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.

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  • airspoon - Sunday, June 23, 2013 - link

    Believe it or not, some people actually do consider phones to be a fashion accessory -obviously, because that is what the guy is saying. He is telling you that he does, in fact, consider a phone to be a fashion accessory. I happen to agree with you that it is silly and function before form is certainly motto for smartphones, but unless the guy is your employee then it shouldn't matter to you how he chooses his phone. It's one thing to argue OUR opinion that function beats form in the phone department, but you can't really make a reasonable argument that HIS phone is not a fashion accessory.

    With that said, the function of a non-unibody plastic chassis beats the form of a unibody aluminum chassis any day. Not because it may or may not provide increased sturdiness or less weight, but rather because it allows you crucial access to the battery compartment and storage I/O. Obviously, a unibody chassis cannot provide said access and a non-unibody aluminum chassis would be far too bulky and a lot less sturdy. In fact, a non-unibody aluminum chassis is simply not feasible in a premium phone worth anything. The fact that I can remove or replace the battery and add an SD card is well worth the plastic to me (and I'm sure the vast majority of S4 owners). The benefits of plastic far outweigh any perceived drawbacks. However, those who choose phones based SOLELY on its fashion statement rather than functionality -would obviously prefer the unibody aluminum (as it does arguable look and feel better). Personally, I like the look and feel of the unibody aluminum shells and if the plastic body of the S4 didn't offer the tremendous functional advantages that it does, then I would much prefer an aluminum unibody. However, the ratio of function to form of the S4's plastic non-unibody chassis makes it a "no-brainer" in my opinion. I sure hope Samsung doesn't cave in to the pressure and go aluminum unibody in the S5 to appease the vanity seeking consumers because Samsung would have to sacrifice major function to do so. I like being able to instantly add 64 gigs of storage in an interchangeable medium. I like being able to carry around a spare battery and not have to worry about carrying around a USB cable and looking for a usable plug when I'm traveling or out on the town. I like the peace-of-mind in knowing that the life expectancy of my phone is not dependent on the cheapest commodity batteries that the telecom company could secure. To me, that is well worth the plastic non-unibody design. Again, the function far outweighs the form -even for those who value form.
    Reply
  • speculatrix - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    I'm a form-follows-function person but I agree with Upspin

    If you're paying quite a few hundred for a phone then you want it made of premium materials and to not be ugly.

    Provided the style and materials don't affect performance, which the iphone4 suffered.

    I have a note 2 and would prefer if it had more metal in the outer frame to make it tougher. But I am pretty sure RF performance would suffer if it was totally metal backed.
    Reply
  • danbob999 - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    Metal wouldn't make it tougher. Nobody change its phone because the plastic broke. People change phone because it is too old or because the display is broken.
    You want metal either because you think it looks better, or because it will look more expensive and you want people to know you have an expensive phone.
    Reply
  • patlak - Saturday, May 18, 2013 - link

    So, all these people that buy Mercedes and BMW are dumb? Why should they cash out 20 grand extra when they can just buy a Kia that provides the same functionality as a car, but also with similar engine power and capacity for much much less. Since you sit inside the car all the time, just like your phone sits in the pocket, why would you bother with the premium look. Reply
  • TedKord - Thursday, May 02, 2013 - link

    There's nothing wrong with desiring a product look the way you prefer. But using the glasses analogy, which would you buy? The really stylish pair that doesn't fit your head/nose and only corrects your vision to 20/50, or the ugly pair that fits perfectly and gives you 20/20?

    I know there are more choices, this is just an example to fit the current discussion. I love the HTC One (especially the front speakers), but I'd have to choose the Galaxy S4 (if I really needed a phone right now). The microsd slot and swappable battery are important to me, and Samsung is much better at updates and releasing source for devs. I choose function over form.

    Now, I really wish HTC would at least add the built in kickstand back in. That was a great little touch they had for a while.
    Reply
  • dyc4ha - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    lol look at all the designer labels, appearance matters in real life I assure you. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, April 25, 2013 - link

    He didn't say he would. Reply
  • Reikon - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    Is it that hard to realize that a lot people don't actually use cases for their phones? Reply
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    I never use a case. Lots of people don't. Quit making excuses for Samsungs cheapness. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    Exactly - mine won't see a case at all.

    I wanted to hold out for my removable battery & SD slot, but since my SGS2 had such poor audio, (thus meaning I often missed calls in a noisy communications / server environment), I gave in, and my new HTC One will arrive tomorrow.

    I might have lived with the plastic though, I had no case on my SGS2, and loved how light it was.

    A 4" version of either the SGS4 or HTC One with no skimping on internals would have me jumping for joy though...
    Reply

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