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Monday, 10 October 2011 12:11

Qualcomm sheds light on Snapdragon Krait

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Single to quad core, up to 2.5GHz


Qualcomm has released a white paper on improvements in its new Krait generation of Snapdragon processors which should appear sometime next year.

Built on a 28nm process, Krait will probably bear the S4 series brand and it will be available in single, dual and quad core variants. Thanks to the 28nm process, Qualcomm feels confident it can push the new processors all the way up to 2.5GHz. Quite impressive, considering most ARM processors in smartphones and tablets currently run at 1GHz, while a few are clocked between 1.2GHz and 1.5GHz.

Qualcomm will rely on Adreno graphics for the new chip, in dual and quad core versions. However, unlike Nvidia’s Kal-El, or Tegra 3, the new chip doesn’t feature a fifth “companion” core. Qualcomm believes it can conserve power by adjusting the clock and voltage on each individual core, without the need for yet another complex core.

In terms of performance, Qualcomm promises to deliver a 60 percent boost over its current generation processors, with a 25 to 40 reduction in power consumption. The new Adreno 225 graphics core should be twice as fast as the Adreno 220 and it will support DirectX 9.3.

Krait could easily give Kal-El a run for its money, but Nvidia will manage to ship its processor a bit earlier, mainly because it is the only chipmaker to stick to the 40nm process for its next generation quad-core ARM chips. In addition, Krait will also be available in single and dual core flavours, which could attain rather high clocks. The only big question is when Qualcomm will manage to ship it.

Last modified on Monday, 10 October 2011 12:16
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Comments  

 
0 #1 ajvitaly 2011-10-10 14:32
Krait dual core sounds like it will be ultra competitive in the smart phone space. But Krait is going to have problems gaining significant traction in tablets; Tegra3 will be 6 months ahead of Krait AND according to Nvidia's roadmap they will counter Krait with Tegra3+ - likely a 28nm shrink of Tegra3.
 
 
+1 #2 Exodite 2011-10-10 18:14
Quoting ajvitaly:
Krait dual core sounds like it will be ultra competitive in the smart phone space.



This snippet doesn't paint the whole picture, go to Anandtech to read up on the new architecture in more detail.

In short it's not just higher clocks, Krait also offers massively improved IPC as well as a built-in baseband which supports both CDMA, GSM, WCDMA and LTE.

That alone is going to make it hard to beat.

Tegra 3 will definitely make it faster to market, maybe by as much as 6 months, but much like Tegra 2 it's not going to be anywhere near the best-in-class level SoC once Qualcomm, TI and Samsung gets rolling.
 
 
0 #3 ajvitaly 2011-10-10 19:40
Quoting Exodite:
Tegra 3 will definitely make it faster to market, maybe by as much as 6 months, but much like Tegra 2 it's not going to be anywhere near the best-in-class level SoC once Qualcomm, TI and Samsung gets rolling.


As I said, Nvidia is going to die shrink Tegra3 to 28nm (hence, Tegra3+ on their roadmap) and release it with higher clock speeds to stay competitive vs. what will be out in mid 2012.

Krait isn't going to leapfrog Tegra3, and being six months after T3 and six months before T4 will make it difficult for Krait to gain significant traction in the tablet space.
 
 
0 #4 Exodite 2011-10-10 19:54
Quoting ajvitaly:
Krait isn't going to leapfrog Tegra3...



Did you read the article in question? Krait improves IPC by 33% over Cortex A9, in addition to the obvious clock increases.

Obviously both Krait and Tegra 3 is by far enough for any reasonable usage scenario today but Krait represents a generational shift where Tegra 3 is essentially a refresh.

Shrinking to 28nm won't change that, though obviously Nvidia has more stuff in the pipe as well.
 
 
-2 #5 eddman 2011-10-10 21:47
Quoting Exodite:
Did you read the article in question? Krait improves IPC by 33% over Cortex A9, in addition to the obvious clock increases.

It doesn't automatically mean that it would always be faster. In single and dual threaded situations dual-core krait will be faster but in heavy multi-tasking situations and heavily threaded apps tegra 3 will perform better.

Initial krait based chips will be 1.5-1.7 GHz and dual-core. Quad-core models with speeds ranging from 2.0 to 2.5 GHz will come much later, 4Q 2012-1Q 2013 which means devices based on them will come out no sooner than 2Q/3Q 2013, and by then it would have to compete against the 28nm quad-core A15 based wayne...
 
 
-1 #6 eddman 2011-10-10 21:51
The rest of my previous post:

As ajvitaly mentioned, dual-core krait devices will come about 6 months after tegra 3 so they are not direct competitors. By then it would go up against the (probably) 28nm tegra 3 with higher clock speed.

It would still be a "higher IPC vs. more cores" situation, but this time krait won't have a frequency advantage. We shall wait and see what the outcome would be.
 
 
0 #7 guideX 2011-10-11 03:19
Quoting eddman:
It would still be a "higher IPC vs. more cores" situation, but this time krait won't have a frequency advantage. We shall wait and see what the outcome would be.

Qualcomm has more IP, licensing rights and experience than TI, Samsung and Nvidia combined. Remember when the 1Ghz QSD8250 was like the only chip in use throughout 2010? That's because while Nvidia, TI and Samsung just copied the ARM A8 reference, Qualcomm actually competed and made Scorpion, now they are releasing Krait, it will destroy A9 but possibly be beaten by A15 which is scheduled for release in 2013 so there is another year for Qualcomm to completely dominate.
 
 
+1 #8 eddman 2011-10-11 10:57
@guideX
I know all that and I know krait is faster than A9. Yes, throughout 2012 most manufacturers will go for dual-core krait chips but if they want a quad-core chip then they'll go for kal-el and kal-el+ even if they're A9 based. Samsung already showed a tablet running kal-el and ZTE has one too.

TI doesn't have any quads in its 2012 roadmap, samsung probably has but won't sell it to others, and as I said quad kraits won't come until very late 2012, early 2013.

Tegra 3 and tegra 3+ won't beat dual-core krait in sales numbers but they'd have some design wins nevertheless.
 
 
0 #9 fteoath64 2011-10-12 12:58
All the more reason for Intel to grab an ARM license and get into this game while it is brewing for handset, tablet, ultra-light PC market which continues to erode the PC market. With their design expertise and fab technology, this is a SURE Win for them. Ego aside.

In fact, AMD should have jumped into this before as you can see nVidia has done fairly well in it.
 

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