So, Is 801 A Snappier-Dragon?
Right from the outset, we could see that the Snapdragon 801's GPU is faster than its predecessor. Really, though, we have to rely on the low-level GFXBench 3.0 tests to best illustrate the SoC's potential. You see, the pre-production Xperia Z2 tablet we were working with had clear memory and I/O bottlenecks, which we hope will be addressed before the device goes on sale.
Moving forward, it would be nice to see how the 8x74AC Snapdragon 801’s improved 2.5 GHz CPU complex handles the benchmarks. Surely, that would make it one of the fastest SoCs in production.
Speed isn’t what Snapdragon 801 is all about though, at least not as far as we’re concerned. So, why did Qualcomm introduce a revision to an existing SoC ahead of the 805? Snapdragon 801 seems to be Qualcomm responding to market forces. The company is keeping the wolves at bay, so to speak, before introducing its next-generation part destined to battle Apple’s A7 and Nvidia’s Tegra K1 (Denver) in the upcoming 64-bit ARMv8 race.
As we stated earlier, when we spoke to Qualcomm about the Snapdragon 80x series, we were told that one of the key drivers for a third revision was DSDA (Multi-SIM), especially needed in China, which utilizes Dual SIM more than any other country. Most locally-produced phones come equipped with two SIM slots, in fact. A lot of Chinese customers purchase data and voice separately, often through two independent resellers, requiring the pair of cards. SoC vendors over there (think MediaTek and AllWinner) already supply products with DSDA, so it stands to reason that Qualcomm wanted to achieve parity. With nearly every high-end Chinese phone sporting a Snapdragon chipset, Qualcomm needed to support a technology like DSDA.
By the same token, eMMC 5.0 support could be a clever way to keep Samsung interested as a strategic partner. Samsung is the single largest producer of NAND flash memory in the world, and the first manufacturer to enable eMMC 5.0-compatible solutions (last year).
As the 64-bit ARMv8 battle looms, it’s smart of Qualcomm to release an SoC that takes note of market forces and appeases key partners, while also pushing performance just high enough to stay ahead of the competition. Call it a stopgap. The Snapdragon 801 is that solution.