Autore: ExtremeTech

As new mobile devices run more demanding software, the need for processing power has skyrocketed. One of the companies that has been supplying that power is Qualcomm with its line of Snapdragon ARM systems-on-a-chip (SoC). The new Snapdragon 600 chips are certainly fast, but that’s nothing compared to the upcoming Snapdragon 800. Qualcomm is finally showing us what this SoC can do, and it’s going to knock your smartphone’s sock off.

The Snapdragon 800, previously only known as the MSM8974, is based on the company’s new Krait 400 application processor, which can be clocked as high as 2.3GHz. (Remember not too many years ago when that was an impossible clock speed for desktop CPUs?) The chip utilizes TSMC’s 28nm manufacturing process, which allows for a compact die that produces less heat, even at these insane clocks. It also has LTE radios built-in.

On the GPU side, the Snapdragon 800 has an Adreno 330 as part of the package. This is a substantial improvement over the Snapdragon 600’s Adreno 320. The 330 has some low-level architectural improvements and is clocked at 450Mhz. It’s capable of pushing 4K resolutions (2160p). Qualcomm even used the Snapdragon 800 to demo 4K content playing on a Sony 4K TV over microHDMI. That is very impressive for a mobile chip, especially as devices like the Nexus 10 push resolution higher.

Unlike other ARM manufacturers, Qualcomm doesn’t use the standard ARM Cortex architecture. Instead, it license the ARM instruction set and designs its own cores (Krait). The benchmarks on Snapdragon 800 show the four Krait 400 cores holding their own against the four Cortex-A15 cores in Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa.

Benchmarks

In web benchmarks Qualcomm’s Krait-based SoC manages to barely edge out the Cortex competition, or at least get close in all the tests. Synthetic processing analysis is an even clearer win for Qualcomm — some benchmarks show Snapdragon 800 besting the Exynos 5 Octa by 20-30%.

When it comes to synthetic GPU performance, the Snapdragon 800 dominates the Android competition. It’s basically twice as fast as the Exynos 5 Octa in most tests. The Tegra 3 with its four Cortex-A9 processors is only showing a fraction of the performance Qualcomm is managing. These same benchmarks actually show Apple’s quad-core PowerVR SGX 554MP4 GPU in the A6x beating Snapdragon 800. However, simulated game benchmarks again show Qualcomm way out in the lead by 10-30%. This is likely a more accurate representation of the performance users can expect.

Benchmark GPU

When compared to desktop GPUs the Adreno 330 does fairly well. It’s about one-third slower than the Core i5 Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics — dangerously close to real modern desktop performance in a tiny high-efficiency chip.

When Snapdragon 800 begins showing up in phones and tablets this fall, it’s going to be the gold standard for ARM computing. Krait 400 matches or beats Cortex-A15 in most tests, and the Adreno 330 GPU offers a significant performance boost. Snapdragon 600, Exynos 5, and all the rest are great parts, but Snapdragon 800 might be the one to wait for if you want the best.

Now read: ARM Cortex-A12 and Mali-T622: The mid-range muscle that ARM desperately needs