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Qualcomm Snapdragon 700: a new SoC for the upper mid-range

Qualcomm is expanding its mobile platform portfolio with another series. Between the current mid-range Snapdragon 660 chip and the high-end Snapdragon 845 chip, Qualcomm is introducing the new 700 series of high-end SoC chips. All the information about the new mobile platform and why Qualcomm is now launching a fourth series can be found in this article.

The gap between the upper mid-range smartphones and the top smartphones has increased recently. While smartphones with SoCs such as the Snapdragon 660 like the Nokia 7 Plus cost just under $400, smartphones with the Snapdragon 845 are traded at just under $800. Qualcomm seems to see enough room here to establish a new series between the current fastest mid-range SoC, the Snapdragon 660, and the top-of-the-range 845. Qualcomm is accordingly naming the new upper mid-range series the Snapdragon 700.

Qualcomm today introduces the 700 series, but for the time being it consists only of a single SoC, the Snapdragon 710, which is a Snapdragon 845 with a handbrake on, because many features are borrowed from the top model. Starting with the 10nm production structure, through the integrated DSP to QuickCharge 4+. But the biggest difference lies in the CPU part of the SoC.

Although the Snapdragon 710 is an Octa-Core processor like the 845, the division between the high-performance cores running at maximum clock speed and the cores trimmed for energy efficiency is a novelty. With the 710, six of the eight Kyro 360 cores are trimmed for efficiency and are therefore active during normal use of the smartphone. The two performance cores only switch on in compute-intensive applications. Previously, the rule was 4 to 4 for eight-core processors.

SD710 Kyro 360 CPU
Snapdragon 710 uses two high-performance CPUs and six cores trimmed for efficiency. / © Qualcomm

Of course, there are even more differences between the current SoCs in Qualcomm's portfolio. The most important features between the Snapdragon 660, 710 and 845 are listed in a table below.

Snapdragon 660 vs Snapdragon 710 vs Snapdragon 845

Snapdragon 660 Snapdragon 710 Snapdragon 845
14 nm 10 nm 10 nm
Kyro 260 Kyro 360  Kyro 385

X12, 3x CA, 600 Mbps DL

X15, 3x CA, 800 Mbps DL X20, 5x CA, 1,2 Gbps DL
802.11ac, 2x2 MIMO 802.11 ac, 2x2 MIMO 802.11 ad, 2x2 MIMO
Adreno 512 Adreno 616 Adreno 630
Spectra 160 Spectra 250 Spectra 280
Hexagon 680 Hexagon 685 Hexagon 685
QHD, 8 Layer QHD+ 10 Layer, 4K HDR Playback Ultra HD Premium
QuickCharge 4+ QuickCharge 4+ QuickCharge 4+

Depending on the area of application, the mobile 710 platform should be between 15 - 25 percent faster than the Snapdragon 660, the fastest midrange chip to date, while the 710 should also be between 20 and 40 percent more efficient, depending on the application. Qualcomm also highlights Machine Learning, or AI, on the 700 Series. Just like the Snapdragon 845 and 660, however, there is no dedicated computing unit, but the calculations are distributed over CPU, GPU and DSP.

Snapdragon 710 Ai
Like the Snapdragon 845, the 710 is also ready for "AI". / © Qualcomm

Snapdragon 700: defective Snapdragon 845s? 

For the production of the Snapdragon 710, Qualcomm is back with Samsung, where the Snapdragon 845 is already rolling off the production line. Why Samsung? The question is relatively easy to answer. The factories are already producing Snapdragon 700s—by accident.

Basically, the 700 series are faulty Snapdragon 845 processors. This is also no problem or cause for concern, because this procedure is normal in semiconductor production. In order to produce efficiently, the manufacturer will try to achieve the best result during production, but even flawed products are valuable.

Put simply: Qualcomm's goal is to achieve the maximum 845 yield in the production of a wafer. But there are "rejects" with minor defects. For example, a CPU core might not reach the maximum clock rate, but is absolutely functional except for this flaw, so you can sell it as an SoC with lower specifications.

Snapdragon 710 soc 1
The Snapdragon 710 has more common ground with the 845 than with the 660. / © Qualcomm

In the case of Snapdragon 845 scrap, Qualcomm had the choice of placing it as a new 600 or creating a new series. The last step was logical, because the production structure and features were too far above the 600 series. This is how the Snapdragon 710 was born.  

Which smartphones and tablets will use the Snapdragon 710?

So far, Qualcomm has not named an OEM that will use the Snapdragon 710 in its future smartphones. The US chip manufacturer leaves this to its partners and their schedules for product announcements. But what is already clear is that if a smartphone manufacturer decides in favor of the Snapdragon 710 and launches a product on the market, the price will probably be between $500 - 600.

What do you think of Qualcomm's new SoC? Is it still relevant today which manufacturer the chip comes from and what features it has? Tell us what you think in the comments. 

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