Galaxy S 4 - Powered by a Better Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064AB)?

At a high level, Samsung's Galaxy S 4 integrates Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 SoC. From what Qualcomm told us about Snapdragon 600, we're dealing with four Krait 300 cores and an Adreno 320 GPU. The Krait 300 cores themselves are supposed to improve performance per clock over the original Krait CPU (Krait 200) through a handful of low level microarchitectural tweaks that we've gone through here. The Krait 300 design also allegedly improves the ability to run at higher frequencies without resorting to higher voltages. This isn't the first time we've talked about Snapdragon 600, but since then a few things have come to light.


Snapdragon 600 from HTC One - Chipworks

For starters, Chipworks got their hands on a Snapdragon 600 SoC (from an HTC One) and delayered the SoC. In its investigation, Chipworks discovered that Snapdragon 600 had the exact same die area as the previous generation Snapdragon S4 Pro (APQ8064). Also, although you'd expect APQ8064T markings on the chip itself, the part carried the same APQ8064 label as previous S4 Pro designs. 


Avenger 2 Markings on Snapdragon 600 die from HTC One - Chipworks

Chipworks did note however that there were some subtle differences between a standard APQ8064 and the Snapdragon 600 SoC from the HTC One. The Snapdragon 600 from the One is labeled with an Avenger2 codename rather than Avenger, the latter was apparently present on prior APQ8064 designs. Chipworks also noticed differences in the topmost metal layer, although it's not clear whether or not they stopped there or found no differences in lower layers.

All of this points to a much more subtle set of physical differences between APQ8064 and the earliest Snapdragon 600s. Metal layer changes are often used to fix bugs in silicon without requiring a complete respin which can be costly and create additional delays. It's entirely possible that Krait 300 was actually just a bug fixed Krait 200, which would explain the identical die size and slight differences elsewhere.

That brings us to the Galaxy S 4. It's immediately apparent that something is different here because Samsung is shipping the Snapdragon 600 at a higher frequency than any other OEM. The Krait 300 cores in SGS4 can run at up to 1.9GHz vs. 1.7GHz for everyone else. Curiously enough, 1.9GHz is the max frequency that Qualcomm mentioned when it first announced Snapdragon 600.

Samsung is obviously a very large customer, so at first glance we assumed it could simply demand a better bin of Snapdragon 600 than its lower volume competitors. Looking a bit deeper however, we see that the Galaxy S 4 uses something different entirely.

APQ8064 from a Snapdragon 600 based HTC One - Chipworks

Digging through the Galaxy S 4 kernel source we see references to an APQ8064AB part. As a recap, APQ8064 was the first quad-core Krait 200 SoC with no integrated modem, more commonly referred to as Snapdragon S4 Pro. APQ8064T was supposed to be its higher clocked/Krait 300 based successor that ended up with the marketing name Snapdragon 600. APQ8064AB however is, at this point, unique to the Galaxy S 4 but still carries the Snapdragon 600 marketing name.

If we had to guess, we might be looking at an actual respin of the APQ8064 silicon in APQ8064AB. Assuming Qualcomm isn't playing any funny games here, APQ8064AB may simply be a respin capable of hitting higher frequencies. We'll have to keep a close eye on this going forward, but it's clear to me that the Galaxy S 4 is shipping with something different than everyone else who has a Snapdragon 600 at this point.

Battery Life & Charging CPU Performance
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  • heleymartin88 - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    From hands-free gesture controls to a “photobomb”-erasing feature, here’s why you’ll want the Samsung Galaxy S4.6 Reasons to get the Samsung Galaxy S4 check out..... http://is.gd/tDlFss Reply
  • Mugur - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    Brian, can you please have a head to head comparison between the Exinos and Qualcomm variants of the S4? I am really curios whether the Octa really means something in terms of battery and performance... Reply
  • 1ndian - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    I think, Samsung's design is more repairable. So, for most of the people, its design is practical, easily repairable, makes the parts cheap and longer availability of parts compared to other phones... Yes they could have offered a better hardware design. But the amount of useful customization on the software side cannot be overlooked. I think software is the way to go because the hardware by itself is basically useless. Samsung's is the most customized OS in the android market. And, that hasn't affected the device's battery life or performance is a great achievement. So, as much as I hate the look of the phone... I will have to say the cost of the phone is worth it. Just for argument sake, how much do you think iPhone or SZ would cost with as many features as S4? Reply
  • sAiyAnstAr - Thursday, May 02, 2013 - link

    If the build quality is good, then it wouldn't need to be repaired. Reply
  • mandywong - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    Galaxy S 4 is an amalgamation of various cutting-edge smartphone advancements and features of today - http://bit.ly/11vUzb3 Reply
  • SmileyDT - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    Soon i will have it in my hands but once more the back cover is not the best and you can't use it withaout a case.. One drop and you have to search your pockets very deep! I'am looking for S4 cases and so far i have found only http://www.caseutopia.com to order some protection cases... better be safe than sorry. I hope someday samsung will produce smartphones with stronger materials. This is the only negative i find on this phone everything else is cool! Reply
  • MidianSpawned - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    Whaa Plastic... Whaa aluminum... Noooo HTC is best... Nut uh Samsung is better... Ya know what.. I have a Galaxy Note 2, am very happy with it. Get whatever phone suits you best, but before you buy, know this... Not a single phone out there tastes as good as, or, looks as good as pussy... Pussy, because any phone can order a pizza. That is all! Reply
  • rauelius - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    If you compare them, please remember to mention that the Galaxy S4 only offers 9GB of storage for Apps(SD-Cards don't do anything to increase storage for most functions) where as the HTC One offers 25GB for available storage. Music and Pictures can be streamed/uploaded via the Cloud and those are the only two things that the SD-Card really will do for the Galaxy S4. With games getting bigger and bigger and Google Music streaming the minuscule amount of storage on the Galaxy S4 makes the phone feel pointless combined with the excellent underlying hardware. It's like having a Ferrari with a Lawnmower's gastank, where as the HTC One is a Lamborghini with an actual gastank. Reply
  • Dug - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    I'll admit I got the One for the looks and the camera. But I've found I really like Sense5 and Blinkfeed. Before I got it I thought I would never use it, now I use it constantly. There's a lot about touchwiz I don't like. All personal preference though. Reply
  • emkei - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - link

    It's funny when article was about cpu/gpu performance and people comment on looks/cover...I guess people cannot read.... Reply

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