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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  • MilwaukeeMike - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    While I understand you're point, there are a lot of people who disagree with you. The iPhone has no SD card, no removable battery and is made out of metal and it's sold quite well. I've always ripped them for leaving out a card slot and charging $100 for an extra 16GB. But HTC gives you 32GB in it's base model and charges more for an extra 32, not 16. They also have USB on-the-go, which allows your phone to host a USB drive with a $3 adapter. Sure, that's a workaround, but it's enough for me. No removable battery is a bit of a bummer, but my battery is still going strong 30 months later in my current phone, so I'm not worried about it getting old and dying. I also have chargers everywhere because micro USB is so common, so I'm not worried about getting stranded either. Reply
  • Thegonagle - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    Plastic is lower cost than metal for Samsung, but not necessarily for me. As a consumer, Samsung's cost is irrelevant. Please don't mention the cost merits of plastic until the S4 is less expensive than the HTC One. Reply
  • crypticsaga - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    ^This. I don't understand why with the iphone5 and HTC one available anyone would buy a Samsung S. You get less for more money. If you make the argument about battery and SD card then I would expect that you use more than 32GB of space and carry around a spare battery in your pocket. The funny thing is I have yet to meet a samsung owner who actually does. Reply
  • danbob999 - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    You get a faster SoC, more sensors, a larger display, a smaller and lighter device, a larger battery and more supported LTE bands.
    Not everyone cares about the look of a phone.
    Reply
  • sigmatau - Thursday, April 25, 2013 - link

    You also get a worse screen and speaker than the HTC One. Reply
  • mrochester - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    Those features are of questionable day to day value, however. I gain far more from having a device that looks great every time I use it in comparison to features I might use once in a blue moon, but the device is sinfully ugly. Reply
  • tipoo - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    The SoC is basically a wash between the One and the S4, it's the same SoC just with the slightest amount more speed in one. Reply
  • dyc4ha - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    That is like saying I bought a Ferrari with cheap plastic seats while the same-priced Lambo came with leather seats and it doesnt matter to you. Wha? Reply
  • blue_urban_sky - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    Yes that is exactly what its like saying. because everyone has the same priorities as you and will buy a super car based on seat material. Reply
  • K_Space - Sunday, April 28, 2013 - link

    HTC 32Gb unlocked costs £540 new
    S4 16Gb unlocked costs £615 (refurbished!) (source: amazon.co.uk)
    Is the spec difference (including SD card and removable battery which I have never removed) worth ~$100? No...... not for me at least.
    But horses for courses.
    Reply

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