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Qualcomm Details Snapdragon 820’s Hexagon 680 DSP Coprocessor

Qualcomm is sharing information morsel by morsel in its run-up to the launch of the Snapdragon 820 processor next year. At the Hot Chips conference, the chipmaker detailed the digital signal processor it is coupling with its forthcoming SoC, similar to Apple’s M7 and M8 coprocessors that offload certain tasks from their corresponding SoCs to save battery life and deliver increased performance.

Called the Hexagon 680 DSP (digital signal processor), it has been designed to handle some of main processor’s tasks, such as motion tracking, and introduce improvements in camera capability of the device by taking better images and videos at low light and significantly reduce its battery usage.

The Hexagon 680 DSP is meant to improve the low-power motion tracking, low light photo shoots, and media playback, Qualcomm said. The company said that it hopes that the DSP will substantially improve the performance and power.

The chip includes a separate digital signal processor for handling the data it gleans from different sensors. This would allow the Hexagon 680 to simultaneously process a number of things in the background, and get accurate data while sipping less battery. The Hexagon 680 also improves performance of virtual reality and augmented reality apps.

(Also see: Qualcomm Launches Adreno 510 and Adreno 530 GPUs; Due in Early 2016)

“The aptly named “low power island” is designed to improve the battery life of always-on use cases, including step or activity counters as well as sensor-assisted positioning (using your phones’ sensors to provide more accurate location when you don’t have a strong GPS signal),” the company wrote in a blog post.

The second feature aims to bolster a device’s imaging sophistication. The added hardware offers support for advanced imaging and computer vision when used with the recently introduced Qualcomm Spectra camera ISP, company’s image signal processor. The company said that this would significantly improve a camera’s performance under low-light conditions.

(Also see: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC Specifications Leak Ahead of Launch)

It does so by tapping both ISP and DSP to “adaptively brighten areas of both video and photos that would otherwise appear too dark.” The company claims that the Snapdragon 820, thanks to the Hexagon 680, will perform operations faster and use only 10 percent of the power.

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