Why so many Snaprdragons?

Posted Nov 01, 2012 at 4:15 pm in Threads > Smartphones & Tablets

I created this Thread for two purposes,
1. To have a discussion about why Snapdragons are appearing in almost every device.
2. To learn more about Processors from the comments (so if you can school me a bit about their structure then please do so :D)

I have nothing against Snapdragons, but from what I remember, they were more associated with HTC devices some years ago. Now they’re in Samsung/LG/Sony/HTC/Nokia ETC.
Is it because of the LTE networks?
Is it because theyre cheaper to make?

Im a HUGE fan of the Exynos. I loved its predecessor (Hummingbird) in the SGS1 and to be perfectly honest, the fact that it wasnt in the SGS3 deterred me a bit.
Even the Galaxy Nexus had an OMAP – which wasnt bad either. Now the GNote2 has the Exynos and it is a monster, and the S3 still has a snapdragon – Bugs the heck out of me, please help me understand more about the Snapdragon. Why are they being put in almost EVERY device that releases now??

  • www.phonewbie.com

    I cant teach you much on this topic but i have read several articles that proves that it is the best and fastest available right now for Android devices (according to benchmarks). It really out performs Tegra 3. The OMAP im the Galaxy Nexus is ot that good if you ask me, I have one Im glad its in the Nexus 4.

    • www.phonewbie.com

      Suppose to say: *i have a galaxy nexus. Im glad the S4 Pro is in the nexus 4*

    • Joel

      As you say that I remember the benchmarks between Tegra and S4 on the One X when it first released – Good point.

  • redraider133

    Qualcomm seems to usually always have their chips in many devices and for awhile they were the only ones who could get lte to play nice with their chips hence why we just now are seeing the likes of tegra and samsungs exynos chips making it stateside with lte on board. Plus their line of s4 chips really upped the ante and became the chips everyone was trying to best.

    • Joel

      I see, that makes alot of sense.

  • Bpear96

    Snapdragon chips currently provide the most energy efficient LTE usage. One reason why the international gs3 and one x both didn’t use it (exynos and tegra 3) is because they also lacked lte

    Main reason its so energy efficient is because qualcomm has the resources to build the radios, cpu and gpu all on one SoC, (most other manufactures just build the gpu and cpu on same chip)

    So the lte radio, wifi radio, bluetooth, radeon gpu, and 2 krait cores are all on the same chip in the snapdragon s4 (non pro)

    nVidia recently acquired “Icera Inc” who develops radio/modems, nVidia is now building Icera lte, gsm etc radios into there tegra SoC (the one X+ with lte has this)

    The new krait architecture is pretty sweet though, its not cortex a9 or a15 its custom made by qualcomm , almost on par with cortex a15, but with longer battery life etc. It was the closest thing we had to cortex a15 till other manufactures starting producing cortex a15 chips (exynos 5 , tegra 4 etc), though the gpu is somewhat lacking, but the new GPU in the S4 Pro (nexus 4) is much improved.

    • Joel

      “So the lte radio, wifi radio, bluetooth, radeon gpu, and 2 krait cores are all on the same chip in the snapdragon s4 (non pro”

      Crap I had no clue! Im sure I could have researched that online but I doubt I would have found such a simply worded explanation lol.
      Thats actually pretty interesting – thanks.

  • jamal adam

    One main reason why Snapdragon S4 processors are used in all these devices is because for the past year, it was the only mobile processor that had 4G LTE built right into it. As a result, carriers wanted their smartphones to use LTE and so Snapdragon was the only viable option. Another is that the S4 processors are very efficient with battery life and that is an important factor in phones. When compared to the Tegra 3 or the others, the S4 was better.

    The S4 Play, Pro, and Prime all use Qualcomm’s new Krait CPU design, which is similar to the Cortex A15 but it’s built in house by Qualcomm from the ground up. Since they build it themselves, they have a lot more control and flexibility over how they want to build their processors. The Tegra 3, OMAP 4, and Exynos 4 series all use last generations Cortex A9 architecture, which cannot compare to the A15 or the Krait CPU and it is only uses 45nm, which is nothing compared to a 28nm or 32nm. Also, since the S4 processors are using 28nm, they have a much lower power consumption when compared to the 45nm Cortex A9.

    We’ll see how the Snapdragon S4 performs next to the up and coming Exynos 5250, Tegra 4, OMAP 5, which will as use the A15 architecture. It should be really interesting when the come out. For example, the Exynos 5250 looks to be a beast, it’s currently on the Chromebook and the recently announced Nexus 10.

    This is what I understand to be some of the reasons why Snapdragon S4 processors are on so many devices at the moment.

    • TheDave

      Great summation of why Snapdragon wins, for now. Allow me to jump in a bit.

      32/28 nm are called a die process. Smaller die processes lead to increased power management, less heat leakage, and other stability improvements. This is somewhat separate from an architecture (A9-A15 ARM Cortex is what we see now, Intel is coming with some other stuff soon I bet), which is a design of the overall processor itself (data flow, etc).

      Speaking of Intel, they use a process called hyerthreading, which you see as something like 2 core, 4 thread. This is a proprietary tech that simulates having 4 cores of data processing with only two hardware cores. Many of their Core i series have this tech.

      If you have any more questions ask away, but I wanted to add this along to the above post so you have some background. Feel free to ask anything else.

    • trailblazerz

      Correct me if I am wrong but Cortex A-15 was never meant to replace A-9.
      A-15 concentrates on performance to compete with Intel while A-9 are about using the lowest power consumption while getting decent performance.

      Thats why A-15 so far has only appeared on Samsung’s Chormebook and tablets. (probably could have used it on Note 2) It would use too much power on a smartphone, especially quad. ARM seems to suggest pairing 2 A-15′s with 2 A-8(i think) to conserve power and use A-8 when not running heavy CPU processes.

      Qualcomm has a license to modify ARM architecture so S4 seems to try to get the performance of A-15 without sacrificing A-9 power consumption which is why it is currently the top SoC for smartphones. Other SoC competition i.e. Exynos can only base directly from A-9 or A-15 And as mentioned above A-15 currently uses too much battery (Though I believe Apple’s A6x swift follows similar idea however they use in-house)

  • Joel

    Jamal, TheDave, and trailblazerz – you guys have enlightened my face off! lol Thanks a ton.

    So guys, what are your expectations for the SoCs that are gonna be based on the A-15 Architecture compared to the current S4? Will it still be able to hold its own?

    Are in-house built processors always ahead of the curve than those that arent?

    • TheDave

      In-house development is a mixed bag, but seems to work well with Exynos by Samsung. Often those departments are separate and don’t interact as much as it would seem.

      A15 Cortex will be incorporated into current lines at the available die process. Samsung is at 32/28 nm, Snapdragons are 28nm on a hybrid A15 already.

      A lot of A15 real-life performance and incorporation into current SoCs is still to be determined.

      I can tell you, the Exynos 5450 will power the GS4 in all likelihood. 28nm, A15, 4 cores at 2.0GHz, aka a damn good laptop processor. Intel has a 22nm planned with 2 cores and 4 threads and who knows if any other pipelines will keep coming. Tegra 4 will be A15, Snapdragon S5 is unknown at this point.

      CES 2013 will showcase many of these im guessing.

  • Joel

    Gotcha – Then this CES is gonna be one helluva show then. Then again, when isnt it?

    As much as it pains me to say it, I just may have to wait until the SGS4 – My sprint contract is up 3/14 and just feel like this is a bad time to buy/switch anything. Hurts like hell to sit and watch though.

    • TheDave

      Early in the year. Late Jan or early Feb. I forget the exact dates.

      There are always better toys coming down the pipe, no matter when you upgrade. Wait for your contract to go up and look at the landscape and make the best choice for you. I agree, though, nobody likes sitting on the sidelines while new stuff comes out.

      Glad I could help out. I learned from others, so I guess its my turn to pass the knowledge on.

  • CTown

    Qualcomm has been making processors of what seem forever now, so they have a lot of expirence. So, I think PART of what makes the Snapdragon so sucessful is that Qualcomm essentially ignores the ARM refrence specification to do its own thing. Which means Qualcomm has a purpose for these chips. One sees many devices based off some no-name ARM processor, Samsung and TI try to get their processers in everything (with Samsung even selling an Exynos refrence board). But does Qualcomm do the same; no, the Snapdragon is meant and optimized for smartphones.