Qualcomm outs high-end Snapdragon 801 processor, 64-bit midrange Snapdragon 610 and Snapdragon 615
This year, MWC may be filled with new device announcements, but the chipset making companies aren’t standing idly by either. Take Qualcomm, for example, the world’s biggest mobile chip maker. It has announced two new processors, while also rebranding a version of its flagship offering, the Snapdragon 800.
When Sony announced the Xperia Z2 and the Xperia Z2 Tablet earlier this morning, it claimed they both were powered by something called the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801. We assumed that was some wishful branding from Sony’s part, in order to differentiate its devices from the dozens that already use the Snapdragon 800. Not so, it seems – Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon 801. But wait, it’s actually a rebranded version of what we’ve so far known as the MSM8974AC version of the Snapdragon 800.
Up until today, this was an 800. As is the MSM8974AB, as is the original MSM8974. From now an, the AC variant is going to be known as the 801, while confusingly both the others will still be called Snapdragon 800. Why not go with 800/801/802 or something like that, Qualcomm, if you’re into rebrandings anyway?
Confusingly, Sony lists the MSM8974AB chip in its specs for the Z2 and Z2 Tablet, which should be called Snapdragon 800 as per Qualcomm, and not Snapdragon 801 – which is what Sony uses. If even a mobile device maker gets confused over your chip naming scheme, you know you have a problem.
Anyway, the ‘new’ Snapdragon 801 is expected to power most high-end handsets from now on and until the previously announced Snapdragon 805 makes it to the market later this year. Compared to the original Snapdragon 800, it can be clocked 190 MHz higher (at 2.45 GHz), and its GPU runs at 578 MHz compared to 450 MHz. The new part also has eMMC spec 5.0, which means it supports speeds of up to 400 MB/s when dealing with flash storage. The ISP has been bumped to 465 MHz from 320 MHz, and that’s about it – otherwise this is identical to the Snapdragon 800. Obviously then, it’s just an incremental upgrade, but a good one nevertheless.
Qualcomm has also presented two new 64-bit chips, the Snapdragon 615 and Snapdragon 610. These are midrangers, as their names imply, and they join the previously unveiled Snapdragon 410 in Qualcomm’s 64-bit portfolio. That said, the company’s high-end (the 800 series) is still 32-bit only.
The 64-bit chips are a response to Apple’s introduction of a 64-bit processor with the iPhone 5S, undoubtedly. The Snapdragon 615 is an eight-core part, and the 610 is quad-core. They both feature ARM Cortex-A53 cores, the follow-up to the Cortex-A7 cores that MediaTek loves so much (and uses almost exclusively).
Both the Snapdragon 615 and the Snapdragon 610 support 4G LTE connectivity. Devices powered by these processors should be on the market before the end of 2014.