adreno 509, which is only slightly better than the 508 in the 630. The GPU is designed to support 18:9 screens, which are very fashionable right now, but the resolution tops out at FHD+ (around 2160×1080). Phones like the Galaxy Note 8, Pixel 2 XL, and Mate 10 Pro all have screens with taller aspect ratios than the usual 16:9. This shape allows the display to more efficiently fill the front of a device. Seeing this in more midrange phones would be a cool development.
The 636 has the same X12 LTE modem which is capable of 600Mbps data speeds, not that carriers can offer you that much bandwidth yet. LTE modems can be a little boring, but the high quality of Qualcomm’s modems is why it’s one of the largest chip makers right now. The Image Signal Processor (ISP) is unchanged from the 630 as well. It’s the Spectra 160, with support for 24MP cameras, various customizable capture features and the Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec supports Hi-Fi audio. The actual implementation of cameras is up to device makers, though.
The Snapdragon 636 mobile platform will be available from November 2017.