Everyone knows about Qualcomm’s upper hand in mobile processor world. It powers more mobile handsets than any other processor manufacturer out there. Here is the market share given by Statista in 2011:
We noticed Apple powering a huge number of smartphones. But you should know A6X chip is available only on iPhone. Samsung’s Exynos processor is available only on certain select models of Galaxy. And NVidia Tegra processors are coming on too few smartphones. The rest of them all use Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.
About five hundred devices (smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, etc.) use Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, and about 400 new devices will be released in the coming months. This year in CES, Qualcomm has announced the latest edition of Snapdragon series, four new processors—Snapdragon 200, 400, 600, and 800. CEO and chairman of Qualcomm, Dr. Paul Jacobs says Snapdragon 800 and 600 are the “most advanced wireless processors ever built”.
Snapdragon S1 to S4 and the S4’s sub series, Play, Plus, Pro, Prime, etc., will be obsolete now with the advent of this new series.
Snapdragon 600 and 800 are the high end versions of these processors, powered by the newest architecture by Qualcomm, quad-core Krait 300 and Krait 400 respectively. Now, what is Snapdragon and Krait all about?
Krait is Qualcomm’s custom designed processor architecture. It is slightly different from the major architecture developed by ARM to use with smartphones and tablets, known as ARM Cortex series. ARM Cortex and Krait use ARM’s instruction set architecture, ARMv7, v8, etc. About Krait 300 and 400, we don’t have more information yet.
We know that the previous Krait architecture was a little more advanced than ARM Cortex-A9, and a little less advanced than Cortex-A15. Now, NVidia has released Tegra 4 based on Cortex-A15 architecture, and if Krait 300 and 400 are more advanced than Cortex-A15, then the current Snapdragon range should be faster and more advanced.
Both Snapdragon 600 and 800 are quad-core CPUs.
A. Snapdragon 600
- Uses Krait 300 architecture, and gives max speed of up to 1.9 GHz (per core).
- Newer Adreno 320 graphics processing unit (the graphics card of the smartphone, built into the Snapdragon chip)
- LPDDR3 RAM (Low power DDR3, which is the same as in several laptops and tablets)
On the top of that, Qualcomm has mentioned that the S 600 processor will provide 40 per cent more speed than S4 Pro processor.
B. Snapdragon 800
- Uses Krait 400 quad-core architecture, providing speed of up to 2.3 GHz (per core)
- Adreno 330 graphics chip
- Two 32 bit LPDDR3 running at 800 MHz, providing data transfer of up to 12.8 GB per second.
- 4G LTE Advanced (category 4) baseband chip
- UltraHD support (4096×2304 px resolution) and HD audio
- Dual image signal processors (supporting up to 55 MP camera, 3D capture, photo merging, etc.)
- 75 per cent more performance than S4 Pro
These numbers and specifications are mentioned by Qualcomm in their press release of Snapdragon processors. It has to be seen how much the processor performs on a real device after it has been released, which is expected in March this year.
Snapdragon 600 is for mid to high end smartphones to provide multimedia features, gaming, and web browsing with better battery life (according to Qualcomm, about fifty percent less power). Snapdragon 800 will replace S4 Prime processors and will power high end smartphones and smart TVs.
The best feature on Snapdragon 800 is the support for ultra HD video and image capture and playback. This means, it will deliver up to 4 times better quality than the currently available 1080p videos in HDTVs.
Another important feature is Qualcomm’s baseband chipset for LTE supporting speeds of up to 150 Mbps on this processor. Qualcomm is already a market leader in baseband and provides LTE baseband chipsets for a number of devices (including Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X, etc.)
Have you noticed the LTE versions of these smartphones use Qualcomm SoC, while the regular version of S3 uses Samsung’s Exynos and HTC One X uses Tegra 3 processor? This is in itself a silent approval of Qualcomm’s superiority in LTE baseband chipset design (which is approved by US carriers like Verizon and AT&T).
In the keynote by Dr. Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm CEO, the processor seems to be working perfectly with high definition gaming with 3D graphics. It seems to provide quite the amount of power as available in certain laptops. This is exactly what we want in the next generation tablets and smartphones. Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and 600 will both power more than four hundred devices in the coming months.