What are Qualcomm’s Kryo CPU cores?

Every phone has an SoC. At the center of these SoCs are CPU cores. Today we are going to be tackling the question, what are Qualcomm’s Kryo CPU cores?

Generally speaking, there are two types of CPU cores based on how they are built. These are IP CPU cores and Custom CPU cores. IP cores are made from ARM designs while Custom cores are modified ARM designs or non-ARM designs.

Qualcomm is a company that makes SoCs (Snapdragon) for smartphones. If you make SoCs, you’re going to need CPUs. Qualcomm customizes ARM’s designs to make their CPU cores. These CPU cores are called Kryo Prime, Kryo Gold, and Kryo Silver.



Qualcomm’s Kryo CPU cores

Qualcomm makes (or customizes) its cores because of a need to make its CPUs run better and to be more optimized for tasks. This has been their strategy for a while now and it has been working.

Qualcomm’s Kryo CPU cores are arranged in a three-tiered system.

Silver: Kryo silver cores are power-efficient cores. What this means is that these cores aren’t very powerful, but they can run basic tasks, stay cool and conserve battery.

Gold: The Gold cores are known as performance (big) cores. These cores have a lot of power and can handle heavy tasks depending on their architecture. The downside here is that powerful cores tend to heat up and drain the battery pretty quickly.

Prime: The Kryo Prime cores are a new addition to the Kryo setup. This is a result of Qualcomm adopting DynamIQ for its Snapdragon 800 series flagship SoCs. They offer a huge power boost to the SoCs but also suffer from heating and battery drainages as byproducts of their power.


Qualcomm’s Kryo CPU cores

CoreBased onSoC usedProcessYear
Kryo 240 Gold
(1.8GHz)

Kryo 240 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A73


Cortex A53
SD460Samsung
14nm
2020
Kryo 250 Gold
(1.8GHz)

Kryo 250 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A73


Cortex A53
SD632Samsung
14nm
2018
Kryo 260 Gold
2.0-2.2GHz

Kryo 260 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A73



Cortex A53
SD665, SD662,
SD660, SD636
Samsung
11-14nm
2017
Kryo 265 Gold
2.4-2.8GHz

Kryo 265 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A73



Cortex A53
SD680, SD685TSMC
6nm
2021
Kryo 280 Gold
(2.45GHz)

Kryo 280 Silver
(1.9GHz)
Custom
Big
Core

Custom
Little
Core
SD835Samsung
10nm
2016
Kryo 360 Gold
(2.0-2.3GHz)

Kryo 360 Silver
(1.7GHz)
Cortex A75



Cortex A55
SD712, SD710, SD670Samsung
10nm
2018
Kryo 385 Gold
(2.9GHz)

Kryo 385 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A75


Cortex A55
SD845Samsung
10nm
2017
Kryo 460 Gold
2.2GHz

Kryo 460 Silver
1.8GHz
Cortex A76


Cortex A55
SD675, SD678, SD480, SD480+Samsung
8-11nm
2018
Kryo 465 Gold
2.3GHz

Kryo 465 Silver
1.8GHz
Cortex A76


Cortex A55
SD720GSamsung
8nm
2020
Kryo 468 Gold
(2.4GHz)

Kryo 468 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A76


Cortex A55
SD7cSamsung
10nm
2019
Kryo 470 Gold
(2.2-2.3GHz)

Kryo 470 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A76



Cortex A55
SD732G, SD730G, SD730Samsung
8nm
2019
Kryo 475 Gold
(2.3-2.8GHz)

Kryo 475 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A76



Cortex A55
SD768, SD765, SD765GSamsung
7nm
2019
Kryo 485 Gold
(2.84-2.96GHz)

Kryo 485 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A76



Cortex A55
SD855, SD855+TSMC
7nm
2018
Kryo 490 Gold
(2.45GHz)

Kryo 490 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A76


Cortex A55
SD8cTSMC
7nm
2018
Kryo 495 Gold
(2.84GHz-3GHz)

Kryo 495 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A76



Cortex A55
SD8cx, SDSQ1TSMC
7nm
2018
Kryo 560 Gold
(2.0GHz)

Kryo 560 Silver
(1.7GHz)
Cortex A77


Cortex A55
SD690Samsung
8nm
2020
Kryo 570 Gold
(2.2GHz)

Kryo 570 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A77


Cortex A55
SD750GSamsung
8nm
2020
Kryo 585 Prime
(3.2GHz)

Kryo 585 Gold
(2.0-2.4GHz)

Kryo 585 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex A77


Cortex A77



Cortex A55
SD865, SD865+, SD870TSMC
7nm
2019
Kryo 660 Gold
(2.2GHz)

Kryo 660 Silver
(1.7GHz)
Cortex A78


Cortex A55
SD695TSMC
6nm
2021
Kryo 670 Prime
(2.5GHz)

Kryo 670 Gold
(2.2GHz)

Kryo 670 Silver
(1.9GHz)
Cortex A78


Cortex A78


Cortex A55
SD778, SD778+,
SD780G
TSMC 6nm
Samsung
5nm
2021
Kryo 680 Prime
(3.0GHz)

Kryo 680 Gold
(2.4GHz)

Kryo 680 Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex X1



Cortex A78


Cortex A55
SD888, SD888+Samsung
5nm
2020
Kryo Prime
(3.0-3.2GHz)

Kryo Gold
2.5-2.75GHz

Kryo Silver
(1.8GHz)
Cortex X2




Cortex A710


Cortex A510
SD8
Gen 1,
SD8+
Gen 1
Samsung
4nm
2021
Kryo Gold
2.0GHz

Kryo Silver
1.8GHz
Cortex A78


Cortex A55
SD4
Gen 1
TSMC
7nm
2022
Kryo Gold
2.2GHz

Kryo Silver
1.8GHz
Cortex A78

Cortex A55
SD6
Gen 1
Samsung
4nm
2022
Kryo Prime
3.2-3.36GHz

Kryo Gold
2.8GHz

Kryo Gold
2.8GHz

Kryo Silver
2.0GHz
Cortex X3



Cortex A715


Cortex A710


Cortex A510
SD8
Gen 2,
SD8
Gen 2
For
Galaxy
TSMC N4
5nm
2022
Kryo Prime
2.4GHz

Kryo Gold
2.36GHz

Kryo Silver
1.8GHz
Cortex A710


Cortex A710


Cortex A510
SD7
Gen 1
Samsung
4nm
2022
Kryo Prime
2.9GHz

Kryo Gold
2.49GHz

Kryo Silver
1.8GHz
Cortex X2


Cortex A710


Cortex A510
SD7+
Gen 2
TSMC N4
5nm
2023


Read: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs Explained



Microarchitecture

On most Snapdragon SoCs, Kryo cores are arranged in a big.LITTLE (4+4 or 2+6) configuration. So what you’ll get is 4 Kryo Gold cores + 4 Kryo Silver cores or 2 Kryo Gold cores + 6 Kryo Silver cores.

On the Flagships, the arrangement changes into a 1 Kryo Prime core + 3 Kryo Gold cores + 4 Kryo Silver cores (DynamIQ).

The new Kryo cores based on ARMv9 are the most powerful, followed by the Kryo 600 series. Next up, you have got the Kryo 500 and 400 series. The Kryo 200 cores are the least powerful of all the Kryo cores.


Design and manufacture

Qualcomm’s cores are sometimes referred to as semi-custom cores. This is because their cores are closely related to ARM’s IP designs. This makes it easy to compare their performance with those of IP cores.

Qualcomm are known as fabless SoC manufacturers because they do not do any manufacturing themselves. They usually contract the making of their SoCs to TSMC and/or Samsung. They favor TSMC a lot these days after the disaster that happened to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1.


Benefits

The use of customized cores has been very beneficial, not just to Qualcomm but to consumers as well. Qualcomm’s Kryo cores tend to be more efficient and optimized for handling tasks, apps, and games. Snapdragon SoCs are also well supported by Qualcomm and this makes it easier for software developers to optimize software (apps and games) for them.


Read: Qualcomm Snapdragon vs Samsung Exynos


Drawbacks

Customized CPU cores do not come cheap. Not even in the slightest. The Architecture license for starters is quite expensive, and the research and development are also expensive. On top of that, Qualcomm ensures that their SoCs are well supported by developers worldwide. These all cost money.

Hence, Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs using Kryo cores are usually costly and phones using Snapdragon SoCs with Kryo cores tend to be more costly than phones using SOCs with IP cores. However, a lot of users are willing to forego the costs to enjoy the benefits that Snapdragon SoCs bring with them.


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