UHD Premium Video Recording Brings Lifelike Colors to Snapdragon 845 Devices
As display densities approach an inflection point, companies have started looking for new ways to improve image quality — specifically in the areas of color space, contrast ratios, and high dynamic range (HDR). With the announcement of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and the Spectra 280 Image Signal Processor (ISP) at the Snapdragon Technology Summit on Wednesday, Qualcomm is taking the next leap forward in HDR support.
Over the past several years, Qualcomm has paved the way when it comes to smartphone video. From its pioneering implementation of 4K recording on the Snapdragon 800, to their implementation of advanced video codecs like HEVC and VP9, to the Snapdragon 835’s Ultra HD Premium (UHD Premium) playback certification, the San Jose, California-based chipmaker has consistently broken new ground and forged new paths, and the Snapdragon 845 is no different. It is the world’s first SoC to support UHD Premium HDR video recording and playback at 60 frames per second.
Just what’s so special about Ultra HD Premium? Essentially, it is a 4K HDR standard (defined by the UHD Alliance) that specifies the ultra-wide color gamut and bit depth of certified displays. UHD Premium requires 10 bits per channel color (30 bits per pixel) — which is otherwise known as deep color. That means you get 1024 shades of each primary color to work with for a total of 1.07 billion colors, which is a 64 times the 16.7 million colors that your average 8 bit per channel computer monitor or TV can display. Simply put, the wider color gamut delivers noticeably more detail, all but eliminating artifacts like color banding in photos and videos.
That increased bit depth allows UHD Premium to take advantages of an even more important feature; wide-gamut color. Historically, most TVs, computer monitors, and smartphone displays have targeted the sRGB color space (and the comparable ITU-R Rec. 709 color space), which only covers around 35.9 percent of the visible spectrum (as represented by the CIE XYZ color space). This leaves monitors unable to reproduce a substantial portion of the colours we are able to see. UHD Premium devices are required to record or display color in the ITU-R Rec. 2020 color space, which covers a stunning 75.8 percent of CIE XYZ colors. This is accomplished while simultaneously providing higher granularity in the traditional color range than 8 bit sRGB thanks to the drastically increased color shades that 10 bit video is capable of displaying. Since Rec. 2020 is a full superset of the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 color spaces, which span 52.1 percent and 53.6 percent of CIE XYZ respectively, video recorded targeting the Rec. 2020 color space will be able to be converted to Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, and sRGB for viewing on legacy devices.
UHD Premium results in a much more immersive viewing experience than the 8-bit color gamuts most of us are used to, and all Snapdragon 845-based devices will, in theory, be able to take full advantage.
Arguably the best part of Qualcomm UHD Premium video recording is the sheer number of devices that will be able to view the videos right away. Only smartphones and tablets with the Snapdragon 845 will be able to capture UHD Premium video right away, but the massive push for HDR capable displays over the last couple years has resulted in hundreds of millions of devices on the market that can play UHD Premium content.
Thanks to the extensive software development work done by Qualcomm and their partners, you will be able to record UHD Premium video on a Snapdragon 845-based device, and share it through platforms like YouTube. If those friends have a phone, laptop, or TV that supports UHD Premium playback, they’ll be able to take full advantage of the expanded color space right away. But even if their devices don’t support UHD Premium, they’ll still be able to view the content just fine. Applications like YouTube and Netflix have already integrated the ability to convert content to the appropriate colour space for viewing on the device, silently avoiding the issues that come with non-color space aware devices.
UHD Premium video recording is one of the most significant advancements brought by the Qualcomm Spectra 280. It’s a major win for Qualcomm, and a step forward for the smartphone industry as a whole.
What do you think of the improvements coming to the second-generation Spectra ISP? Sound off in the comments!