Android phones will be cooler this year!

Illustration of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.

Earlier in the day, Samsung announced that Qualcomm’s soon-to-be-released Snapdragon 820 processor will be manufactured at its foundries and they will harness the power of its second generation 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. While some many think that this is a case of Qualcomm showing its cards to Samsung, which will also release a competing processor called the Exynos 8820, and perhaps an acknowledgement of a disadvantage it has as it doesn’t fabricate its processors, it is actually great news for Qualcomm.

Qualcomm lost face in 2015 with both its Snapdragon 615 and 810 processors. For the first time in years, the San Diego based chipset maker didn’t launch a processor with a custom ARM core, and both the processors were known for performance and overheating issues. Samsung, in fact, didn’t even use the Snapdragon processor for its Galaxy phones in the US, something it did regularly.

The South Korean company realized that its own Exynos 7 processor had an edge over Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 because, it had the advantage of a superior manufacturing process, which was combined with the fact that Qualcomm wasn’t using a custom core, which is known to be a key strength of its processors.

With most chipset manufacturers having caught up with Qualcomm in the area of LTE modems, the wireless stack was also not a key strength for Qualcomm. Its Snapdragon 810 was notorious at being power thirsty and overheating. It also struggled at delivering sustained performance, something, which its predecessor; the Snapdragon 805, never struggled to offer. The Exynos 7 which found its way in the Galaxy S6 and Note 5 also performed better and was arguably the best Android processor of the year.

However, as the new Snapdragon 820 is being produced by Samsung, things should change in a big way. Firstly, Samsung’s advantage in the area of the manufacturing process is now null and void. Secondly, the Snapdragon 820 will return Qualcomm’s SoC to a more efficient quad-core architecture, which will be coupled with a next-generation custom core called Kryo.

Qualcomm promises almost two times the performance than the Snapdragon 810, which is staggering, but this will also be packaged into a chipset, which seemingly should run cooler, and not suffer from overheating issues, which in turn cause performance issues.

The Snapdragon 810 was being manufactured at TSMC’s foundries, which have an inferior 16nm process. As Intel has shown in the PC market, a smaller processor die results in faster performance because parts are stacked more closely, which consume lesser power and run cooler. This is an advantage that the Snapdragon 820 will leverage by using Samsung’s foundries.

As Qualcomm is the most popular chipset manufacturer in the world for Android phones and also Windows Phones, chances are in 2016 we will see phones that are faster and more importantly, cooler…in every way fathomable.

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