Snapdragon 845 Leak: Why next year’s phones could be seriously quick

A new top-end Qualcomm chipset is allegedly already in development, paving the way for next year’s flagship smartphones.

US chipmaker Qualcomm is a global leader for smartphone processors, which explains why its chips feature in most high-end phones in the market. For instance, the new Samsung Galaxy S8 runs on the company’s latest Snapdragon 835, while the LG G6 boasts a Snapdragon 821. But what’s next?

According to a report from Android Headlines, Qualcomm is already working on a chip called the ‘Snapdragon 845’, and has purportedly entered trial production. We can’t verify this information however, so have your pinch of salt at the ready. Nevertheless, what’s interesting about the report is that it claims Qualcomm is aiming for a super-efficient 7nm manufacturing process.

The manufacturing process dictates how far apart – or rather, how tightly together – transistors can be packed on a piece of silicon. The ‘nm’ number you often see associated with processors is the distance between transistors. In computing, a transistor is like a tiny electronic switch that allows computing actions to be completed. So the more transistors you can squeeze onto a chip, the more computing you can get done in a given time.

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The Snapdragon 835 chip made headlines on account of it being produced on a 10nm manufacturing process. This was a major win for Qualcomm, as it offered a significant step up over the 14nm and 16nm processes being used at the time. Qualcomm claimed that moving to 10nm allowed for 27% higher performance or up to 40% lower power consumption.

But it’s important to note that Qualcomm only designs the chips, and doesn’t actually fabricate them itself. For the Snapdragon 835, Qualcomm teamed up with Samsung, which is probably a big reason why the Galaxy S8 got the Snapdragon 835 before anyone else.

However, it’s not clear who will be producing the next flagship Qualcomm chip. It’s believed that both Samsung and Taiwan’s TSMC are in the running, with the latter tipped to have begun testing on a 7nm process back in April.

In any case, we won’t know the truth until Qualcomm makes an official announcement, so take this report with due caution. Qualcomm usually announces new top-end chips very late in the year, so it’s likely we won’t hear anything about a Snapdragon 835 successor for a good while yet. It’s entirely possible this new leak is a hoax, and there’s every chance that a ‘Snapdragon 845’ chip doesn’t even exist.

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How much does the processor and raw performance of a phone impact your purchasing decision? Let us know in the comments.