Final Words

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 is quite possibly its most ambitious SoC to date. The goal? To drive absolute performance while maintaining power efficiency. While Snapdragon 600 was clearly about delivering evolutionary gains in performance, Snapdragon 800 intends to compete with ARM's Cortex A15 and Intel's Bay Trail platform. 

On the CPU performance front, Snapdragon 800's 2.3GHz Krait 400 cores do appear to hold their own quite well against ARM's Cortex A15. In some cases ARM holds the advantage, while in others the higher clocked Krait 400 takes the lead. We still have the question of power to answer, but Qualcomm bets it can deliver A15-like performance without A15-like power thanks to the 28nm HPM process at its foundry partners.

Qualcomm didn't have any power demos setup, so power analysis and battery life performance will have to come at a later date, but the claim is better performance at equivalent platform power as Snapdragon 600.

On the GPU side, we have a new king. Adreno 330 delivers huge performance improvements over Adreno 320 and everything else we've tested thus far. Snapdragon 800 is the new benchmark to beat. It's very clear to me why many tablet designs scheduled for later this year are based on Snapdragon 800 silicon.

The Great Equalizer: Snapdragon 800 vs. PC GPUs
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  • Bob Todd - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    That would be awesome, but I highly doubt it. Unless they radically change their target market for that device, I don't think you'll see a bleeding edge SOC or super high resolution display. It was meant to win back the market share lost to the likes of the budget friendly Kindle/Nook tablets who were eating Google's lunch in the tablet market while using their OS at the core. I just don't see a Snapdragon 800 in a ~$200 device, for the same reasons you don't see Swift or Retina displays in the iPad Mini. I think we're much more likely to see an S4 Pro quad/Adreno 320 (possibly Snapdragon 600?). Even that would be a hell of an upgrade to the existing Tegra 3, and I'd happily throw my Nexus 7 up on eBay for that. Admittedly, I may end up with an x86 Windows 8.1 tablet with Silvermont or Temesh instead of the next Nexus 7 anyway.
  • Krysto - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    "Snapdragon 800 can definitely be quicker than ARM's Cortex A15"

    What does that sentence even mean? You're comparing 2.3 Ghz Krait 400 vs 1.7 Ghz Cortex A15.
  • aryonoco - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    He's comparing what he has (Snapdragon development tablet) with other things that he has.

    Clock frequency is pointless to compare by itself. Sure A15 might be faster clock-for-clock, but it's also more power hungry so you won't be seeing it hit 2.0 Ghz anytime soon. Looks like a Snapdragon 800 can easily clock higher which more than compensates its IPC disadvantage compared to A15 while keeping power usage in check.

    Qualcomm is sitting very comfortable right now. No wonder their market cap is now bigger than Intel, while they have a fraction of Intel's revenue/profits. The market clearly likes what they see from them.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    A15 is already at 1.9GHz with Tegra 4. If A15 was built on 28nm HPM then it would also reach 2.3-2.5GHz. I bet we'll get something like that this year.

    Note there is no evidence A15 uses more power. In S4 tests it seems the Exynos Octa has lower power consumption than Krait.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Just came across this:

    Looks like Tegra 4 still beats it at 1.9GHz. And good to see some tech sites showing native benchmarks.
  • xinthius - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    That isn't the impression I got from the article. CPU wise Tegra 4 edges it, but on the off-screen GPU tests Adreno has a solid lead.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Tegra 4 finally has a fast GPU - nobody has benchmarked it yet but the one available score (Egypt HD at 57fps) suggests it will be a close match with Adreno.
  • sherlockwing - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Tegra 4 is already A15 on HPM and it is capped at 1.9Ghz, no evidence on how much further it can be pushed. Also Exynos Octa have 4 A7s to reduce power consumption, in GSMArena's benches it still fall behind S600 in battery life.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Anand says it is LPM (unlike Tegra 4i, which is HPM):

    The Exynos variant of S4 does indeed fall behind in battery life in the GSMArena test, but that was on talk time and video playback, ie. not related at all to the CPU. QC has a big lead in low-power modems and it shows. Browsing was within 6%, so that confirms that the A15 uses similar power as Krait to get slightly better performance. I'm still hoping Anand will do a full review...
  • aryonoco - Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - link

    Yes, the architecture comparison between A15 and Krait 400 and next-gen Swift will be very interesting.

    Add in Bay Trail and Temash and we CPU enthusiasts are really experiencing a golden age. When was the last time we had so many different competing designs and architectures? When you compare the progress from Scorpion to Krait 200 to Krait 400 (or A9 to A15) in a matter of 2 years... the pace of development in the mobile world is astonishing.

    I'm also relying on Anand to do some full analysis and review of all these architectures once they become available. It's pretty clear that Tegra 4 is going to be cheaper than Snapdragon 800, it would be great to see them side by side, with power analysis and all.

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