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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  • CoryS - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    The Droid X had a metal back plate, without a mechanical release. It also always came off in your pocket.. Reply
  • zero2dash - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    I'd rather have a plastic shell with a removable battery and a microSD slot than a metal frame with neither.

    But hey, whatever's most important to you...
    Reply
  • xype - Thursday, April 25, 2013 - link

    How often have you removed/changed your smartphone battery in the past? Just curious how often people who find the feature important use it (since I don’t know anyone who does so in real life). Reply
  • CoryS - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    I did it daily with my Gnex. But, never have had the need with any other phone. The peace of mind is nice though. I think I have found I no longer need to swap batteries as much because I have changed my usage model to the battery life of the device...meaning I don't use my phone as much so it doesn't die. Reply
  • RiotSloth - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    I have an S3 with 2 batteries - I don't think I have ever swapped the battery out because I have a charger in my car and at work. Love dragging those batteries around and keeping them charged though.... and of course people buy phones because of how they look or what they are - saying that isn't so is just denial. Just because tech geeks don't doesn't mean others don't. How many people do you know who have phones they barely know how to use, but bought because they had heard its 'the one to get'? Reply
  • Androidtech - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    For all of you talking about removable batteries. I have both the Galaxy S3 and the HTC EVO 4g LTE. Out of these two phones the Galaxy S3 is my primary phone while the HTC Evo tags along and gets used randomly when I think about it. This is because I use my phone constantly and I stream podcast all day long at work to a bluetooth speaker. When I run one battery down I just pop in the other one and start charging the backup with the handy dandy Sammy battery/charger combo pack. Since my job is one that I am always on the move this is a great feature for me. I build oilfield pump packages and rebuild Industrial gearboxes like those used in ships and sugar mills.The ones in the ship turn the giant propellers and the ones in the sugar mills turn giant grinders. I also do welding and fabrication. So in a job like this I am always getting tools and moving from one part of a project to the next part or the next project. I am almost always standing up. This is much different than an office job where I could just plug my phone in at my desk. Even then why would I want a wire attached to my phone. Personally I would prefer a metal phone with a mechanically removable back maybe like the HTC Amaze 4g. Also as far as the case discussion goes There is no way I would use either of my phones with out a case and screen protector especially in my work environment. I like to keep my devices in top shape so when I am ready to get a new one next year I can sell it for top dollar or hand it over to my wife so I can use her upgrade again. That way I can say hey baby here is a nice phone and it still looks brand new ! She does not care about the latest and greatest or the fact that she is a year or two behind current technology and I always have the newest thing out since I am rotating 4 upgrades if you include my stepsons phone. You see there really is no reason to argue or try to decide which phone is better just get one HTC phone and one Samsung phone and enjoy the different qualities that each brings forth. Just be the one that pays for the famliy mobile Bill and you too can use everyones upgrade and stay on top of the cutting edge handset race. Works for me ! Reply
  • Dug - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    I don't know anyone or have seen anyone that changes their battery. In a company of 200 tech geeks I would think that this would be the majority and probably why HTC went away from it. Reply
  • TedKord - Thursday, May 02, 2013 - link

    I'm a very heavy user. Hours of streaming Netflix, surfing endlessly. I can carry a second battery, and just swap out when the first runs down. I don't have to worry about carrying a plug,

    So to answer your question, I have at times swapped out my battery every day for months on end. Now, I'm rocking a 4500mah extended battery, and I always make it through the day.

    I have a buddy at work who had an iPhone 4s, and it's battery had nearly died. He was getting a couple of hours max, but was out of warranty. He'd have killed for a swappable battery. Instead, after using my SGS3 and being impressed, he went out and got a Note 2, and left Apple all together. He hasn't regretted it a bit.
    Reply
  • RiotSloth - Saturday, May 11, 2013 - link

    Although you can change the battery in an iPhone fairly easily... or he could buy a mophie. I think everything has been said now about batteries - to some people it matters, to others it doesn't. Reply
  • redchar - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    I'm shocked to hear on a tech site that there's a person who would prefer the HTC One. And why not plastic? It's no mystery why plastic is a popular material. It's lightweight, cost efficient, and comes in a variety of styles and textures to allow creativity and good looks (granted, samsung's plastic is rather bland compared to the type you'd find on older HTC phones). Beyond that, plastic even has

    /plasticity/

    That's right. A type of material that withstands drops instead of denting, being put on mobile devices such as laptops and phones. Crazy, right? I wish HTC would go back to plastic, among other bad changes they've made.

    And to top it off, the HTC One, like many "high end" HTC phones as of late, does not include a memory slot or a removable battery. With such useful, and easy-to-implement features, it's a wonder that anyone would consider it a high end phone. And no surprise that galaxy phones all sell very well during a time where the industry is leaving out major functionality and at the same time struggling to sell as many units as they'd like (I wonder why?).

    While the SGS4 is by no means a perfect device (it's too large, and with a pointlessly high resolution screen that might impact performance in some way [perhaps battery life as a result of trying to maintain good screen brightness, or stressing the GPU more]), it does contain a list of features that you'd expect for a phone of its price. The only thing the HTC One has over it is the sort of camera people wanted all along: quality, not megapixels.
    Reply

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