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Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 blows competition out of the water and has the benchmarks to prove it

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 blows competition out of the water and has the benchmarks to prove it
Qualcomm is the first company expected to bring 28nm architectures to mass market with its Snapdragon S4 chip, and if that doesn’t tell you much, we’d oversimplify it by simply saying that it blows the current crop of chips out of the water. The technology is a generational leap over current chips in phones mostly manufactured under the 40nm process. 

The new S4 is also remarkable because it integrates practically every network frequency you might need including an integrated LTE chip and is expected to finally bring noticeable improvement to battery life on LTE devices.

AnandTech got its hands on the mobile development platform (MDP) for the Qualcomm MSM8960 and brings us the benchmarks to show why it might be a good idea to wait one more quarter when the first devices with S4 start hitting the market.

Now, we should mention that the MDP Qualcomm provides for reference has a 4-inch display with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels, runs on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich and has 1GB of LPDDR2. Qualcomm has bundled it with Adreno 225 graphics and the first handsets are expected to also come with Adreno 225 GPU as the company is rushing to get it to market.

In the processing department, the S4 brings the Krait processor, a customized chip based on Cortex A9, with two cores running at 1.5GHz. Here’s where you should pay close attention - it smokes the competition. Krait is 20% to 35% faster than the Cortex A9 chip used in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

This means Android running smooth as molasses - AnandTech reports that Android has finally gotten rid of annoying lag in the browser, application switcher and when taking screenshots. The test results below show that the Krait-based MDP MSM8960 is way ahead of the current crop of high-end phones like the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola Droid RAZR and Samsung Galaxy S II.

Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 blows competition out of the water and has the benchmarks to prove it
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 blows competition out of the water and has the benchmarks to prove it
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 blows competition out of the water and has the benchmarks to prove it
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 blows competition out of the water and has the benchmarks to prove it

Graphics with Adreno 225 are on par with the current high-end handsets, but we expect the biggest boost in the graphical department to come with Adreno 3xx.

Overall, the Snadragon S4 impresses us with industry beating performance in the MDP. The benchmarks above are just one more reason we’re looking forward to MWC starting in mere days where we hope to hear about the first actual handsets and tablets with the new chip. Stay tuned.

source: AnandTech

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posted on 21 Feb 2012, 03:45 4

1. RaKithAPeiRiZ (Posts: 1488; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)

why no tegra 3?

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 03:49 4

2. android_hitman (unregistered)

of course it's MUCH better than the older competition....

let's see it compared to the TEGRA 3 ...

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 16:07 1

52. ledbetterp3 (Posts: 467; Member since: 31 Aug 2011)

Exactly what I was going to say. Congratulations, they beat last year's technology... I think that when every other processor manufacturers release their new processors, qualcomm will be the same reject it is now. Just my thoughts, but who knows?

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 19:42 2

58. Mario1017 (Posts: 336; Member since: 04 Sep 2011)

It wouldn't matter if it was compared to the tegra 3 because this processor is still a dual core, not quad like the tegra. if you really wanted to compare the tegra to something and make it fair, compare it to the quad core S4, this proc is still AMAZING no matter how you look at it or what you compare it to

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 23:16

65. ledbetterp3 (Posts: 467; Member since: 31 Aug 2011)

It wouldn't make it fair to compare it to something that will be released much, much later, but to compare it to something that was released around the same time, it is. This processor is good/great for a dual-core, but that's because no one else bothers working on dual-core any further, and if so, they didn't release anything yet. The best thing to compare this to is the tegra 3(especially since that's what I think they arecompeting with), and it does not match against it. This will be put in high-end smartphone along with the tegra 3. Not mid-range handsets, along with the older, obsolete processors. At least I'm pretty sure.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 23:28

67. maier9900 (Posts: 272; Member since: 17 Dec 2011)

This architecture type processor will beat Tegra 3

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 03:59

3. Karan_Malhotra (Posts: 27; Member since: 17 Feb 2012)

If it woud have been based on cortex A-15 then it would have been better

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 04:16 1

4. Guest_star (Posts: 231; Member since: 30 Dec 2011)

Can someone pls explain to me the difference between cortex A-9 and A-15...I thought it is in the size of a chip, but this one is 28nm and it is still called A-9 like the ones on 40nm...

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 05:02 5

7. Victor.H (Posts: 658; Member since: 27 May 2011)

So, the ARM Cortex A9 and the Cortex A15 are different architectures. The 28nm and 40nm that you mention are different manufacturing technologies.

An architecture is basically a logical description of the processor - a better architecture gives you a faster, more efficient core.

Theoretically, an architecture is independent of the technology. Of course, a more precise technology (like 28nm is more precise than 40nm) allows faster frequencies and has other benefits, but it's not tied to the architecture.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 05:16 4

8. Guest_star (Posts: 231; Member since: 30 Dec 2011)

ty, It's sad that i don't know that because I study electrical engeneering, microelectronics, this is my feeld of study, gues I have a lot to learn :)

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 07:00

12. Bangthering_007 (Posts: 36; Member since: 21 Feb 2012)

I beg to differ with the article. Actually Qualcomm S4 is their enhanced version of Cortex A15. Check the following links leading to the same Anandtech.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 07:17 4

15. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

the S4 will not initially be an A15. The Krait core starts as an A9 equivilant and will morph into an A15 CLASS (they actually dont use ARM designs like the rest of the chip makers do, which is part of the reason they stay behind the pack) after the first generation, much like the current tegra line is doing. That is part of the draw back of being first in line. The current power increase that they are experiencing has more to do with shrinking the die and increasing the GPU than it does with the chip itself.

The exynos is getting its facelift with a similar reduction in die size and its supposed to get a 50% improvement from its current power ratio. They all are.
This "test" looks nice, but its false. It also will not look as nice when the current generation of chips all takes the same leap. It will look pretty much like it does right now as everyone will get similar leaps in power.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 07:59 1

19. Bangthering_007 (Posts: 36; Member since: 21 Feb 2012)

Exactly my point!! The conventional way of measuring the processor prowess is DMIPS/MHz. Krait scores 3.3 DMIPS/MHz. ARM hasn't officially announced thos numbers for Cortex A15 but rumour has it that it may be around 3.5 DMIPS/MHz. So the gap has been considerably reduced and OMAP 5 is not comin out until Q4 of this year (TI come on wished it was early) similarly wayne AKA Tegra 4. This performance gap from Scorpion isn't possible with just improved A9 architecture since the majority SOCs already are using it. Exynos 32nm build technology compared to 28nm of Qualcomm evens out this slight gap in DMIPS/MHz as they can fit more no. of transistors on the same size die. Ofcourse this is all theory the real world performance all depends on the drivers and the code optimization. But have to commend Qualcomm to be the first to out 28nm SOCs and to bring this huge performance improvements to its Krait architecture.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 08:04 3

21. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4847; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

The Qualcomm MSM8960 S4 running the Adreno 225 is only dual-core running at 1.5GHz (but it can run efficiently at 1.7GHz because of its 28nm technology) which is a fabulous chip. So far the best dual-core that had been benched marked ever!

Wait until the Qualcomm APQ8064 quad-core S4 running up to an astounding 2.5GHz with the new Adreno 320 comes out. That will most definitely be inline or BETTER than what should be coming out from Samsung, NVIDIA, & Texas Instruments. That Adreno 320 chipset should be the first to ACTUALLY reach Xbox 360 & PS3 graphics, I don’t know about you but to have that type of graphical power in your pocket is truly incredible. And to think that will be a fact before the year is over because it’s scheduled to be released this fall.

You have to be impressed with the S4 chips Qualcomm is coming out with. They hold a significant advantage running with the 28nm technology. I would take a 2.5GHz quad-core 28nm S4 Krait chipset running on a 2500 to 3000 mAh battery at anytime.

The new S4’s are coming out very STRONG, and there is a chance that this new generation of chips might belong to Qualcomm & the super ballzy S4 Krait chipsets. Right now their dual-core chips are benchmarking the best, so it’s reasonable to think the same about their quad-core chips ESPECIALLY if they run at the blazingly fast 2.5GHz……WHAT?!?

People have to remember that Qualcomm had been in this chip making game for a long, long time & it’s about time for the sleeping giant to wake up & flex its muscles! Good for Qualcomm because this will push innovation even further!

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 08:31 1

26. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

lol. I wish i shared your enthusiasm for the "waking giant". lol.
Just for clarity though, the adreno 320 chip isnt even on Qualcomms public roadmap yet which goes through 2013, so its going to be a good little while until you see that GPU in a phone/tablet. So you are talking past 2 full generations from now (current A9 comparable krait + first gen a15 comparable krait which is 2nd half of 2012) before you see the adreno 320 krait generation.

If your looking 3 generations in advance, all comparable chips will be running at that speed, so just like now when 1ghz sounds so yesterday, eventually (and its boggling to say so) 2.5ghz will be "so yesterday". lol

Just for giggles, i found some articles about the Mali core that samsung is planing on using in 2013. It supports DUAL QUAD core phones. (The adreno 320 supports 4 "3D cores" so i have no idea how comparable that all is) Think about that.. 8 cores in your phone and should be about 10-20% faster than a ps3/360.... NUUUTS.
Of course, I think both the Mali 658 and the Adreno 320 will be "tablet class" chips only.



posted on 21 Feb 2012, 08:45 2

32. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4847; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

That is not true here is what is on Wikipedia:


The S4 Krait quad-core will be out before the holidays in 2012. It's pretty much a must at this point.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 08:56 1

35. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4847; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

Here is another:


Link won't work, engadget is garbage! lol

Never mind I will find this link elsewhere!

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 08:58 1

36. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

SAE, you are disagreeing with an official roadmap from Qualcomm and showing me wikipedia as proof. Thats just silly.

Yes, the Krait will be out any day now. The krait quad core will be out by christmas 2012. But the first generation krait quad core does NOT have the Adreno 320 GPU, its going to be paired with the Adreno 305 and come out at a 1.7ghz quad core, scalable to about 2.0ghz. The 3RD generation Krait will be the 2.5 ghz with the Adreno 320, which isnt scheduled until well into 2013.

Whats weird is that on the quadcore, the radio bands are not integrated into the chip like the dual cores will be. I dont know why that is.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 09:14 1

39. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4847; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

That was the same link I was going to show you. It says the Adreno 305 but there is still hope for the 320 to make it in 2012. We still don't know. This is all speculation. We are all talking right now.

At least we can agree with a 2.5GHz quad-core as a possibility in 2012 as per your link. 1.7GHz quad-core with the Adreno 305 should still be up to par with anything Samsung, NVIDIA, & Texas Instruments will have to offer. Qualcomm is serious this time around.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 09:16 3

40. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

you are so enthusiastic i just wanna hug you. lol.

Well, when the 4212 drops some speed tests, we will see. And when the 5xxx quad core drops sometime this year, we can bench that vs the krait quad. No point in argueing over hypotheticals. :)

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 10:18 1

43. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 4847; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)

lol You are right. This is fun to talk about though!

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 14:12 2

50. Dark4o90 (Posts: 205; Member since: 20 Feb 2011)

yes of course and wait for the exynos a-15 quadcore

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 04:28 3

5. 1701nino (unregistered)

They didn't compare it to tegra 3 because its quad-core and the S4 is a dual-core processor.And this a benchmark betwen dual-cores.The fact is in 2011 qualcom was behind all other chip manufacturers because they based all of their chips on cortex A-8 archi. while everybody else went to cortex A-9 archi.
But with S4 they are catching up with the competition;)

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 04:43 4

6. Victor.H (Posts: 658; Member since: 27 May 2011)

Absolutely, also - there are no quad-core phones to compare with yet.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 05:31

9. thelegend6657 (unregistered)

Processing department not deparment
Btw what's wrong with snapdragon , it wasn't really that slow compared with rivals right ?
+ why android dudes like remixfa love calling it crapdragon ?

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 07:13 2

14. remixfa (Posts: 14255; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

the crapdragon chip has the smallest GPU of the big 4 chip names and the least processing power. The 8660 (current dual core) is based off the oldest chip design and thus is also the most power hungry. My single core Hummingbird processor beats the 8660 in most every task when its properly optimized. It also comes with a bigger GPU. If a single core can best a dual core in 80-90% of its functions at similar clock speeds, then that dual core has no business being called a premium chip.
exynos >omap > tegra2 > crapdragon is how they go according to over all power.

it is currently used so often because it is mass produced, cheap, and is available with pretty much any radio u can think of.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 08:31

27. theBankRobber (Posts: 681; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)

When I got the Evo 4G when it came out, I thought it was the best.....until I started playing games on it. The good games ran slow and lagged and emus played good on the low end systems like nes and she's. When my wife got the evo 3d, was thinking how much better the snapdragon would be but it sure fell short of how it rendered graphics. Virtual City, the pixels looked bad and some games didn't run smooth. That was the last time I touched a snapdragon phone.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 06:14 2

10. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)

well apparently snapdragon is catching back up, i never really liked snapdragon all that much (except on the dinc1 it was great then).

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 06:16 1

11. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)

Seems like a good enough future processor for everyone not planning to run playstation 3 level games on their phones.
And I expect it's advantage in power efficiency is even greater, compared to current best chips.

posted on 21 Feb 2012, 17:19

55. Cwebb (Posts: 501; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)

*Sad face*

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