Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Benchmarks: Comparing the CPU, GPU, and AI Performance with the Kirin 980 and Snapdragon 845

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Benchmarks: Comparing the CPU, GPU, and AI Performance with the Kirin 980 and Snapdragon 845

2018 was an exciting year for smartphone enthusiasts. We saw the beginnings of nearly bezel-less designs, multi-camera innovations, computational photography techniques to make handheld long exposure practical, ridiculously fast wired charging, the reintroduction of wireless charging into the mainstream, and so much more. Android smartphones have so many features to differentiate them, but they’re all still powered by chipsets from either Qualcomm, HiSilicon, Samsung, or MediaTek. Most Android flagships in 2018 were powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, but in 2019 they’ll mostly be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855. Although the new Qualcomm mobile platform was announced back in December during the Snapdragon Tech Summit, Qualcomm waited until CES 2019 last week to let us benchmark the Snapdragon 855.

We expect that many of our readers are looking forward to these benchmark results. After all, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 will very likely be used in devices like the Google Pixel 4, LG G8, Samsung Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7, Xiaomi Mi 9, Sony Xperia XZ4, and much more. How will each of these devices handle graphically intensive mobile games? How quickly can these devices churn through AI workloads? How will these devices compare to smartphones powered by the Kirin 980 such as the Huawei Mate 20, Honor View 20, and upcoming Huawei P30? Although we can’t answer how an upcoming device with the Snapdragon 855 will perform in a game like PUBG Mobile or Fortnite, the benchmarks we’ve done should give you a good idea about how the new Snapdragon 855 compares in performance to the Snapdragon 845 and Kirin 980 platforms.

We would have tested the new Exynos 9820, but the Samsung Galaxy S10 isn’t available yet. We’ll have to wait until February for that.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Snapdragon 845, and Kirin 980 Specifications

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 HiSilicon Kirin 980
CPU 1 Kryo 485 ‘Prime’ (ARM Cortex-A76-based), up to 2.84GHz

3 Kryo 485 (ARM Cortex-A76-based), up to 2.42GHz

4 Kryo 385 (ARM Cortex-A55-based), up to 1.8GHz

45% Performance improvement over previous generation*

4 Kryo 385 (ARM Cortex-A75-based), up to 2.8GHz

4 Kryo 385 (ARM Cortex-A55-based), up to 1.8GHz

25% Performance improvement over previous generation*

2ARM Cortex-A76, up to 2.60GHz

2 ARM Cortex-A76, up to 1.92GHz

4 ARM Cortex-A55, up to 1.80GHz

GPU Adreno 640

20% Performance improvement over previous generation*

Adreno 630

25% Performance improvement over previous generation*

Mali-G76MP10
Memory 4x 16bit, 2133MHz LPDDR4X 4x 16-bit, 1866MHz LPDDR4X 4x 16-bit, LPDDR4X-4266
Manufacturing Process 7nm (TSMC) 10nm LPP (Samsung) 7nm (TSMC)

For a detailed overview of the HiSilicon Kirin 980, please read this article. For more details on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 mobile platform, read our first details article and our deep-dive article.


Quick Overview of the Benchmarks We Used

  • AnTuTu: This is a holistic benchmark. AnTuTu tests the CPU, GPU, and memory performance, while including both abstract tests and, as of late, relatable user experience simulations (for example, the subtest which involves scrolling through a ListView). The final score weights are according to the designer’s considerations.
  • GeekBench: A CPU-centric test that uses several computational workloads like compression, search, rendering, physics and ray tracing, HDR/blurring. Some memory workloads for latency and bandwidth are also included. The score breakdown gives specific metrics. The final score weights are according to the designer’s considerations.
  • GFXBench: Aims to simulate video game graphics rendering using the latest APIs. Lots of onscreen effects and high-quality textures. Newer tests use Vulkan while legacy tests use OpenGL ES 3.1. The metrics are frames during test and frames per second (the other number divided by the test length, essentially), both which are specific and not some weighted score, which is really useful.
  • Octane, Speedometer, Jetstream: Javascript, core language features and performance on various operations; Javascript math, crypto, and search performance.
  • 3DMark: An intensive graphics benchmark with tons of effects and physics that aims to stress the framerate a lot. The final score weights are according to the designer’s considerations (i.e. not FPS, etc.)
  • AImark (Ludashi)/AI BenchMark: Tests various artificial neural network (ANN) implementations. Essential operations include dot products and matrix multiplication and non-linearity functions. Parallelization is key and these benchmarks use the DSP (in particular, Hexagon Vector eXtensions [HVX] but not Tensor Accelerator).

Source links for each benchmark can be found at the end of the article.


Benchmark Results

Test Devices

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Reference Device
    • Android 9 Pie (Qualcomm customized AOSP software)
    • 6GB RAM LPDDR4X RAM
  • Google Pixel 3 XL (Qualcomm Snapdragon 845)
    • Android 9 Pie (Google Pixel OEM software with January 2019 security patch)
    • 4GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • Honor Magic 2 (HiSilicon Kirin 980)
    • Android 9 Pie (Magic UI 2.0/EMUI 9.0 OEM software with December 2018 security patch)
      • “Performance mode” in Battery settings was turned off
    • 8GB LPDDR4X RAM

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Version Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Average Reference Results***
AnTuTu 7.1.1* 360,346 360,409 336,467 352,407.3 359,000-360,500
GeekBench (Single-core) 4.3.0* 3,532 3,525 3,519 3,525.3 3,500-3,600
GeekBench (Multi-core) 4.3.0* 11,193 11,152 11,251 11,198.7 11,000-12,000
PCMark 2.0.3710* 8,907 8,957 8,832 8,898.7 9,000
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 4.0* 71 (4,408 frames) 71 (4,401 frames) 71 (4,396 frames) 71 71
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Car Chase Offscreen 4.0* 42 (2,496 frames) 42 (2,495 frames) 42 (2,487 frames) 42 42
GFxBench ES3.0 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 4.0* 102 (6,321 frames) 100 (6,207 frames) 102 (6,326 frames) 101.3 100-102
GFxBench ES2.0 1080 T-Rex Offscreen 4.0* 167 (9,353 frames) 167 (9,372 frames) 167 (9,353 frames) 167 167-168
3DMark 1.5.3074* 5,463 5,475 5,464 5,467.3 N/A
AI BenchMark 2.1.1* 26,989 26,296 ** 26,642.5 27,000
AImark 1.5* 2,740 2,734 ** 2,737 2,740
Octane 2.0 25,201 24,582 24,492 24,758.3 24,900-25,000
Speedometer 1.0 118.1 117.8 117.8 117.9 112-122
JetStream 1.1 116.1 115.9 115.6 115.9 116-117

*Qualcomm pre-installed several benchmarks on the Snapdragon 855 reference devices. These benchmarks were modified from the Play Store versions to not upload data to the cloud. Some of these benchmarks are out of date compared to the Play Store versions.

**Trial data could not be obtained due to limited time.

***Qualcomm provided us a set of expected benchmark scores based on their own testing. We used this for reference only. Qualcomm did not provide any reference results for 3DMark.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Version Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Average
AnTuTu 7.1.4 285,439 284,727 284,836 285,000.7
GeekBench (Single-core) 4.3.2 2,372 2,390 2,391 2,384.3
GeekBench (Multi-core) 4.3.2 8,328 8,333 8,292 8,317.7
PCMark 2.0.3716 9,055 9,074 9,122 9,083.7
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 5.0.0 61 (3,763 frames) 60 (3,746 frames) 60 (3,747 frames) 60.3
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Car Chase Offscreen 5.0.0 35 (2,079 frames) 35 (2,074 frames) 35 (2,073 frames) 35
GFxBench ES3.0 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 5.0.0 83 (5,174 frames) 83 (5,168 frames) 83 (5,151 frames) 83
GFxBench ES2.0 1080 T-Rex Offscreen 5.0.0 153 (8,542 frames) 153 (8,541 frames) 152 (8,531 frames) 152.7
3DMark 2.0.4580 4,504 4,642 4,448 4,531.3
AI BenchMark 2.1.2 7,166 7,256 7,104 7,175.3
AImark 1.4 215 201 212 209.3
Octane 2.0 17,088 16,972 16,841 16,967
Speedometer 1.0 95.7 96 96.9 96.1
JetStream 1.1 88.3 86.7 87.8 87.6

HiSilicon Kirin 980 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Version Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Average
AnTuTu 7.1.4 271,727 274,133 274,627 273,495.7
GeekBench (Single-core) 4.3.2 3,334 3,335 3,337 3,335.3
GeekBench (Multi-core) 4.3.2 9,860 9,860 9,794 9,838
PCMark 2.0.3716 7,557 7,558 7,527 7,547.3
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 5.0.0 54 (3,319 frames) 53 (3,291 frames) 53 (3,308 frames) 53.3
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Car Chase Offscreen 5.0.0 30 (1,795 frames) 30 (1,767 frames) 30 (1,773 frames) 30
GFxBench ES3.0 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 5.0.0 86 (5,362 frames) 77 (4,768 frames) 83 (5,151 frames) 82
GFxBench ES2.0 1080 T-Rex Offscreen 5.0.0 71 (3,989 frames) 68 (3,812 frames) 68 (3,829 frames) 69
3DMark 2.0.4580 3,570 3,597 3,594 3,587
AI BenchMark 2.1.2 14,021 14,005 14,051 14,025.7
AImark 1.4 2,295 2,333 2,295 2,307.7
Octane 2.0 20,553 20,622 2,0889 20,688
Speedometer 1.0 113 113.4 114.0 113.5
JetStream 1.1 94.8 94.1 94.1 94.4

Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 vs. Snapdragon 845 vs. Kirin 980 Summary

Benchmark Versus Snapdragon 845 Versus Kirin 980
AnTuTu 1.24 1.29
GeekBench (Single-core) 1.48 1.06
GeekBench (Multi-core) 1.35 1.14
PCMark 0.98 1.18
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 1.18 1.33
GFxBench ES3.1 1080 Car Chase Offscreen 1.20 1.4
GFxBench ES3.0 1080 Manhattan Offscreen 1.22 1.24
GFxBench ES2.0 1080 T-Rex Offscreen 1.09 2.42
3DMark 1.21 1.52
AI BenchMark 3.69 1.9
AImark 13.16 1.19
Octane 1.46 1.2
Speedometer 1.22 1.04
JetStream 1.32 1.23

Conclusion

Here are some things you should take away from the benchmark results of the Snapdragon 855 versus Snapdragon 845:

  • Qualcomm claims a 45% improvement in CPU performance. Certainly, the jump to ARM Cortex-A76-based cores should yield a substantial performance bump. The 48% and 35% improvements in GeekBench single-core and multi-core scores respectively are impressive, and since most workloads benefit from improvements to single core performance, we’ll give Qualcomm the win here.
  • Just as Qualcomm claimed, the Adreno 640 GPU in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 offers about a 20% jump in performance over the Adreno 630 GPU in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845. (See: 3DMark and GFXBench results sans the outdated T-Rex test.)
  • Since PCMark measures system performance, it’s not surprising to see the polished Google Pixel 3 XL software slightly outperform the nearly-AOSP software on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 reference device.
  • In our interviews with Travis Lanier, Gary Brotman, and Ziad Asghar from Qualcomm, we talked about the difficulties of benchmarking AI performance. Regardless, Qualcomm used publicly available AI benchmarks in their marketing for the Snapdragon 855. Qualcomm claims the Snapdragon 855 offers a 3-fold improvement in AI performance over the Snapdragon 845. Depending on what AI benchmarks/ANN models you use, the Snapdragon 855 definitely offers a substantial AI performance improvement if taking advantage of HVX.
  • The Snapdragon 855 does offer improvements in memory performance, as evidenced by the AnTuTu RAM subscore. The Pixel 3 XL scored about  3400 on average while the Snapdragon 855 reference device scored about 4300 on average.

And here are our thoughts on the benchmark results of the Snapdragon 855 versus Kirin 980:

  • Unsurprisingly, the CPU performance of the Snapdragon 855 isn’t that much better than the Kirin 980. Both platforms use ARM Cortex-A76 and ARM Cortex-A55 CPU cores, although Qualcomm customizes them a bit and both platforms have different core cluster configurations and clock speeds.
  • Qualcomm’s custom Adreno 640 GPU in the Snapdragon 855 trounces the ARM Mali-G76MP10 GPU in the Kirin 980 platform. Even the Adreno 630 GPU in the Snapdragon 845 outperforms the Kirin 980’s GPU. We didn’t get a chance to test real games, but from these results, the Snapdragon 855 should be the better platform for mobile gaming.
  • At the Snapdragon Summit, Qualcomm claimed their new mobile platform offers a 2-fold improvement in AI versus the “competition,” which we assume is the Kirin 980. Despite not having a dedicated block for AI processing (what Huawei calls an “NPU”), Qualcomm’s improvements in compute across the board allow the Snapdragon 855 to beat the Kirin 980 in the two AI benchmarks that we tested.

Recommended Reading:


Benchmarks We Used

CPU, GPU, and Memory

AnTuTu Benchmark
AnTuTu Benchmark
Developer: AnTuTu
Price: Free

CPU and Memory

Geekbench 4
Geekbench 4
Price: Free

System

PCMark for Android Benchmark
PCMark for Android Benchmark
Developer: UL LLC
Price: Free

Graphics

GFXBench Benchmark
GFXBench Benchmark
Developer: Kishonti Ltd.
Price: Free
3DMark - The Gamer's Benchmark
3DMark - The Gamer's Benchmark
Developer: UL LLC
Price: Free

AI

AI Benchmark
AI Benchmark
Developer: Ignatov Andrey
Price: Free
AImark
AImark
Price: Free

Browser

Octane 2.0Speedometer 1.0JetStream 1.1


Feature image by Max Weinbach. Explanations for each of the benchmarks were provided by Mario Serrafero. Mario Serrafero also assisted with analysis of the benchmarking results.

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