What if Qualcomm were to become the thorn in Nvidia's side in the race for the fastest mobile multicore? With its presence on Android tablets eclipsed by its availability on mobile phones, Qualcomm needed to one-up Nvidia's Tegra 3, which has been blowing its horn on countless devices, including Google's Nexus 7.
The California chip maker's fans and shareholders were in need of reassurance after multiple setbacks when its Snapdragon S4 processor suffered stock shortages and manufacturing delays that will surely not be entirely remedied until late 2012, at the earliest.
So the new Snapdragon S4 Pro is also an effort to gain back a bit of the brand's standing. It's a quad-core processor—whereas the S4 was "just" a dual-core—clocked at 1.5 GHz (it's an in-house ARM Cortex A15). But the CPU isn't the only thing in the box. Let's not forget the tablet which houses it, the 10.1" (1366 x 720) APQ8064, designed and sold by Qualcomm. And as these things go, the tablet is more than just a chip; it also contains a next gen Adreno 320 graphics card (with a new architecture and power-saving capabilities), 2 GB of RAM, a 13-Megapixel camera and Ice Cream Sandwich.
The APQ8064 is being sold in the US for $1,300. Designed more for developers than the mainstream consumer, it has been optimised to turn the Snapdragon S4 Pro into a veritable work horse.
GLBenchmark graphics test run by AnandTech
The raw tests run by some of our colleagues in attendance at the California launch (sites like AnandTech and SlashGear) confirm this. Except when it comes to graphics—the iPad's A5X still holds the medal there—the S4 Pro, coupled with the Adreno 320, carries the lead across-the-board. In other words, Qualcomm has achieved its goal of outshining its primary competitor, the Nvidia Tegra 3. Even better, it also beats out Samsung's quad-core Exynos, found in the Galaxy S III.
AnTuTu test run by SlashGear
This "Pro" version logically isn't a big change from the dual-core incarnation if we're talking about basic elements, but when it comes to computing this thing really flexes its muscles. Now, like Samsung's Galaxy S3, all the APQ8064 needs to do is find uses and applications that will fully exploit the fire in the chip.
With all these dreams of speed and power being sold to developers and, surely, Qualcomm's prospective partners, we can only hope the company can handle the workload...
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