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Qualcomm's New Snapdragons are Backwards-Compatible

By - Source: Qualcomm | B 14 comments

Dual-core is about to become the low-end smartphone standard thanks to Qualcomm's two new Snapdragon SoCs.

On Friday, Qualcomm introduced two new additions to its Snapdragon S4 class of mobile processors: the MSM8625 and the MSM8225 chipsets. These two SoCs will come packed with dual-core CPUs clocked up to 1 GHz, the Adreno 203 GPU and an integrated 3G modem.

However the best part about the new Snapdragons is that they are hardware and software compatible with the older MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A family of chipsets, making it easy for manufacturers of low-end smartphones to migrate from S1 to S4 designs, expanding their product lines in a cost effective way. Essentially, this means handset makers will be able to swap the faster SoCs into existing designs.

In addition to the new SoCs, Qualcomm has also launched the third-generation of its Qualcomm Reference Design ecosystem program (QRD) so that third party device manufacturers can develop differentiated high volume smartphones with lower development costs and a faster time to market. It comes with a "comprehensive set of software and hardware components" that are pre-tested and optimized for Qualcomm's chips to help accelerate the overall design process.

"This allows device manufacturers to focus their engineering resources on developing value-added features that will help make their high-volume smartphone stand out from the competition," the company said. "The QRD ecosystem program is designed to help device manufacturers developing products for regions whose networks are evolving from 2G to 3G and high volume smartphones are becoming increasingly popular."

On Friday Qualcomm said the MSM8625 and MSM8225 chipsets will be available on its third generation QRD development platform in the first half of 2012 in addition to being available as standalone chipsets. QRD development platforms based on both the MSM7x27A and MSM7x25A chipsets are currently available.

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  • 8 Hide
    joytech22 , December 10, 2011 11:10 PM
    Pretty amazing how dual-core CPU's will soon be in low-range devices..
    Here I was last year thinking my Galaxy S was high-end, I mean it's still pretty powerful but in comparison to today's devices and with the upcoming Tegra 3..

    The phone space is REALLY moving along fast.
    I like that a lot. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    illfindu , December 10, 2011 11:11 PM
    So Old phones with new fancy names and II added to the end's of them and new chips thrown in? This would be nice if the prices would reflect this but we are gonna see old model phones with these new chips that where 100-200$ going for 400$. Would be interesting to see some kinda upgrade plan where you could buy a old model plan and pay a little extra to have it shipped with the upgraded chips.
  • 1 Hide
    thesnappyfingers , December 11, 2011 12:22 AM
    wonder if there will be a day where the consumer will be able to simply upgrade their phone like they do a pc.

    Perhaps it is already here, I wouldn't know. Break to many phones to warrant purchasing nice ones.
  • Display all 14 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    whitey_rolls , December 11, 2011 1:08 AM
    For a mobile device noob, how does the Snapdragon compare to the Tegra chip? All things being even say dual core 1 ghz chip?
  • 0 Hide
    beetlejuicegr , December 11, 2011 5:42 AM
    I wonder if i can detach my nexus one snapdragon and reflow the new one buahahah
  • 0 Hide
    razor512 , December 11, 2011 7:43 AM
    whitey_rollsFor a mobile device noob, how does the Snapdragon compare to the Tegra chip? All things being even say dual core 1 ghz chip?

    for the current gen snapdragon chips vs a tegra 2, It takes a dual core snapdragon running at around 1.2-1.3GHz to match the CPU performance of a tegra 2 CPU (at least it seems that way from my benchmarking on my HP touchpad running android and the various benchmarking apps (though android is in beta and performance is not completely taken care of yet.

    For GPU performance the the snapdragon crushes the tegra 2 easily though not the tegra 3

    PS the snapdragon CPU's are pretty good at overclocking. currently they top out at about 1.9GHz for their dual core chips easily making it the fastest dual core arm chip on the market. (in my testing, the overclocked HP touchpad (android limited me to 1.7GHz) was able to beat every other non overclocked mobile CPU in the benchmarking apps except the new tegra 3 tablets (which use quad core, but even then it was only like around 40% faster)

    (not sure about the performance per clock of the MSM8625 though)

    With tablets and ARM devices in general becoming more popular, I think it will be great if tomshardware can benchmark these mobile CPU's
  • 1 Hide
    razor512 , December 11, 2011 7:48 AM
    PS it would be great if these companies can come out with new chips eg quad core or dual core running at a significantly higher clock speed and maintain compatibility and pinout so users who are more skilled with surface mount soldering can take their old phones or tablets then simply grab a heat gun then desolder the old chip and solder in a new one and enjoy a good CPU upgrade.

  • 0 Hide
    freggo , December 11, 2011 10:24 AM
    Hmmm, replacing a surface mount CPU in a smart phone as a home project. Yeah, I can see how that can have mass appeal :-)
  • 0 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , December 11, 2011 5:37 PM
    Are the S1 Snapdragons the ones in Windows Phones? Does this mean we might finally see some dual-core Windows Phones on the market?

    Also, I can't seem to find any benchmarks of the Adreno 203 GPU. I assume it's slower than the 205, but I'm wondering how it compares to other GPUs on the market.
  • 0 Hide
    joytech22 , December 11, 2011 8:01 PM
    ZingamTegra 3 isn't so great actually. It's overhyped. See the iPad 2 chip is more powerful. It appears that at least for an year we won't have anything extraordinary on the Android side.


    The iPad 2 chip is from Samsung. :o 
    Go samsung! lol
  • 1 Hide
    razor512 , December 11, 2011 8:39 PM
    In terms of raw CPU power, the ipad 2 CPU is at a similar speed to the tegra 2 CPU

    The only area where the ipad 2 excels in is the GPU

    The GPU in the ipad 2 is faster than that of any tablet (not 100% sure of the tegra 3 though)

    With the graphics on games for ipad 2 that are also available for other tablets, I am pretty sure that no tablet game is using the full power of the ipad GPU horsepower
  • 1 Hide
    Vladislaus , December 11, 2011 8:50 PM
    ZingamTegra 3 isn't so great actually. It's overhyped. See the iPad 2 chip is more powerful. It appears that at least for an year we won't have anything extraordinary on the Android side.

    Benchmarks disagree with you.
  • 0 Hide
    blackened144 , December 12, 2011 1:44 PM
    ZingamTegra 3 isn't so great actually. It's overhyped. See the iPad 2 chip is more powerful. It appears that at least for an year we won't have anything extraordinary on the Android side.

    Your comment is only correct on the GPU side of the performance equation.. The 5 CPU cores in Tegra3 make it the best available on the CPU side of the equation..
  • 0 Hide
    blackened144 , December 12, 2011 1:49 PM
    Razor512In terms of raw CPU power, the ipad 2 CPU is at a similar speed to the tegra 2 CPUThe only area where the ipad 2 excels in is the GPUThe GPU in the ipad 2 is faster than that of any tablet (not 100% sure of the tegra 3 though)With the graphics on games for ipad 2 that are also available for other tablets, I am pretty sure that no tablet game is using the full power of the ipad GPU horsepower

    You are correct, the iPad2 does have the fastest GPU in any tablet.. Some older versions of the OpenGL benchmark(Pre 2.1) show Tegra3 as being 20% faster and only on the Egypt benchmark, but in the newest version of the benchmark (2.1) the iPad2 is 20% faster than the Tegra3 on that same Egypt benchmark.. I believe Anand has a few reviews with the benchmarks showing this..