Qualcomm has announced a new, more powerful processor in its Snapdragon 800 family, which will allow smartphones and tablets to play back 4K Ultra HD footage rather than just record it.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 is described by the company as the next generation for its mobile processors. It is designed to deliver the highest-quality mobile video, imaging and graphics. It also comes with a new Adreno 420 graphics processor which is claimed to be up to 40 per cent more powerful than the last generation.

The Krait 450 quad-core CPU is the first mobile CPU capable of running at speeds of up to 2.5GHz per core. It also has memory bandwidth of 25.6GB/s so will benefit the speed of running apps and browsing the internet.

It has advanced 4K rendering and is capable of playing Ultra HD content on a device itself or to a compatible TV. Of course, the former will depend on manufacturers adding native support in their mobile screen technologies, something we don't expect for a while yet.

It is also the first chip to introduce hardware support for 4K HEVC (H.265) decoding.

"Using a smartphone or tablet powered by Snapdragon 805 processor is like having an Ultra HD home theater in your pocket, with 4K video, imaging and graphics, all built for mobile," said Murthy Renduchintala, executive vice-president of Qualcomm Technologies.

"We're delivering the mobile industry's first truly end-to-end Ultra HD solution, and coupled with our industry leading Gobi LTE modems and RF transceivers, streaming and watching content at 4K resolution will finally be possible."

Commercial devices powered by the Snapdragon 850 processor are expected to start appearing in the first half of 2014.

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