Qualcomm Talks About S4 Pro Chip Tech & Future Outlook
Qualcomm has big plans for its next-generation of mobile chip technology.
Qualcomm provided some interesting bits of information on its current plans. According to the company, its current Snapdragon S4 flagship, the MSM8960, already blows the competition away in performance. However, in the world of mobile, power is as much as a concern.
In the case of Qualcomm, higher performance doesn't translate into greater thermal inefficiency, as the slide above shows why the company is the incumbent in the embedded/mobile SoC market. This is supposed to illustrate how hot the competition gets inside a phone when subjected to a heavy workload over time. The Qualcomm's phone is on the left side and, as you can see, as you move out to 20 minutes, it remains very cool. Meanwhile, the competition gets pretty toasty. Qualcomm won't go on record as stating who they're exactly comparing themselves to, but from the hints that were provided, it's clear this is a head to head against Ti and Nvidia.
What's more interesting is the announcement of the S4 MSM8960 Pro, which is poised to ratchet up graphics performance up to 4X by leveraging the new Adreno 320. However, faster gaming performance isn't the only highlight. Originally, the MSM8960 was touted at speeds up 2.0 GHz, and the Pro version is going to provide Qualcomm an opportunity hit that high target. Currently, the non-Pro version is cited as a 1.5 GHz dual-core solution.
Admittedly, the most interesting part of the briefing had nothing to do with raw computational performance. Rather, it was a slide offered up by the modem team, which showed an innovative solution to aggregate frequencies to optimize LTE bandwidth. Right now, the cellular frequencies are often licensed in a scattered mode, and it can be difficult for carriers to allocate a full 20 MHz to achieve the best performance. However, Qualcomm's idea is to patch a bunch of smaller bands together to do just that, kind of bundling a bunch of DSL lines together to achieve fiber optic bandwidth. In theory, this should allow greater flexibility for carriers in rolling out LTE, but this has its risks. If a cellular operator choose to implement what Qualcomm coins Gobi LTE, it's only going to work on a Snapdragon-powered phone. With the competition's SoC and baseband modem, LTE will be limited to the band with the widest frequency range.
Stay tuned for more coverage from Mobile World Congress 2012.