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.
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.