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Snapdragon SKUs: 800 And 801 Explained

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801: Performance Previewed
By , with contributions by Alex Davies

Decoding Snapdragon 80x SKUs

Snapdragon 80x processors are sometimes listed with a long SKU consisting of a three letters, followed by four numbers and potentially capped by two more letters, such as APQ8074AB or MSM8974AB. The APQ prefix stands for Application Processor Qualcomm, and refers to an SoC that does not include an integrated cellular modem. That critical differentiating component is part of the MSM (Mobile Station Modem)-designated Snapdragons. So, APQ simply means no modem, while MSM means that some form of modem is included.

However, the three-letter prefix is completely redundant to, and reveals far less information than the second numeral in the SKU. In the example above, notice that the three-letter prefix wasn’t the only thing different between these two SKUs. The second numeral is zero in the APQ SKU, while that digit is a nine in the MSM SKU. You see, APQ8074AB and MSM8974AB are the same chip, the APQ just lacks a modem, while the MSM has 4G LTE capability.

That second digit in the SKU not only tells you whether the chip contains a cellular modem or not, but also reveals what kind of modem. All Snapdragon 800 and 801 SoCs are available in the following four connectivity flavors, as revealed by the second numeral in the SKU:

SKU (8x74)
Meaning
0
No Modem
2
HPSA+
6
CDMA
9
LTE

Since the three-letter APQ and MSM designations take a backseat to the second numeral, and everything but the modem remains the same, for the sake of brevity, we’ll be listing all of the Snapdragon 800 and 801 SoC SKUs simply as “8x74” in our tables from here on out.

Snapdragon 800 SKUs

Snapdragon 800CPU Core ClockGPU Core ClockMemory ClockISP Clock
8x74VV2.15 GHz450 MHz800 MHz320 MHz
8x74AA2.26 GHz450 MHz800 MHz320 MHz
8x74AB2.26 GHz550 MHz933 MHz400 MHz

It’s pretty clear why Snapdragon 800 -AB-equipped devices top benchmarks compared to those equipped with the -AA variant like Google's Nexus 5. Both chips are billed as Snapdragon 800, but the -AB is faster where it counts: the GPU runs 10% faster and the memory features 15% higher clock rates. While those numbers may look small, GPU and RAM performance do have a notable impact on device performance. For instance, thanks to full HWComposer support in Android 4.3 and up, the UI is hardware-accelerated, offloading work from the CPU and GPU, reducing power consumption and improving performance. The faster the GPU is, the more overlays can be handled. Of course, the quicker GPU also affects games and other compute-oriented workloads able to keep the CPU complex idle for longer. 

What The Heck Is VV?

From what we can ascertain, -VV are the lowest-binned Snapdragon 800s. We haven't found any devices specifically listening -VV, but they've likely turned up before in the lab. In Google Nexus 5 Review: A Fast, Affordable Phone With LTE For All, we broke down how binning can affect the ultimate performance of a device, showing that our specific Nexus 5 is slower than most in some CPU-driven tests.

So, it seems likely that -VV chipsets are those with the lowest binning, and so they're clocked slightly lower as a result. Qualcomm does list some “2200 MHz” Snapdragon 800 devices in its developer section (the LG G Flex and Sony Xperia Z1 Compact are examples). It's possible that number is a typo and those aren't actually -VV-based devices, since they tend to benchmark like -AB-equipped devices. There's additional evidence of misinformation in the developer section as well. The LG G2 is listed at “2620 MHz”, whereas we know it has a 2260 MHz clock rate.

Hopefully that clears up Qualcomm's two-letter suffix code in terms of the Snapdragon 800 SKUs. But do they mean the same thing for Snapdragon 801? Sort of.  

Snapdragon 801 SKUs


CPU Core ClockGPU Core ClockMemory ClockISP Clock
Snapdragon 800
8x74VV2.15 GHz450 MHz800 MHz320 MHz
8x74AA2.26 GHz450 MHz800 MHz320 MHz
8x74AB2.26 GHz550 MHz933 MHz400 MHz
Snapdragon 801
8x74AA2.26 GHz450 MHz800 MHz320 MHz
8x74AB2.26 GHz578 MHz933 MHz465 MHz
8x74AC2.45 GHz578 MHz933 MHz465 MHz

The -AA model runs at the same frequency as Snapdragon 801 as it did as 800, making the only difference between them the extra features supported by Snapdragon 801 (DSDA, eMMC 5.0, and HEVC). However, Qualcomm told us that the -AA was in limited production and would not be found in many devices. And the -AA model is where similarities between Snapdragon 800 and 801 end. The Snapdragon 801 8974AB is equipped with a faster GPU core than Snapdragon 800 8974AB, while the 801 9874AC also sports a faster CPU core.

As far as we know, Snapdragon 801 8974AC is the SoC powering Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S5 smartphone. While we haven’t tested that handset yet, we did get the chance to benchmark another Snapdragon 801 device, Sony’s Xperia Z2 Tablet, as previewed by our own Alex Davies. Being the first Snapdragon 801 device we could get our hands on, we tried to test it as extensively as time allowed.

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  • 0 Hide
    blackmagnum , March 28, 2014 2:04 AM
    Will this chip go into the next Google Nexus device?
  • 2 Hide
    suture , March 28, 2014 5:00 AM
    hope not, it looks just slightly better than the previous snapdragon 800
  • 3 Hide
    Wisecracker , March 28, 2014 6:36 AM

    A Temash APU and Atom SoCs would make a great cross-platform comparison, here.

    The 'Droid Heads would love to see some Tegra 3/4 action, too.
  • 1 Hide
    MANOFKRYPTONAK , March 28, 2014 7:30 AM
    I really am looking forward to the showdown between the A7/A8, Tegra4/K1. and Intel "what is the name of the chip in the nexus 8?". I hoping to see a worthy $500 upgrade.
  • -1 Hide
    anthony8989 , March 28, 2014 8:06 AM
    Great article - very informative. Sorry if it's off-topic, but the HTC One (M7 2013) uses an APQ8064T. Did Qualcomm change the meaning of the second numeral from Snapdragon 600 to 80x? The HTC One M7 employs a modem yet now the second numeral being 0 indicates no modem. Or does the device substitute another modem off the SoC? Also what does the "T" suffix mean? :) 

    EDIT: I realized APQ also indicates no modem so I'll just assume that they supplied an off-SoC modem for the device. Still would like to know what "T"stands for.
  • 0 Hide
    rohitbaran , March 28, 2014 8:17 AM
    Isn't Tegra K1 (aka Logan) having something else? Project Denver CPU was supposed to be part of Parker SoC as per nVidia's 2013 Tegra roadmap, unless I am missing something.
  • -1 Hide
    edlivian , March 28, 2014 9:29 AM
    So if you already have a device with a snapdragon 800 you should hold off for a real improvement, like snapdragon 1000 or 1k or whatever marketing jibberish they want to name it.
  • 0 Hide
    edlivian , March 28, 2014 9:32 AM
    So if you already have a device with a snapdragon 800 you should hold off for a real improvement, like snapdragon 1000 or 1k or whatever marketing jibberish they want to name it.
  • -1 Hide
    Vistouf , March 28, 2014 10:06 AM
    From Wikipedia :"SKU refers to a stock-keeping unit, a unique identifier for each distinct product and service that can be purchased in business."
  • -1 Hide
    PapaCrazy , March 28, 2014 10:10 AM
    They compared two different manufacturers devices from two generations in order to extrapolate something about the chip? Huh? What about differences in hardware implementation, software, memory, and all the other things that can independently effect performance? Would have been much better to wait and have more comparable devices to test.
  • -2 Hide
    geekweeks , March 28, 2014 10:13 AM
    This is one of the best Processor in Mobile technology , I love this processor lucky to that i bought sony experia m with this processor . Soon I will write review on my following blogs <a href="//www.GeekWeeks.com/">Geekweeks</a> <a href="//www.hditweb.com/">HDITWEB</a> <a href="//www.newsisoft.com/">newsisoft</a>
  • 0 Hide
    Djentleman , March 28, 2014 4:41 PM
    My tegra 4 keeps up quite nicely.
  • -1 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , March 29, 2014 1:43 AM
    Why are they still releasing 32-bit chips when Apple already had a 64-bit chip?
  • -1 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , March 29, 2014 11:40 AM
    There is obviously something wrong with the memory subsystem (at least) on that Xperia platform you're using. In no way should the 801 have any regression compared to the 800. Did you contact Sony and ask if there's any known issues that would explain the results you're getting or just WTF is going on in general? As a result of the issue this article's headline should be "Sony's preproduction Xperia platform has issues" or somesuch. As it is, this isn't a real review of the 801.Also, I'm going to harp on this every time I make a comment on this website from now on: this comment system sucks. Badly. You need to find a new solution. Even the previous comment system was miles better.
  • 0 Hide
    Dorian Black , March 29, 2014 5:48 PM
    Quote:
    There is obviously something wrong with the memory subsystem (at least) on that Xperia platform you're using
    Indeed, and it's something we noted right from the first benchmarks we ran. It's even noted in the article - you can see it covered in the AnTuTu and Geekbench sections, specifically and throughout the other benchmarks we ran and analysed. It's clear that tablet had some definite issues with it's memory and I/O subsystems. I think it would've fared substantially better had they been resolved.
  • -1 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , March 29, 2014 8:47 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    There is obviously something wrong with the memory subsystem (at least) on that Xperia platform you're using
    Indeed, and it's something we noted right from the first benchmarks we ran. It's even noted in the article - you can see it covered in the AnTuTu and Geekbench sections, specifically and throughout the other benchmarks we ran and analysed. It's clear that tablet had some definite issues with it's memory and I/O subsystems. I think it would've fared substantially better had they been resolved.
    Yes, I know it was referenced in the article. My point was that the issue which is clearly with the device is substantially affecting the results, and therefore this article doesn't really live up to being a preview of the Snapdragon 801's performance.I recognize that it's not your (the author's) fault, but still. Also, my question still stands: did you guys attempt to get any feedback from Sony about the issue? The possibility of getting a sample that works properly?
  • 1 Hide
    Dorian Black , March 29, 2014 10:08 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    There is obviously something wrong with the memory subsystem (at least) on that Xperia platform you're using
    Indeed, and it's something we noted right from the first benchmarks we ran. It's even noted in the article - you can see it covered in the AnTuTu and Geekbench sections, specifically and throughout the other benchmarks we ran and analysed. It's clear that tablet had some definite issues with it's memory and I/O subsystems. I think it would've fared substantially better had they been resolved.
    Yes, I know it was referenced in the article. My point was that the issue which is clearly with the device is substantially affecting the results, and therefore this article doesn't really live up to being a preview of the Snapdragon 801's performance.I recognize that it's not your (the author's) fault, but still. Also, my question still stands: did you guys attempt to get any feedback from Sony about the issue? The possibility of getting a sample that works properly?
    I'm not sure that's entirely fair - we did prove that the MHz boosted Adreno 330 of 801 is substantially faster in tests where MHz matters - fillrate, for example. In that test it does beat an 800 AB (Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4) device quite soundly. At the time the results were recorded there were no other Snapdragon 801 devices in operation - in fact, the results were take from a Sony Xperia Z2 Tab at a press junket, which explains why it's not a final device. Sometimes we have to take what we can get. Of course, we will be following up on a more detailed review of a final device as soon as we can. Also, we'll be reviewing another Snapdragon 801 device very soon. Can't say much more. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    becherovka , March 30, 2014 1:50 AM
    LG G3 will be Snapdragon 805, so if this is the phone the new nexus is taken from then.. It looks like Lg might get a third go at Nexus.
  • 0 Hide
    Treynolds416 , March 31, 2014 7:05 AM
    There's a typo at the end of the second to last paragraph on the second article page. You wrote "801 9874AC" when I think you meant "801 8974AC".
  • 0 Hide
    megadelayed , March 31, 2014 9:35 AM
    Note 3 does not have a 8974AB right?im sure the Note 3 uses a 8974AA as the GPU clock in definately 450mhz
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