Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Qualcomm Producing Quad-Core S4 for New Laptop Class

By - Source: PC World | B 28 comments

Qualcomm plans to take on Intel's Ultrabook and AMD's "Ultra Thin" with a new quad-core S4 chip packed into a new notebook form factor.

IDG News Service reports that Qualcomm is currently working on a quad-core version of its S4 SoC to be used in a new Windows 8 laptop form factor rivaling Intel's Ultrabook. This new design is expected to be thinner and lighter than Apple's MacBook Air and Intel's Ultrabook, and sport high-resolution screens, longer battery life, always-on connectivity and perhaps even 3D graphics.

"We think much lighter than what Intel calls an ultrabook," said Rob Chandhok, senior vice president at Qualcomm, adding that the lines between high-end smartphones and laptops have started to blur.

Qualcomm typically supplies its Snapdragon SoC for smartphones, but the company is looking to expand out into the PC sector. It has already shipped a few prototype Windows 8-based PCs with Snapdragon chips to developers, but with Intel's mega-push into the mobile PC sector, Qualcomm wants to provide an alternative with built-in 4G support and strong multimedia qualities.

Chandhok didn't provide any specifics about the new form factor. Did one specific party design the spec list (as Intel did), was it Qualcomm's idea, or was it a mutually agreed design across numerous manufacturers? It could possibly be the latter not wanting to rely solely on Intel by offering something similar if not superior. As for the S4 inside, it will be manufactured with a 28nm process for improved power efficiency and performance over earlier Snapdragon chips.

Qualcomm will join Nvidia and Texas Instruments in the Windows 8 race, but hopes to stand out by developing software that plays to Snapdragon's unique multimedia and cellular connectivity features. The company is even considering a 64-bit version of its SoC given Windows 8 will be 64-bit, but Chandhok wouldn't say when that would be released. 64-bit support will automatically be baked right into future ARM-based chips thanks to the upcoming ARMv8 architecture.

The new Ultrabook rival is expected to be released later this year when the second wave of Intel's Ultrabooks begin to splash onto the market. It will also compete against AMD's "Ultra Thin" form factor like the upcoming Asus U82U which sports the E-450 APU housing two Bobcat cores at 1.65 GHz and Radeon HD 6320 graphics.

Display 28 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    Kamab , April 2, 2012 11:08 PM
    Always good to see more competition.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    Kamab , April 2, 2012 11:08 PM
    Always good to see more competition.
  • -1 Hide
    Wisecracker , April 2, 2012 11:40 PM

    Not sure if more cores is the answer when something like the Brazos-T rolls in with USB3, SATA 6Gb/s, Radeon HD graphics, etc.

    It will be interesting to see how the MS 'soft GPU driver' plays with ARM.

    The good news is that MS claims an ARM “BSOD” will have a friendlier look.

    :) 

  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , April 3, 2012 12:17 AM
    This thing will suck. Sorry... it is slow. Bobcat is >>>> faster. Bobcat is 64 bit. Bobcat has excellent 3D graphics. Bobcat has integration and app support everywhere. Let's not even go into comparing this to IvyBridge. Good grief! This is a bad platform that only curious people will buy due to the price. It will hardly be usable for anything aside from tablet type usage.
  • 7 Hide
    tipoo , April 3, 2012 12:54 AM
    Krait is quite a capable chip in its dual core form, the per-core performance is often double that of the Tegra 3, which itself wasn't that far off from Intels medfeild Atom benchmarks. So a quad core version of Krait should be pretty good, maybe around twice as powerful as todays single core Atoms in a rough guess. For the little power they draw, that's very impressive. Comparing them to chips which draw magnitudes more power (as above) is irrelevant.
  • -6 Hide
    A Bad Day , April 3, 2012 2:41 AM
    Have fun AMD. I hope your mobile CPU progress doesn't fall apart.
  • 4 Hide
    madjimms , April 3, 2012 2:41 AM
    WrongGuyIIThis thing will suck. Sorry... it is slow. Bobcat is >>>> faster. Bobcat is 64 bit. Bobcat has excellent 3D graphics. Bobcat has integration and app support everywhere. Let's not even go into comparing this to IvyBridge. Good grief! This is a bad platform that only curious people will buy due to the price. It will hardly be usable for anything aside from tablet type usage.

    You do realize this is ULTRAPORTABLE market & not just laptop right?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 3, 2012 3:25 AM
    tipoo, not sure where you are seeing those benchmarks. Krait would have to be clocked up REALLY HIGH to be anywhere near ATOM performance much less double. Really greatly exaggerating the performance of that chip IMO. Doubling cores doesn't always equal doubling performance first of all. In fact, it rarely means doubling performance except in rare benchmarks that use 100% CPU utilization across all cores and fit within the L1/L2 cache of each CPU. Secondly, we haven't seen it in any Windows based benchmarks using windows apps so saying it will double ATOM performance even in it's single core form is premature at best. My guess based on the benchmarks I've seen and the likely Windows performance the ARM architecture is likely to have, this chip isn't going to beat an ATOM... unless they clock it up to 3 GHz. Intel just announced the 2 GHz ATOMs though so I'm thinking Intel will still be the performance crown for Windows platforms... even the low powered ones.
  • 1 Hide
    kinggremlin , April 3, 2012 3:55 AM
    Quote:
    said Rob Chandhok, senior vice president at Qualcomm, adding that the lines between high-end smartphones and laptops have started to blur.


    uhh... Better check again on that one. No, they have not.

    There is nothing I do on my smartphone currently that I have ever done on any of my laptops. Smartphones have enabled us to do some things almost anywhere that weren't possible before. However, I have never carried a laptop around with me to do any of those same tasks before I owned a smart phone.
  • -3 Hide
    olaf , April 3, 2012 4:03 AM
    to bad i will run windows 8, if it wont have a touchscreen, wincrap 8 will shoot the S4 in the foot before the race will begin
  • 0 Hide
    Marco925 , April 3, 2012 4:08 AM
    Though it might be problematic when none of the software actually runs on the laptop due to CPU architecture differences
  • -2 Hide
    danwat1234 , April 3, 2012 5:27 AM
    Single threaded / non-multiprocessor aware performance is what matters. Having more than 2 cores on a low end machine is dumb unless they have to because their architecture can't have each core have more integer or floating point units or higher clock speeds. Having a dual core with strong cores is better than a quad core with weaker cores.
    I also hope consumers aren't tricked into buying computers that have this ARM chip, wondering why all their X86 software won't work.
  • 3 Hide
    loomis86 , April 3, 2012 6:21 AM
    I think a 64 bit version of a Qualcomm SoC running Win8 sounds pretty interesting. Not saying I want to buy one, but I sure would like to see some benchmark results and prices.
  • 2 Hide
    alphaperspective , April 3, 2012 9:21 AM
    Are you folks looking at the tree or the forest? single-threaded performance! are we back in 1990? everything is moving towards multi-threading/SMP. Having more cores may not let you run a single app faster...but sure as hell lets you run more apps at the same time... Windows!! ? really? who needs it? run Linux with the Wine emulator.. learn these two words -- Virtualization and Emulation. You'll never go without again. ARM chips means ALL-day, single charge Use. I run an N550 Atom processor and a rolling release Linux distro. There isnt anything someone with a higher end Intel chip and windows can do that i cant do. Except i can do it 3x's longer. With ARM chips... that difference would be far greater. Bring it on.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 3, 2012 1:29 PM
    The problem is, this is going to be a locked-down smartphone-like system, with no hope of ever upgrading or hacking in another operating system than the one that was preinstalled. Windows for ARM licensing guidelines REQUIRE that.
  • 0 Hide
    lamorpa , April 3, 2012 1:40 PM
    kinggremlinuhh... Better check again on that one. No, they have not.There is nothing I do on my smartphone currently that I have ever done on any of my laptops. Smartphones have enabled us to do some things almost anywhere that weren't possible before. However, I have never carried a laptop around with me to do any of those same tasks before I owned a smart phone.

    You are a small minority then. Many people now check email, shop and do limited surfing on their phones allowing them to leave their laptop behind for, say, the coffee shop.
  • 0 Hide
    Tab54o , April 3, 2012 4:57 PM
    WrongGuyIIThis thing will suck. Sorry... it is slow. Bobcat is >>>> faster. Bobcat is 64 bit. Bobcat has excellent 3D graphics. Bobcat has integration and app support everywhere. Let's not even go into comparing this to IvyBridge. Good grief! This is a bad platform that only curious people will buy due to the price. It will hardly be usable for anything aside from tablet type usage.


    Not true we already have quad core 1.4GHz versions of the chip. Just needs to be beefed up a little in speed. The processors are really tiny too and they don't even require heat sinks. There is plenty of headroom. You could literally fit 4 quad core kraits in the same space as a sandy bridge cpu.
  • -1 Hide
    Tab54o , April 3, 2012 5:48 PM
    alphaperspectiveAre you folks looking at the tree or the forest? single-threaded performance! are we back in 1990? everything is moving towards multi-threading/SMP. Having more cores may not let you run a single app faster...but sure as hell lets you run more apps at the same time... Windows!! ? really? who needs it? run Linux with the Wine emulator.. learn these two words -- Virtualization and Emulation. You'll never go without again. ARM chips means ALL-day, single charge Use. I run an N550 Atom processor and a rolling release Linux distro. There isnt anything someone with a higher end Intel chip and windows can do that i cant do. Except i can do it 3x's longer. With ARM chips... that difference would be far greater. Bring it on.


    You cant play crysis though... :D 
  • 0 Hide
    alcalde , April 4, 2012 1:05 AM
    KentuckyWildCatsRuletipoo, not sure where you are seeing those benchmarks. Krait would have to be clocked up REALLY HIGH to be anywhere near ATOM performance much less double.


    Sorry, not true. Phoronix's benchmarks of Ubuntu on ATOM already show on-par+ performance against the Atom N270 with the TI OMAP4 without even getting into Krait.

    "Overall, these results from running the ARM version of Ubuntu 12.04 are very hopeful for the future of ARM Linux on ARM devices and the future of ARM hardware itself. The dual-core Cortex-A9 1.2GHz on the TI OMAP4460 with the PandaBoard ES is mostly comparable to the first-generation Intel Atom N270 in terms of raw performance. On the power consumption front, ARM wins. "

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ubuntu_1204_armfeb&num=1

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=compulab_trimslice&num=1
  • 0 Hide
    alcalde , April 4, 2012 1:16 AM
    Slacker_The problem is, this is going to be a locked-down smartphone-like system, with no hope of ever upgrading or hacking in another operating system than the one that was preinstalled. Windows for ARM licensing guidelines REQUIRE that.


    You're right, and this is a HUGE problem. Windows on ARM is going to be a tablet-like platform capable of running Metro widgets/apps only. Meanwhile, there exist full desktop ARM ports of Linux today you could place on one of these and get a regular Windows 7-style UI via the KDE desktop and run all of your favorite desktop programs from Firefox to VLC to GIMP, Gnucash, LibreOffice, Dosbox, XBMC, octave, anything java-based, etc. I'd love an ARM laptop but I don't want to run a tablet interface/OS on it. The only option right now are the ASUS Transformer models and their forthcoming Krait-based upgrades that are tablets with detachable keyboards.
  • 0 Hide
    alphaperspective , April 4, 2012 9:40 AM
    Tab54oYou cant play crysis though...


    very true :)  but i haven't played video games since the Sega Saturn days. Its all good.


Display more comments