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Snapdragon 800 will air this summer, boost CPU speeds and the on-die GPU

NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) in January made the bold claim that its Tegra 4 system-on-a-chip (SoC) was "the world's fastest mobile processor".  At the 2013 Mobile World Congress, the company was busy preaching that claim and praising the chips potential for smartphones/tablets.  The 28 nm Tegra 4 packs four cores running at up to 1.9 GHz, plus a low-power companion core, and is paired with 72 GPU processing units.

Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) is unphased, though, by NVIDIA's bold rhetoric.  In an interview with The Verge, Qualcomm's Senior VP of Product Management, Raj Talluri, said that the Snapdragon 800 should "easily" beat Tegra 4 in most benchmarks.  He's also confident that despite the die-shrink Tegra will still be more power hungry than Snapdragon, due to its lack of an on-die LTE modem.  He adds that his company is "more focused on shipping products" than refuting rivals' braggadocio.

So far about 50 upcoming products have been announced or leaked that feature the Snapdragon 800, which begins sampling next quarter.  The chip packs a quad-core processor clocked at up to 2.3 GHz, on-die LTE, and a fresh GPU, the Adreno 330.

Qualcomm is confident that the Snapdragon 800 willl still be more than enough to hold off the Tegra 4i (Grey), the refined version of Tegra 4 that's slated to land later this year.  Tegra 4i and Snapdragon 800 are somewhat similar on paper -- both are clockd at up to 2.3 GHz, both feature four primary CPU cores, both feature an on-die LTE modem.

Snapdragon 800
Qualcomm is confident the Snapdragon 800 won't be beat. [Image Source: Liliputing]

But Qualcomm is also focused on keeping dominant on the low end.  Its Snapdragon 200 (1.4 GHz quad-core, Adreno 203) will be aimed at sub-$100 USD smartphones, its Snapdragon 400 (1.4 GHz quad-core or up to 1.7 GHz dual-core, plus Adreno 305) will be aimed at $100-300 USD phones.

Currently Qualcomm's high-end chip is the Snapdragon 600 (1.9 GHz quad-core, Adreno 320).  The Snapdragon 600 has already scored some important early design wins, such as the HTC One from HTC Corp. (TPE:2498).

Qualcomm and NVIDIA can't focus solely on each other, though -- they also have to contend with the likes of Intel Corp. (INTC), whose 22 nm chips will soon hit the mobile space.  And then there's Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) both of whom make their own proprietary ARM cores.  By merit of their massive market shares, they also effectively drive the processor market.

Source: The Verge



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RE: ghz stupidity moves to the phones...
By wuZheng on 2/27/2013 1:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
You're right that the whole oversimplification of processor specifications to generate hype thing has reached the mobile world.

However, you are wrong in your assertion that because the part has more cores and a higher clock that it will necessarily take more power to run. Did you think that digital designers just take on more transistors to an old design, redo the layout, and call it a day? If it were that easy, we'd get phones with new parts every quarter.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of changes to the core components of the design of each module inside the chip. An average SoC contains hundreds of such modules (top-level). So in fact, a Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974) quad-core running @ 2.3GHz could potentially use less power than an MSM8960 dual core chip clocked @ 1.5GHz. Operative word being could because nobody has real world numbers yet.

Also, the MSM8860 doesn't employ extensive clock gating technologies (power saving mechanism by partially disabling portions of logic on-die), hopefully the MSM8974 addresses this.


By eagle470 on 2/27/2013 1:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
Lets not forget the now widely support ability to turn cores off and on at the firmware level.

As a side note, some SPARC systems allow you to actually throttle the clock speed on the fly based on current usage, applications running, peak usage times, etc. Don't be surprised to see that flow over to the ARM world eventually.

Granted it's all buggy and flawed at first, but I seem to remember the same being true for computer 20 years ago. Mobile processing is still young.


RE: ghz stupidity moves to the phones...
By FITCamaro on 2/27/2013 2:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
I think his point is that the same chip clocked lower would mean longer battery life AND still be far more than adequate for a phone.

I agree that I only need so much power in a phone. A phone is a terrible gaming platform for any serious game. And its not like Words with Friends needs buttloads of computing power.


RE: ghz stupidity moves to the phones...
By eagle470 on 2/27/2013 3:49:27 PM , Rating: 3
For now, give it time and your phone will have that docking station that motorola tried and failed with. The phones just couldn't do enough. The phone is what will kill the desktop. Not the tablet.


By Spuke on 2/27/2013 6:39:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The phone is what will kill the desktop. Not the tablet.
X2, you guys are thinking small time. The intention here is to invalidate laptops and desktops. Phones and tablets will be your computing devices. In order for this to happen, mobile devices need to be just as powerful as the one's they're replacing. IMO, they'll be BETTER than today's desktops/laptops.


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