The Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 is a chip for Always-On Windows 10 on ARM laptops

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 is a chip for Always-On Windows 10 on ARM laptops

Qualcomm has been the leading chip maker for mobile devices for some time. As Windows transitions more to hybrid and convertible devices, Microsoft has worked on adding ARM chip support. Qualcomm is now ready to show off the Snapdragon 850, a chip made specifically for modern Windows 10 on ARM devices.

The easiest way to describe the Snapdragon 850 is to think of it as the Snapdragon 845 for laptops/tablets. The 850 is the successor to the first generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC System. Here are the highlights that Qualcomm mentions:

  • Always on, always connected
  • Beyond all-day battery life
  • Sleek, innovative designs
  • Windows 10

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 for Windows 10 on ARM

The “always connected” feature is something Qualcomm is really focusing on. The company stated that Gigabit LTE is now possible for 90% of global operators, and according to QTI Research consumer demand for Gigabit LTE has grown from 38% in 2017 to 60% in 2018.  To meet these demands, the Snapdragon 850 and its X20 LTE modem support second-gen Gigabit LTE speeds of 1.2Gbps, and devices featuring the chipset can reportedly attain 20+ hours of multi-day battery life. The 850 chip has much higher TDP and clock speeds than you would find on a smartphone. A phone will hover around 2.5W TDP while a PC can go up to 5W. The Kryo 385 CPU is clocked at 2.96 GHz, while the Snapdragon 835 was clocked at 2.6GHz. The results of the improvements are 30% better performance, 20% increase in battery life, and 20% faster Gigabit LTE speeds. In addition, the Snapdragon 850 includes the same Hexagon 685 DSP as the Snapdragon 845, with its Hexagon Vector Extensions (HVX) for machine learning workloads.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 for Windows 10 on ARM

The Windows 10 April Update included more support for ARM systems. The Snapdragon 850 and the April update will enable Windows 10 on ARM devices to use the 64-bit Edge browser, have increased app compatibility, the performance improvements, 30% increase in graphics, HDR support, HiFi audio, and native ARM64 apps. Devices featuring the Snapdragon 850 will also benefit from Qualcomm Aqstic & Qualcomm aptX HD audio for higher-fidelity sound through both wired (3.5mm and Type-C) and wireless connections. Support for UltraHD Premium video playback is also a great perk considering the larger form factor this chipset targets.

The Snapdragon 850 is built on the 10nm process just like the Snapdragon 835. Qualcomm is hoping this new chip will power the new generation of mobile, always connected PC devices. Smartphones are typically powered on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Always there giving us notifications at a glance. People don’t think about computers in the same way, but Qualcomm and Microsoft are hoping to change that. The Snapdragon 850 should bring some of the features we take for granted in smartphones over to the PC. Qualcomm expects Windows 10 devices powered by the 850 to be available later this year.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 Mobile Compute Platform Specs

Cellular Modem Qualcomm Snapdragon X20 LTE modem
  • Peak Download Speed: 1.2 Gbps
  • Peak Upload Speed:150 Mbps
CPU Qualcomm Kryo 385 built on Arm® Cortex™ technology
  • CPU Clock Speed:Up to 2.96 GHz
  • CPU Cores:8 x Kryo 385 CPU
Adreno Subsystem Qualcomm Adreno 630 Visual Processing Subsystem
  • Open GL ES 3.2, Open CL 2.0, Vulkan, DirectX 12
  • Ultra HD Premium video playback and encoding @ 4K (3840×2160) 30fps
  • Slow motion HEVC video encoding of FHD (1080p) up to 120fps
  • H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), VP9, DisplayPort over USB Type-C support
DSP Qualcomm Hexagon685 DSP
  • Hexagon Vector DSP (HVX)
  • Hexagon Scalar DSP (Audio)
  • Hexagon All-Ways Aware Hub (Sensor)
Camera Qualcomm Spectra 280 Image Signal Processor
  • New architecture for 14-bit image signal processing, with support for up to:
  • Single HFR 16 MPix camera at 60fps ZSL
  • Dual 16 MPix cameras at 30fps ZSL
  • Single 32 MPix camera at 30fps ZSL
  • Multi-frame Noise Reduction (MFNR) with accelerated image stabilization
  • Hybrid Autofocus with support for dual phase detection (2PD) sensors
  • Ultra HD Premium video capture @ 4K (3840×2160) 30fps
Security Support
  • Qualcomm Processor Security
  • Qualcomm Mobile Security
  • Qualcomm Content Protection
WiFi Qualcomm Wi-Fi 802.11ad Multi-gigabit
  • Qualcomm Wi-Fi 802.11ad Multi-gigabit
  • Wi-Fi integrated 802.11ac 2×2 with MU-MIMO
  • 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 60 GHz
  • Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec and speaker amplifier
  • Qualcomm aptX audio playback with support for aptX Classic and HD
  • Native DSD support, PCM up to 384kHz/32bit
  • TruSignal adaptive antenna tuning
  • High-power transmit (HPUE)
  • Bluetooth 5
  • Qualcomm TrueWireless
  • Qualcomm Location
  • Support for 6 satellite systems: GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS, SBAS
  • Low Power Geofencing and Tracking, Sensor-assisted Navigation
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 4+ technology

About author

Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa

Former Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Lover of all things with displays.

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