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Qualcomm Snapdragon 801: Performance Previewed

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

Snapdragon 801, the recently-announced update to the Snapdragon 800, shares some of the same SKUs as Snapdragon 800. So, how do you tell the difference? We break down the family and introduce you to the first benchmarks of Sony's Xperia Z2 tablet, too.

We’ve seen Samsung call the MSM8974AB a Snapdragon 800 in the Galaxy Note 3, yet Sony calls the supposedly-same piece of silicon a Snapdragon 801 in its Xperia Z2 Tablet. Confused? So were we. They both have the same SKU, so they’re both the same chip, right? Wrong. Still confused? We’re not surprised.

The Three Revisions of 8x74

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that there are actually three revisions of Snapdragon 80x, and it’s necessary to understand them before we go into exactly what Qualcomm means when it refers to an SoC as Snapdragon 801.

When Qualcomm packaged up what was to become the Snapdragon 800, the first revision of the silicon was only made available for development and testing. That manifestation of the chipset was not for general consumption, and as a result did not end up in devices sold at retail.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800Qualcomm Snapdragon 800

The Snapdragon 800 that reached the market in devices like Google's Nexus 5, LG's G2, Sony's Xperia Z1, and assorted Galaxy products is actually the second revision, and Snapdragon 801 is merely a third revision of the same silicon. While we can’t be sure what exactly changed in-between the development chips (v1) and actual shipping Snapdragon 800 SoCs (v2), we do know that Snapdragon 801 (v3) adds three key features that Snapdragon 800 doesn’t have: Dual SIM Dual Active (DSDA), eMMC, and HEVC.

While the Snapdragon 801 was originally shown to have Bluetooth 4.1 support, after speaking to Qualcomm, the company says that was merely a typo on the Snapdragon 801 SoC diagram. Snapdragon 801 features the same v4.0 Bluetooth standard as Snapdragon 800.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801Qualcomm Snapdragon 801

In some ways, these revisions explain why the same SKU can appear in both Snapdragon 800- and Snapdragon 801-branded products. Of course, it would be nice if mainstream buyers had access to the same level of knowledge. Not being able to understand exactly what you’re paying for can be frustrating. It would certainly make our lives easier if Qualcomm would call these SoCs Snapdragon 800, 801, 802, and so on. As they exist currently, it's far too easy to favor a pricier device with an MSM8974AA chip just because it's called Snapdragon 801, with no clear indication of what it possesses over a Snapdragon 800 with the exact same SKU. Confusing specs that make purchases more difficult are never a good thing. But part of the reason this happens is that Qualcomm’s customers aren’t end-users at all. The company's customers are device manufacturers, and Qualcomm is probably not as prepared or equipped for marketing directly to consumers as its competitors Intel, Nvidia, and Samsung.

Now that we have the major differences between Snapdragon 80x revisions covered, let’s explore the individual Snapdragon 800 and Snapdragon 801 SKUs.

Display all 21 comments.
  • 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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